Wrestling: Knights returns plenty of experience from 2021-22 third place Class A team

The WCA-A-B-E Knights finished third at the Class A team tournament last season and looking for more in the 2022-23 season. Senior Anthony Sykora, who won the state title at 170, headlines a group of five Knights with individual state meet.

Knights wrestler Anthony Sykora sizes up an opponent during a match on Feb. 3, 2022. Sykora took the individual title at 170 in the Park Region Conference Tournament on Feb. 5, 2022. Sykora went 47-5 in his junior season and won the state title at 170.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press
We are part of The Trust Project.

The West Central Area-Ashby Knights capped off a standout 2021-22 season with a third place finish at the state tournament. In the individual tournament, Anthony Sykora won the state title at 170 pounds

Sykora is back for his senior season and the Knights are currently slated at No. 3 in the Class A team rankings by The Guillotine.

“We have a special group of young men that have experience on the mat and many of them have had the opportunity to experience what it takes to be a successful wrestling team,” WCA-A-B-E head coach Brandon Gruchow said. “We look forward to being back in the mat room working as hard as we can to better each day and accomplish our goals as individuals and as a team.”

Sykora compiled a 47-5 record last season at 170 pounds and he racked up 22 pins, five tech falls, 102 takedowns, 373 match points along with a team-high 243 team points.

Along with Sykora, the Knights have sophomore Hunter Gruchow who is coming off a sixth place finish at the state meet (132). Gruchow had a 45-14 record last season.


Senior Beau Robinson (30-16 last season 182), junior Will Rustan (30-18 at 195 last season) and junior Solomon Wales (37-12 at 138 last season) are also returning state qualifiers from last season.

WCA-A-B-E sophomore Solomon Wales earned his 75th career victory with a pin in a dual against New York Mills on Feb. 19, 2022.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

The Knights have five wrestlers ranked in The Guillotine’s initial individual rankings, Sykora (N0. 1 at 182), Hunter Gruchow (No. 4 at 145), Wales (No. 9 at 160), Robinson (No. 8 at 182) and Rustan (No. 7 at 220).

Junior Justin Blascyk, freshman Ezekiel Sieckert, junior Mason Richter, sophomore Adam Lohse, sophomore Carter Lohse and 8th-grader Owen Gruchow all wrestled at the last year’s section meet for the Knights and had double digit wins on the season.

Blascyk, both Lohses, and Owen Gruchow all won over 25 matches last season. Owen Gruchow placed third at last season’s section meet (106), while both Lohses (113 Carter and 120 Adam) and Blascyk (285) had a top five finish.

Seniors Dierk Goeden and Blake Flint, along with junior Kolby Peters, sophomore Gavin Flint, freshmen Logon Long and Sam Olson have some varsity experience as well.

WCA-A-B-E is moving to a new conference this year, the West Central Conference to compete against programs such as Minnewaska, MAHACA, Benson and United North Central.

West Central Area-Ashby-Brandon-Evansville- wrestler Will Rustan tries to pin ACGC's Isaiah Runne in a match on Feb. 3, 2022. Rustan is one of many experienced wrestlers that the Knights have back for the 2022-23 season.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

“I expect our team to represent and be a positive reflection of the WCA-A-B-E Knights Wrestling Program all times, come to practice with an attitude and a mentality that is conducive to being the best version of ourselves and the team,” coach Gruchow said. “I expect all of us to hold each other accountable and be there for each other through the good and hard times."

I expect all of us to give it our all and enjoy all the rewards that come our way because of our high expectations.”


The team is excited about having up and comers who had successful tenures on the JV team and elementary careers or both. The team is also excited about having sophomore Tucker McGee back trying out for the sport and a newcomer to the district, junior Weston Ulrich.

Coach Gruchow says the strengths of the program are the team’s team chemistry, their work ethic, experience and ability to be coachable. The team is looking to grow in “strength, conditioning, technique, and mindset” coach Gruchow said.


HEAD COACH - Brandon Gruchow, 17th season, 236-121

ASSISTANT COACHES - Troy Lohse, Dan Wales, Jake Richter, Gage Wevley, Ryan Peterson

ROSTER - SENIORS - Anthony Sykora, Dierk Goeden, Beau Robinson, Justin Blascyk, Blake Flint; JUNIORS - Solomon Wales, Weston Ulrich, Will Rustan, Kolby Peters, Carter Lohse, Adam Lohse; SOPHOMORES - Gavin Flint, Tucker McGee, Hunter Gruchow, Gavin Flint, Jeremy Blascyk, Tayden Amundson; FRESHMEN - Brody Brunkow, Ezekiel Sieckert, Sam Olson, Logan Long; 8TH-GRADE - Cody Krafthefer, Vinny Pahl, Axel Anderson, Charles Bolgrean, Marlon Garza, Owen Gruchow, Dylan Johnson, Freddi Munoz, Logan Schmall; 7TH-GRADE - Noah Barnard, Kyle Klaashen, Jackson Kapphahn, Evan Dingwall, Nathan Brethorst, Colton Braun-Koplin

SCHEDULE - (subject to change)
Dec. 1 at Pelican Rapids Tri, 5 p.m.
Dec. 8 Home Tri, 5 p.m.
Dec. 10 Home Invite, 9 a.m.
Dec. 13 at Staples-Motley Tri
Dec. 16 & 17 at Case Lake Bena Invite, 10 a.m.
Dec. 22 at Minnewaska Quad, 5 pm.
Dec. 29 & 30 Fargo Invite, 10 a.m.
Jan. 5 at Barnesville Quad, 5 p.m.
Jan. 12 Home Tri, 5 p.m.
Jan. 19 vs Morris Area, 5 p.m.
Jan. 24 at BOLD Tri, 5 p.m.
Jan. 27 at Detroit Lakes Tri, 5 p.m .
Feb. 2 at ACGC, 5 p.m.
Feb. 11 at Morris Area Invite, 10 a.m.
Feb. 17 Section 6A Team Tournament in Barrett, 4 p.m.
Feb. 25 Section 6A Individual Tournament in Barrett, 10 a.m.

Sam Stuve covers a variety of sports in the Douglas County area. He also is assigned to do some news stories as well.
What To Read Next
Alexandria improved to 9-0-1 in conference games with the win.
The Brandon-Evansville girls charged back from down 19 and were within arms reach, but Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley made the plays needed to secure the win.
West Central Area-Ashby-Brandon-Evansville earned a win at Detroit Lakes on Friday, while Minnewaska earned two wins in Osakis.
The Alexandra varsity and JV dance teams finished out the regular season strong in Monticello and are now ready for the Section 4AA meet.