Change and growth at the forefront for Armstrong wrestling

It’s a year of transition for Robbinsdale Armstrong wrestling as new names join the coaching staff and a new direction joins the student-athletes getting to work on the mats.

Kurt Neuburger, the team’s new head coach and long-time youth wrestling leader, is at the forefront of that change.

Neuburger, who has been involved in the area’s youth wrestling scene for 20 years, has taken over for former head coach Bill McClowsky, who led the program for over 15 years. Neuburger led the way for the Robbinsdale Area Youth Wrestling Club, an experience he said set the stage for his current position.

“Armstrong wrestling was struggling for a while and the main issue was that basically every kid was starting wrestling in their freshman or sophomore year at Armstrong,” Neuburger said. “It’s really hard to get very good if that’s your first year. The conversation about a dozen years ago was, we need a youth program. So, we started the youth program and I’ve been working on that ever since.”

Neuburger took over the program, joined by Brent O’Halloran, Justin Wheaton, and Hamza Mohamed, who had all worked with the high school program previously as assistants and junior varsity coaches. The group was also joined by a new face to the area, Ukrainian wrestler and coach Khystyna Bereza, who first got on the team’s radar after applying for the head coach vacancy. Continue reading at →

Memories Matter – Story of the 1971 Minnesota State Wrestling Tournament

By Mike Hajek
Armstrong Contributors Tommy Lamphere and Paul Agranof

Time has a way of fading most of the memories we create throughout a lifetime, but memories that have created a lasting impact, never completely fade. The 1971 Armstrong High School Wrestling team had one of those impact moments surrounding the 1971 Wrestling season and the Minnesota State Wrestling Tournament. Of course, there is a story to the 1971 State Wrestling Tournament. Fifty-one years later, at the Armstrong 1971 class reunion, memories circulated surrounding the State Wrestling tournament and the glaring question. Whatever happened to our State Third Place trophy?

In 1971 the Minnesota State High School Wrestling Tournament was a one-class competition with individual points accumulated to determine the team champion and second and third team placements. There were 12 weight classes and 16 wrestlers in each weight bracket representing schools large and small, from all across the state of Minnesota. Staples had a very strong representation at the 1971 State Wrestling tournament. Staples State Tournament entrants were Mark Bendson 95, Mike Roberts 112, Gordy Thompson 127, Loren Bendson 133, Dave Fuller 138, and Wayne Shequen 175. At the end of the tournament competition, Mark Bendson placed 5th, Gordy Thompson Placed 5th, and Loren Bendson claimed the individual State Championship. Armstrong was a metro school and also had a very strong 1971 state tournament, with Tommy Lamphere placing 3rd at 112 and Wally Hartzberg claiming the individual State Championship at 120. With 12 brackets and a one-class system, participating wrestlers throughout the tournament seemed to know or know of everyone from the other teams in the other brackets.

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