Yellowjackets Have Very High Expectations

The foundation for success is in place for another successful season at Rochester Community and Technical College

By Matt Krumrie

Consistent. Talented. Deep. Not satisfied. Unique.

Those are a few words that can describe the 2022-2023 Rochester Community and Technical College Yellowjackets wrestling team.

Head coach Andy Hackenmueller’s team features five returning NJCAA national qualifiers, several returning wrestlers hungry for their chance to make an impact in the lineup, a long list of former Minnesota high school standouts, and a few transfers looking to compete.

“We have some returning guys who won a lot of matches last year and earned experience at the national tournament, along with a couple of standout incoming freshmen,” said Hackenmueller. “There is a lot of talent and potential in the room with some solid leaders. Many of our top guys fell just short of their goals last year and are motivated to get what they deserve this year. We have a long way to go but we are excited to see how much we improve by March and feel we will be in a position to make another run at a team title.”

In addition, these guys are a unique bunch, said Hackenmueller. Read on to learn more about what makes them unique and what else to expect from this year’s Yellowjackets wrestling team.

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Dragons Look For Leadership From Returning Starters

Who is ready to rise to the occasion at Minnesota State University Moorhead?

By Matt Krumrie

Kris Nelson enters his 14th season as head coach of the Minnesota State University Moorhead wrestling program with a lineup featuring six returning starters, several newcomers, and underclassmen looking to make their mark in the Dragons lineup.

Returning starters include Clayson Mele (125), Hunter Hayes (141), Peyton Ringling (157), Anthony Castro (165), Gunnar Mogen (149), and Sam Grove (285). Castro, along with seniors Cody Dravis (174/Park Rapids) and Same Grove (197/Moorhead), will provide leadership to a team also comprised of several freshmen and sophomores.

“We return six starters who have dual and NCAA regional tournament experience, which we hope will help in the upcoming season,” said Nelson. “To achieve success the team needs to continue to improve in the practice room, continue to learn to enjoy the process and make sure to get as many matches in as possible by attending open tournaments throughout the season.”

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Jackrabbits Continue Moving Up As Excitement Builds

South Dakota State returns a lot of experience

By Matt Krumrie

The 2022-23 edition of the South Dakota State wrestling team is battle-tested and will look to continue its climb toward the top of the Big 12 Conference. Head coach Damion Hahn enters his fifth season as head coach, and the Jackrabbits return a core group of experienced wrestlers in the upper weights, where all five starters return.

With this core group back, expectations are at an all-time high. The lineup also includes several Minnesotans who should make an impact, including:

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Bluejays Hope To Build On Last Year

Minnesota West Community & Technical College - more talent, more competitive

By Matt Krumrie

Randy Baker enters his fourth season as head coach of the Minnesota West Community & Technical College wrestling program excited and optimistic. Despite some unexpected challenges last season - a few wrestlers leaving the team, health challenges, and the dreaded winter storm forcing meet and tournament cancellations, several team members rallied when it mattered most, and the Blue Jays finished 25th in the nation at the 20222 NJCAA national tournament in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

"We hope to build on our national finish each year," said Baker. "We had an All-American last year we want to have multiple All-Americans and continue to move up the standings at nationals."

Last year's top-25 team was bolstered by the performance of three national qualifiers, including 165-pounder Damon Ashworth, who earned All-American honors by finishing sixth in the nation at 165. Ashworth, an academic All-American with a 4.0 GPA, has now moved on to compete at the University of Central Missouri, a Division II school in Warrensburg, MO.

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Huskies are in the Hunt for another National Title

St. Cloud State University adds a national champion to their roster

By Matt Krumrie

It’s cliche, but it’s true: The St. Cloud State University wrestling program doesn’t rebuild - they reload.

Most teams would be ecstatic to be coming off a season that included: A 14-1 dual meet record, including 7-1 in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, a second-place finish at the NWCA Multi-Division National Duals, a sixth-straight NCAA Division II Super Region V championship, and a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Division II national tournament.

And while head coach Steve Costanzo, staff, and team members are proud of what they accomplished last season, they are hungry for more. After all, the Huskies entered the 2022 post-season as the three-time defending NCAA Division II champions, winning titles in 2018, 2019, and 2021 (no championships were held in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic). SCSU also won national titles in 2015 and 2016 and has posted nine top-five team finishes at the NCAA tournament since 2011 under the direction of Costanzo.

The Huskies will have a few new faces in the lineup this season and some weight class changes with veteran returnees. The team returns three NCAA All-Americans in Joey Bianchini (141), Anthony Herrera (157), and Colby Njos (157), and four returning national qualifiers in Paxton Creese (125), Nick Novak (149), Jarred Head (165), and Dominic Murphy (174).

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Johnnies Are A Hard-Working Bunch

Saint John’s University is looking to go above and beyond what they have done in the past

By Matt Krumrie

Experience and depth – something every college wrestling program covets. The Saint John’s University wrestling team has both heading into the 2022-2023 season, leading to optimism and excitement in Collegeville. Kevin Schlitz enters his sixth season as head coach and 22nd with the SJU wrestling program.

Among those returning wrestlers looking to improve on last year’s results are Logan Thorsten (157/Foley), Julian Mares (157/La Puente CA/Bishop Amat HS), Hayden LeMonds (174/St. Michael/St. Michael-Albertville HS), Ben Gilbertson (184/Sauk Rapids/Sauk Rapids-Rice HS), and D.J. Myles (197/Dayton/Champlin Park HS).

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Vikings Are Looking to Achieve Great Things

Itasca Community College features a deep and talented roster

By Matt Krumrie

The Itasca Community College wrestling team has a rarity in NJCAA wrestling - a deep and experienced lineup of returning wrestlers looking to build on a highly successful 2021-2022 season. Head coach Joseph Umlauf heads into his fourth season as head coach of the Vikings, leading a team featuring four national qualifiers and two returning starters, along with several talented returnees and newcomers looking to make an impact in the Vikings wrestling program.

Those returning wrestlers were part of a 2021-2022 team that had the highest GPA in program history (3.5) that also produced the highest number of community service hours in team history. On the mat, the Vikings qualified eight wrestlers for the national tournament, and Umlauf was recognized as the NJCAA National Coach of the Year.

Fast forward to 2022-2023. Expectations - on and off the mat - are just as high.

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