The West Central Area-Ashby-Brandon-Evansville wrestling team always has high goals in the program that center around the state tournament.

That will be the goal again this winter if the Knights get that opportunity with state events during the MSHSL winter seasons. WCA-A-B-E is listed in the “Lean and Mean” category in the Nov. 11 Guillotine Class A team rankings.

“The primary focus will be achieving our team goals with a great emphasis on wrestling, technique, conditioning, and strength training,” head coach Brandon Gruchow said in late December. “At this point, they have not told us that we are not having a state tournament this year, so I would like to see this team and individuals competing in the state tournament. We will keep working hard to improve as much as we can every day.”

The Knights’ team season came to an end at the hands of Bertha-Hewitt-Verndale-Parkers Prairie in the Section 6A tournament last winter. The Raiders are once again expected to be a top team in the state as they come into the season ranked sixth in the initial polls.

Section 6 and Section 5 are loaded once again with talented teams from the west-central region of the state. Long Prairie-Grey Eagle-Browerville (1), Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (3) and Minnewaska (4) are all ranked in the top five of the November polls.

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Having all these teams in the area helps keep each one sharp as they go against many of the best wrestlers in the state on a regular basis.

“My expectations of this team will be for them to enjoy the hard work that comes with this tough sport, enjoy the tough competition we have scheduled, and to improve throughout the season,” Gruchow said. “The state tournament is within their reach if they want.”

WCA-A-B-E has top-level athletes to build around, starting with Jordan Lohse. The senior is the top-ranked wrestler at 160 pounds entering the season after finishing second at the state tournament at 152 pounds in late February.

Eighth-grader Hunter Gruchow is ranked eighth at 113 pounds, sophomore Anthony Sykora is 10th at 145, and Nathan Kisgen is third in the 182-pound individual polls.

“Most of these guys have been on the team for a while,” coach Gruchow said of the Knights as a whole. “The prior experience will help their confidence. They are not afraid to work hard to get what they want.”

Gruchow knows it takes a lot of dedication to reach the level of being one of the best wrestlers in the state with such good competition throughout Minnesota. He’s excited to see if his athletes are ready to put in the work necessary to accomplish lofty expectations this winter.

2021 WCA-ASHBY-BRANDON-EVANSVILLE WRESTLING

SENIOR - Trent Koloski, Nathaniel Kisgen, Austin Mattson, Jordan Lohse, Kade Olson

JUNIORS - Colin Anderson, Ashton Danner, Colton Lindquist, Reubens Swanson

SOPHOMORES - Anthony Sykora, Justin Blascyk, Blake Flint, Dierk Goeden, Tyler Stone, Beau Robinson

FRESHMEN - Logan Haburn, Adam Lohse, Carter Lohse, Grant Lindquist, Mason Richter, Will Rustan, Jacob Schaffran, Solomon Wales

EIGHTH-GRADERS - Jeremy Blascyk, Gavin Flint, Hunter Gruchow

SEVENTH-GRADERS - Logon Long, Ezekiel Sieckert, Sam Olson, Brody Brunkow

WCA-A-B-E WRESTLING SCHEDULE

(Home matches at WCA School)

Jan. 15 WCA Tri, 5 p.m.

Jan. 19 WCA Tri, 5 p.m.

Jan. 21 at Barnesville Tri, 5 p.m.

Jan. 26 WCA Tri, 5 p.m.

Jan. 28 at ACGC Tri, 5 p.m.

Feb. 2 at Wadena-DC Tri, 5 p.m.

Feb. 4 at LPGE Tri, 5 p.m.

Feb. 9 WCA Tri, 5 p.m.

Feb. 11 at Battle Lake Tri, 5 p.m.

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

Feb. 18 WCA Tri, 5 p.m.

Feb. 23 WCA Tri, 5 p.m.

Feb. 25 at Pelican Rapids Tri, 5 p.m.

March 2 at Park Rapids Tri, 5 p.m.

March 4 WCA Tri, 5 p.m.