The 2021 season is going to test the Osakis wrestling team both mentally and physically.

With so few wrestlers at the upper age levels, the Silverstreaks aren’t measuring the team’s growth by wins and losses. Instead, first-year head coach Doug Johnson is focused on individual success as he tries to build up the program on varsity in the coming years.

“I’ve been honest with the kids, and they know it’s going to be a really tough season as far as the team goes,” Johnson said from practice on Jan. 8. “We are really looking forward to a lot of individual success. I wouldn’t be surprised if we had a couple of kids going to state by the end of the year. I really think we have a good group of kids here. The one positive to not having a big team right now is we can focus on the individuals.”

Two of those wrestlers are the only two upperclassmen on the roster. Senior Logan Grove and junior Carsten Jacobson were named the captains of the team. Grove went 28-11 last season, while Jacobson had a 17-18 record. Grove believes the best way to be a good leader is by being a good teammate.

“I think this year is going to be the same as it’s always been with our team,” Grove said. “They look up to us as leaders, but really we are friends to help them with whatever we need. We want to be approachable to the younger guys so we can help them out with whatever they need.”

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Sophomore Kale Drevlow was fourth at sections a year ago at 145 pounds, and freshman Jacob Taplin was fourth at 106 as both return to add some experience to the lineup. Even though the numbers are low overall, it hasn’t deterred the Silverstreaks in terms of the athletes' work ethic who are out.

“The attitude has been great. I couldn’t ask for a better group of kids,” Johnson said. “We’ve been hitting it hard. I know we are supposed to take transitioning pretty easy, but wrestling is a different sport. We’re wrestling Alexandria (on Jan. 15), and we don’t have a whole lot of time to prepare. I haven’t heard any complaining, and the kids are willing to work. They don’t have to be here until 3:30, and they’re getting here early.”

The first week of practice wasn’t easy, but that’s what Jacobson wanted. He was anxious to get back into the gym following the shutdown.

“We had a fitness class that we could do when we were at home, but it’s not the same,” Jacobson said. “Working out at home did help. I feel like I’m more conditioned for these higher-intensity practices. It’s great to be back in here with these guys. We have to take it day-by-day because we don’t know what day is going to be our last.”

This is Johnson’s first year as the head coach of this program after Joey Andreasen resigned in the offseason, but he’s familiar with the Osakis wrestling scene. He coached at the youth level before taking the high school job.

“Working with these kids before makes this year a lot easier on me,” Johnson said. “I think it makes it easier on the kids too. With everything going on in the world and all of the craziness, just to have that sense of familiarity with me is nice. They’ve even mentioned how much they appreciate not having a brand new head coach.”

Carsten Jacobson (right) takes down Kale Drevlow during Friday's Osakis wrestling practice. Jacobson went 17-18 during his sophomore season, and was named a captain as the lone junior on the roster. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)
Carsten Jacobson (right) takes down Kale Drevlow during Friday's Osakis wrestling practice. Jacobson went 17-18 during his sophomore season, and was named a captain as the lone junior on the roster. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

Johnson’s goal for the program over the next few years is to gain numbers, and it starts at the youth level.

“Six years ago, when I came into the youth program, we had 18 kids. Now, we have 67,” Johnson said. “I’m watching it grow, and that’s why I’m excited about the future. We are going to have a couple of lean years here, and we are prepared for that. But if we can keep growing, then we are on the right track.”

Grove is looking forward to Osakis having a full roster long after his days in red and silver are over.

“It’s important for everybody to build their own skillset and get time on the mat,” Grove said. “For the kids that are going to be around next year, that stuff is important. As these guys get a little older, they will hopefully keep getting better. We don’t have the numbers we want, but the guys that are here are here to work hard. That’s all you can ask for right now.”

Head coach Doug Johnson takes down assistant coach Gage Zieske during a drill demonstration at Friday's Osakis wrestling practice. Johnson and Zieske are new to the Oakis coaching staff. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)
Head coach Doug Johnson takes down assistant coach Gage Zieske during a drill demonstration at Friday's Osakis wrestling practice. Johnson and Zieske are new to the Oakis coaching staff. (Jared Rubado / Echo Press)

OSAKIS VARSITY WRESTLING ROSTER

SENIORS: Logan Grove

JUNIORS: Carsten Jacobson

SOPHOMORES: Kale Drevlow, Tyson Hagedon

FRESHMEN: Gaven Cimbura, Jacob Taplin

EIGHTH-GRADERS: Reggie George, Kaleb Helberg, Lukas Duchene SEVENTH-GRADERS: Simon Jaconson, Christian Nathe

HEAD COACH: Doug Johnson; ASSISTANT COACHES: Justin George, Gage Zieske

OSAKIS WRESTLING SCHEDULE

Jan. 15 at Alexandria Tri, 5 p.m.

Jan. 19 at Eden Valley-Watkins Tri, 5 p.m.

Jan. 22 Staples-Motley Tri, 5 p.m.

Jan. 26 at Ottertail Central Tri, 5 p.m.

Jan. 28 Osakis Tri, 5 p.m.

Feb. 2 at Bertha-Hewitt-Verndale, 5 p.m.

Feb. 4 at Wheaton-H-N, 5 p.m.

Feb. 9 at Holdingford Tri, 5 p.m.

Feb. 12 Osakis Tri, 5 p.m.

Feb. 16 at Minnewaska Tri, 5 p.m.

Feb. 23 at WCA Tri, 5 p.m.

Feb. 25 Osakis Tri, 5 p.m.

Feb. 27 Osakis Tri, 1 p.m.

March 2 at Pierz Tri, 5 p.m.

March 6 at New York Mills Tri, 1 p.m.