Prep wrestling: Cardinals’ minds set: win at state
MINNETONKA -- Josh Frie, the head coach of the Minnetonka wrestling squad, was pleased the Skippers had reached the Section 6AAA championship match on Saturday, held in their own gym.
MINNETONKA - Josh Frie, the head coach of the Minnetonka wrestling squad, was pleased the Skippers had reached the Section 6AAA championship match on Saturday, held in their own gym.
But after losing by 52 points to Willmar, he knew his kids have a ways to go.
“[Willmar’s] mental aspect is something we’d like to model,” he said. “They don’t quit. Even the few kids that got beat went behind their bench and did push-ups.”
Frie expects the Cardinals to get the No. 3 seed for the Class AAA state tournament that starts Feb. 26 in St. Paul. That’s important. Willmar won’t have to face No. 1 Apple Valley or No. 2 St. Michael-Albertville in the 9 a.m. quarterfinal round. Those two teams each finished well ahead of the Cards in a Dec. 20 multi-state invite at Rochester.
Seeding is Tuesday.
Though Willmar was expected to crush the competition in 6AAA in Saturday’s eight-team playdown, each of the Cardinals appeared to wrestle like he was entrusted with earning the deciding point.
“These guys love to wrestle,” said Justin Brown, co-head coach with Ed Oehlers. “It’s a special group. They bring it every day and show such a willingness to get better.”
There’s nothing like experience, too. Eight of the boys wrestled in the 2012 section meet at Mound Westonka High School, the start of Willmar’s 6AAA reign.
Senior Darius O’Neill, when asked about the team’s 27-0 record, said “If someone loses, they get upset and are frustrated. They go back into the wrestling room to get better.”
Nothing’s better than having strong teammates to go at. “We wrestle hard every match and in the wrestling room, too,” said senior Estevan Navarro, who hiked his record to 28-4 with three wins Saturday.
“We’ve got a lot of desire,” added senior Travis Deegan, a starter on all four section champs. “We want to get some wood at state this year.”
Something more than the all-comers participation plaque which requires winning twice at the Xcel Energy Center on Feb. 26.