From time to time a team or group rises and does something unexpected and great. Often that same unit slides back into oblivion and carries a rather faceless feature about them, unable to replicate what was needed to perch on top of the helm the following year.
Three years ago the West Central Area/Ashby/Brandon-Evansville Knight grapplers broke a 19 year drought, wrestling their way to a section championship and the first birth at the state tournament in a very long time. That team finished their season as the 6th best team in class A wrestling. A year later Coach Brandon Gruchow and his stable of Knights duplicated the process proving they were not just a flash in the pan but a formidable powerhouse in the sport.
Fast forward to last week and the team has struck again. Facing three sectional opponents, outscoring them by a margin of 190 points to 40, the Knights defended their section crown and took down Pelican Rapids 78-6, New York Mills 69-6 and Staples-Motley 43-28.
One could say...there must be something in the water over in that Knights area giving credit to simply having the right horses to win the race or, the notion of cracking the code to continued success pops into mind. For several years the team has lost highly successful seniors to graduation but Coach Gruchow, his staff and wrestlers have figured out a formula that, to date, has allowed them to reload each year and put themselves ahead of the pack. They once again find themselves perched high atop of Section 6A and Thursday, March 2 will join seven other teams at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, competing for a state championship.
Following the section championship match Coach Gruchow commented, “We looked sharp and did a great job getting after the wins. We also did a good job not giving up the bonus points. This is something we are going to have to continue to do if we are going to make a statement down at the state tournament.” Gruchow continued with, “Once again our guys looked confident and comfortable out on the mat. They really do a great job staying loose, enjoying the moment and keeping their composer. But I guess that’s what you can expect when you have leaders on the team like we do. I can't say enough good words about them and the rest of or team. They truly deserve what they have earned. These young men work so hard and are very good about pushing each other to step it up. It’s been a pleasure to work with them.”
Milestones for the week include: Senior Jake Nohre earned his 175th career win, Junior Kaden Spindler earned his 75th career pin, Senior Tyler Onstad earned his 50th career pin.
The wrestlers will take a short break from the team aspect of the sport as they prepare themselves for the individual section tournament held Saturday, February 25 in Pelican Rapids. The mat men will begin competition at 10:00am.