A Look Back At The 2010-11 Minnesota State Wrestling Team
Mankato, Minn. – A tenth-place finish at nationals, three individual placers at nationals, a regional champion, and yet the 2010-11 Minnesota State Mavericks wrestling team was looking for more.
You could ask many programs around the country before the year started if they would be satisfied with the before mentioned credentials in a single season and the majority of coaches would say, absolutely. This, however, is not the case for the Mavericks who strive for excellence in a conference loaded with talent where results are the only thing that matter.
“I am very frustrated by our finish at the 2011 NCAA II National Championships,” head coach Jim Makovsky said. “We really struggled to get traction this season and that was also true at nationals. If we want to beat the other teams in our conference, we need to plan on being number one in the country. We have a lot of work to do to get back to the Maverick Standard. We can’t control what other programs do. We can only control what we do here and that is our focus. We are focused on getting our current athletes to buy into a higher standard and we are focused on recruiting new wrestlers that have high goals.”
The Mavericks would send six wrestlers to the NCAA Division II National Championship held in Kearney, Neb., where they would go on to place three individuals. Junior Aaron Norgren finished fourth, while seniors Andy Forstner and Ben Becker finished sixth and seventh, respectively.
Despite the loss of two senior leaders in Forstner and Becker, the future remains bright for the Mavericks as they qualified two juniors (Norgren and Pat Mahan), a sophomore (Jesse Westphal) and a freshman (Brendan Eichmann) for nationals this past year.
Leading the Mavericks in 2010-11 was Norgren who was one of three Mavericks who earned 20 or more wins posting a 29-10 overall record and a 13-1 record in dual matches. Norgren earned All-American honors for the second time in his career while earning his first Super Region 3 championship as he won the 184 pound bracket with a 4-0 record.
“This past participation at the national championship was a really good learning experience,” Norgren said. “There is a lot I can learn from my two losses which will help me critique and comeback better next year after practicing the smaller things which I need to work on.”
While only competing in 20 matches this season due to injury complications, junior Pat Mahan qualified for nationals after finishing second at the regional tournament with a 2-1 record. Mahan failed to place at nationals posting a 1-2 record but was competitive in both of his losses. Mahan finished the regular season 11-9 overall with a 7-4 dual match record.
Despite a 16-19 overall record, sophomore Jesse Westphal made his first national tournament appearance where he failed to place posting a 0-2 record. Even though he failed to win a match in the tournament, Westphal was a key contributor for the Mavericks all season as he recorded seven dual match wins which was tied for third-most on the team.
Recording the third most wins on the team, earning a trip to nationals as a freshman, and being within one-point of earning All-American honors is just a portion of what freshman Brendan Eichmann accomplished in his first season as a Maverick. Eichmann posted a 23-20 overall record in 2010-11 and went 3-2 in the Super Region 3 tournament which was good enough for fourth-place earning him a spot in the NCAA Division II National Championship. Despite losing his first match of the national tournament, Eichmann responded with a shutout victory against American International’s Ronald Tetreault before dropping a 3-2 decision against North Carolina-Pembroke’s Mike Williams, which would have ensured him his first All-American honors. Eichmann will look to improve on his impressive freshman season as he knows he still has plenty of opportunities remaining as a Maverick.
Earning his first All-American honors as a Maverick was senior Ben Becker. Becker earned his third consecutive trip to nationals after finishing second at the Super Region 3 tournament with a 2-1 record. Despite not placing in his first two national tournament appearances, Becker broke through and earned a seventh-place finish at nationals as he won his final match as a Maverick with an 8-0 major decision over San Francisco State’s Gene Choi. Becker finished the regular season with an 18-9 overall record and a 6-2 record in dual matches.
“It felt great to finally break through that barrier to become an All-American, but at the same time it was an enormous relief,” Becker said. “The whole entire season led up to this result and I’m happy with it.”
Last but certainly not least of the 2010-11 national qualifiers was senior and team leader Andy Forstner. Forstner finished sixth at the national tournament while earning All-American honors for the third time in his career. Forstner avenged an opening round loss with three consecutive wins putting him back in position to place at the tournament. Forstner recorded the second most wins on the team earning a 25-15 overall record and an 11-3 record in dual matches. Forstner qualified for the national tournament by placing third at the Super Region 3 tournament where he posted a 4-1 record.
The Mavericks finished the 2010-11 season in third-place in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference with a 5-2 record behind Augustana and St. Cloud State. MSU started the season strong as it opened with a 49-0 victory at home against Waldorf. The shutout victory was the first of two for the Mavericks as they also whitewashed the University of Mary 34-0 in the NSIC opener. Prior to the NSIC opener the Mavericks went 3-2 at the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals earning a seventh-place finish. MSU recorded victories against Findlay, Central Missouri and San Francisco State while they lost to Augustana and North Carolina-Pembroke.
Minnesota State began 4-0 in conference action with victories against Mary (34-0), Northern State (22-13), Minnesota State-Moorhead (19-18) and Upper Iowa (23-13) before falling 21-10 to the second ranked Augustana Vikings.
The Mavericks would drop two consecutive matches as they fell to the top-ranked University of Nebraska-Omaha 22-12 leaving them with an 8-4 record. From this point, the Mavericks would break their losing streak with a 31-6 victory over Southwest Minnesota State before losing their regular season finale to No. 3 St. Cloud State, 25-9.
The Mavericks 9-5 overall record and 5-2 NSIC record doesn’t begin to show exactly how talented the team was, nor does it demonstrate how far this team can go in the future. While the loss of team leaders Forstner and Becker will hurt, the amount of talented youth and experienced coaching should prove to be enough to make this Mavericks squad entertaining to watch these next few years.
“With the return of five guys who have national tournament experience they have all been there before and that experience will help,” Makovsky said. “I have told every recruit this spring that they will be competing for starting spots their true freshman season. That’s the kind of guy I want entering our program. Guys that are looking at being in the starting line up immediately. We need to raise the level of competition in the room and the new guys will be very critical to making this happen.”