The West Central Area-Ashby-Brandon-Evansville wrestling team is ready to embark on what it hopes is another winning season this winter.
The Knights went 14-8 a year ago. They have developed a good Class A program under Brandon Gruchow, now in his 14th season with a 167-105 career record.
“A young but scrappy team awaits the solid schedule they will face this season with anticipation,” Gruchow said of this year’s roster. “A mixture of young wrestlers with previous wrestling experience and great leaders from the 18-19 season are excited to see what kind of season they can put together.”
Hunter Mickelsen, Hunter Hanson, Bryce Lien, Alex Butcher and Wyatt Olson, who finished third at state at 195 pounds last year, are all seniors who have to be replaced.
“Previous state participants Anthony Sykora, Jordan Lohse and Kaleb Getz will be working towards getting back down there and have higher goals in mind as they have another year of experience under their belt,” Gruchow said.
The Knights have some experienced wrestlers to lean on as they mix in other young athletes trying to establish themselves. Shad Swanson, Ashton Danner, Sykora, Reubens Swanson, Lohse, Getz, Bret Duncan, Colton Lindquist, Devin Stone and Austin Mattson all are returning starters from last year’s team. Stone, Getz, Lohse, Deklin Goeden, Sykora and Lindquist will serve as team captains.
“Other wrestlers who wrestled varsity last season who will be looking for starting spots include Solomon Wales, Dierk Goeden, Deklin Goeden and Kade Olson,” Gruchow said.
The head coach said a long list of junior varsity wrestlers should also challenge the varsity weights and help create depth for the Knights.
“There is a good variety of competition and we will be wrestling many of the top class A teams during the course of the season,” Gruchow said.
The Knights’ approach on the mat is simple -- Gruchow wants his wrestlers to focus on getting better each day and embrace the grind that comes during each season.
“This team will have just enough power to challenge the teams on our schedule, in our conference, and those in our section,” Gruchow said. “Many of them did what they had to do to get better during the offseason months. They are on the younger side but many have been part of our state participating/placing teams and will do a great job at leading them to that level again this season.”
Things won’t come easy for the Knights in either the Park Region Conference or Section 6A field. Long Prairie-Grey Eagle-Browerville is the defending Class A state champions, and section foes Ottertail Central and Bertha-Hewitt-Verndale-Parkers Prairie are teams Gruchow says will pose a big challenge.
“There are nine section place winners, including two returning state entrants on this team,” Gruchow said. “The wrestlers hold the power to the success they want to have. The coaches are going to do their best in aiding that success. It has been a couple of years since we have been able to win either the section or the conference tournament. The Knight wrestlers are eager to give it their all to get those titles back in their hands.”
2019-20 WCA-ASHBY-BRANDON-EVANSVILLE WRESTLING
SENIORS - Devin Stone, Bret Duncan, Kaleb Getz; JUNIORS - Mark Adams, Alexander Hanson, Deklin Goeden, Austin Mattson, Nathaniel Kisgen, Jordan Lohse, Kade Olson; SOPHOMORES - Tanner Martinson, Ashton Danner, Reubens Swanson, Shad Swanson, Josiah Cole, Colin Anderson, Zachary Fagre, Colton Lindquist; FRESHMEN - Blake Flint, Tristin Gutierrez, Tyler Stone, Ethan Johnsrud, Quinten Winter, Beau Robinson, Anthony Sykora, Dierk Goeden, Justin Blascyk; EIGHTH GRADE - Grant Lindquist, Will Rustan, Mason Richter, Carter Lohse, Ethan Neuman, Owen Hubbard, Jacob Schaffran, Solomon Wales, Adam Lohse; SEVENTH GRADE - Gavin Flint, Alan Pederson, Hunter Gruchow, Jeremy Blascyk, Hunter Hanstad
COACHES - Head coach - Brandon Gruchow - 14th season, 167-105; Assistant coaches - Troy Lohse, Aaron Ray, John Weeding, Dan Wales
WEST CENTRAL AREA-ASHBY-BRANDON-EVANSVILLE SCHEDULE
Dec. 3 WCA Tri, 5 p.m.
Dec. 7 WCA Invite, 9 a.m.
Dec. 10 at Staples-Motley Tri, 5 p.m.
Dec. 12 at Morris Area , 5 p.m.
Dec. 14 at Crookston Tournament, 11:30 a.m.
Dec. 20 at Cass Lake-Bena, 10 a.m.
Dec. 21 at Cass Lake-Bena, 10:45 a.m.
Jan. 3 vs. New York Mills, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 7 at Fergus Falls, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 9 vs. Barnesville, BHVPP, 5 p.m.
Jan. 16 at Breckenridge Tri, 5 p.m.
Jan. 17 at KMS, TBD
Jan. 24 at Browerville-Eagle Valley, TBD
Jan. 28 vs. Frazee, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 30 at BBE Quad, 5 p.m.
Feb. 1 Conference tournament at LPGE, 9 a.m.
Feb. 8 at Morris Area Invite, 10 a.m.
Feb. 11 Section Tournament, 6 p.m.
Feb. 14 Section Tournament at Underwood, 6 p.m.
Feb. 22 Section Individuals at W-DC, 9 a.m.