Built On Family – Totino-Grace Wrestling

By Brian Jerzak

In the real world, people tend to gravitate toward others with similar interests. Socializing with people with similar interests is more comfortable and often more convenient. Also, in the real world, kids often acquire some of the interests of their parents. It is a natural thing – if a child sees their parent enjoying something, that child is usually going to at least take an initial interest. Like their parents before them – kids often find an appreciation for art, music, the outdoors, or a million other things because their parents expose them to it. Sports – specifically a passion for an individual sport – also often starts because of what kids see from their parents.

Most successful high school athletic programs have an element of family. Wrestling is no different. Programs across the state are littered with kids whose fathers and grandfathers wrestled. This is not a new phenomenon. However, one of the most successful seasons in the history of the Totino-Grace Eagles’ wrestling program was built on an extreme version of wrestling family ties.

The 2023-24 Eagles – who took home the Class AA third-place trophy (shared with the Becker Bulldogs) – were built on family.

“We had a close-knit team,” Totino-Grace head wrestling coach Doug Svihel said. It was a team we had been building for a few years. The team included five sets of brothers. Four sets of brothers were consistently on varsity.”

Having that many brothers ramped up the intensity in the Eagles’ wrestling room.

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Kruse sets new single-season most falls record

Totino-Grace senior Cy Kruse set a new Minnesota high school wrestling record for 51 total falls in a single season. The previous record for total falls in one year was held by Ryder Rogotzke of Stillwater with 45 pins in 2022-23, followed by Tyler Lehmann of Apple Valley with 44 in 2008-09.

Kruse pinned his way to the Class AA 215-pound title on March 2nd, with falls over all seven of his opponents during the 3-day team and individual tournaments.

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Catching up with Jim Gale

From Wrestling to Sustainable Farming

By Chad Otterness

Jim was a 1988 Totino-Grace High School and 1994 Mankato State University graduate. Jim has accumulated an impressive wrestling background. He was a Minnesota state freestyle and Greco-Roman champion, a two-time place winner at the Minnesota State High School Wrestling Championships, and a four-time All-American at Mankato State University, earning a National Championship in 1992.

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The Guillotine Grapevine: A tale of two stories in Section 5AA

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A trip to Totino-Grace High School in Fridley had one goal in mind, profile the private Catholic school and its accomplished wrestling program. What happened was what makes sports great – kids doing great things to create great results. Totino-Grace wouldn’t hoist the Section 5AA trophy on Saturday, it’d be a group of kids from Orono who came into the sectional tournament with a 6-12 dual record. 

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