High School Class AAA Preview

With one of the most exciting championship finishes in State Tournament history last season, this season’s class AAA race looks to be one of the deepest in a long time. It will be hard to beat Hastings’s dramatic twenty-four-point comeback, but the depth of the teams this year may bring even more excitement to the X.

Section 1

With the addition of Albert Lea, Section One is even deeper than last year, with five teams capable of winning this section. The Tigers return four AA state entrants, three of them placewinners. Senior Michael Olson will try to improve on his second-place finish at 113 last season. Junior Logan Davis (3rd at 120), Nick Korman (5th at 132), and freshman Ryan Collins (106) will be the leaders on a strong Albert Lea team. Rochester Mayo and Owatonna are the two most experienced teams.

Mayo, who punched their first ticket to state last season, return six state entrants led by junior fifth-place finisher Calder Sheehan (145). Junior Juan Cobarruvais (113), senior Ethan Peper (220), freshman Kellen Burger (132), freshman Caleb Loomis (285), and eighth grader Andrew Trimble (106) also competed at state. Owatonna graduated state runner-up Cael Robb but still return seven state entrants.

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Fighting For The Kids – Travis Hoffarth and Pequot Lakes/Pine River-Backus

By Brian Jerzak

When Pequot Lakes-Pine River-Backus head wrestling coach Travis Hoffarth took over the Roadcrew’s head job, he did so with hall-of-fame mentors to back him up. All three of his varsity high school coaches from Albany are in their sports’ Minnesota coaching halls of fame. Even though he didn’t always listen to them when he competed for them, how he approaches dealing with his wrestlers now proves he listened when it counted.

“It is all about fighting for the kids,” Hoffarth said, “making sure they know you are going to do anything you can.”

The Roadcrew coach has been involved in wrestling his entire life.

“Wrestling has been part of our family since I have known. My uncles wrestled. My dad wrestled for part of his high school career. My brother (Brad) is ten years older than I am. He was a wrestler. He was the key for me – showing me the moves in the living room when I was four or five years old. He became a head coach at Osakis, the athletic director, and now is the high school principal.”

With a future wrestling coach learning his craft in the living room teaching his younger brother, the younger Hoffarth had an advantage early.

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Gophers Reshaped by Offseason Changes

Blockhus, McKee, Gliva, Sparks, Salazar, and Joles Lead University of Minnesota Lineup

By Matt Krumrie

The offseason brought forth a whirlwind of changes for the Minnesota Gophers wrestling program, reshaping the team’s dynamics and raising questions about what the 2023-2024 season has in store. Yet, amidst the changes, the Gophers still have a strong group of experienced wrestlers and several hungry returnees looking for an opportunity to be a part of a Gophers team looking to improve on last year’s 15th-place finish at the NCAA championships.

“This season our team will be a blend of familiar faces, and some new names will also emerge,” said head coach Brandon Eggum, now in his eighth year as head coach of the Gophers. “We have Patrick McKee, Jake Gliva, Michael Blockhus and Garrett Joles all returning for their sixth seasons. Isaiah Salazar and Andrew Sparks will also provide some veteran leadership. We have had a few guys sitting behind established starters the past few years and now some of those guys will have their opportunity in the lineup.”

This year’s Gophers lineup has talent and experience throughout the lineup, but heading into the season, it does not feature those highly ranked hammers of years past. That is going to make it an interesting, exciting, and perhaps even nerve-wracking season for Gophers fans. No matter what, it should be fun to watch this team’s journey.

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Yellowjackets Return Five National Qualifiers, Set to Continue Tradition of Excellence

Rochester CTC Boasts Strong Freshman Class, Led by Minnesota Standouts

By Matt Krumrie

Rochester Community & Technical College is a perennial power in NJCAA wrestling, and the Yellowjackets have another strong team that should continue that tradition of excellence into the 2023-2024 season.

The Yellowjackets finished second in the NJCAA national tournament in 2023 (non-scholarship division) and have a roster of 26 wrestlers ready to create their own legacy at the state’s top NJCAA wrestling program.

RCTC returns five wrestlers with national tournament experience and a strong freshman class (including many from Minnesota) who are ready to rumble. That group includes returning All-Americans Antony Tuttle (4th/184/Stillwater) and Nate Beberg (285/8th/Andover), and returning national qualifiers Jackson McCormick (133), Jake Thompson (141/Byron), and Martin Prieto (197/Plainview/PEM HS). Tuttle, Beberg, McCormick, Thompson, and Prieto also won MCAC titles to qualify for the national tournament.

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Auggies Seek Back-to-Back National Championships

Augsburg Returns Nine Starters, Including Defending National Champion Sam Stuhl

By Matt Krumrie

The Augsburg University men’s wrestling program has won 14 NCAA Division III championships. The most recent came last season, and in dominating fashion at that, when the Auggies finished with 101 team points, 34.5 ahead of runner-up and rival Wartburg (66.5 points).

Winning back-to-back championships is difficult in any sport and for any team, even for a powerhouse program like Augsburg. The Auggies won back-to-back titles in 1997 and 1998 and three straight national titles in 2000, 2001, and 2002. With all the success the Augsburg wrestling team has had, it’s hard to believe it’s been 20+ years since the Auggies have repeated as national champions.

But this could be the year the Auggies do just that.

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Vikings Planning for Another Season of Success

Augustana Boasts Three Returning All-Americans, Led by Jaxson Rohman

By Matt Krumrie

A quick look at the numbers shows that the Augustana Vikings are set up for another season of success heading into the 2023-2024 college wrestling season.

The team returns nine starters with Super Region V tournament experience – eight of them placewinners. There are also six returning national qualifiers, three returning All-Americans, and one NCAA runner-up.

That’s an impressive lineup of experienced wrestlers and a reason head coach Jason Reitmeier – now in his 21st season leading the Vikings’ wrestling program – is excited for the season. It’s no surprise this group finished second at the NCAA Super Region V tournament last season.

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Dragons Optimistic Heading into 15th Season Under Coach Kris Nelson

MSU Moorhead Returns Five Wrestlers with Regional Experience

By Matt Krumrie

With five wrestlers who competed at the Super Region V tournament, along with several talented newcomers and returning wrestlers looking to improve, Kris Nelson is optimistic heading into his 15th season as head coach of the Minnesota State University Moorhead Dragons wrestling program.

“We are still relatively young, but last years’ experience will be beneficial when competing in the NSIC,” said Nelson. “I expect them to make significant strides throughout the season, and I believe the squad has been working hard during the preseason.”

Those five returnees with regional experience include Clayson Mele (125), Thomas Carrillo (133), Hunter Hayes (141), Gunnar Mogen (149), and Jonas Anez (165). Mogen led the Dragons in wins with 18 (18-10), while Mele went 15-12, and Carrillo was 13-13. Anez also won 15 matches.

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