Area wrestling preview: Blackduck-Cass Lake-Bena continues ascent
BLACKDUCK — The growth in numbers and in success of the Blackduck-Cass Lake-Bena wrestling program has been a work in progress and this year the Bears should continue that trend.
We’ve been building every year since the current coaching staff arrived in 2008-09,”said Jay Reiplinger who coaches the Blackduck wrestlers. Keenan Goodfellow is his counterpart in Cass Lake.
“The kids have bought into the program and have worked in the offseason as well as during the season. And their work has enabled us to improve every year.
The programs first merged in 1991 and the athletes from both communities have embraced the situation.
“During the summer many of the boys do things together,” Reiplinger said. “The coaches also have a good relationship. In the time that Keenan and I have been coaches we have learned all of the necessary paperwork and we have worked out a system.”
That system has the Cass Lake wrestlers practicing at their high school and the Blackduck athletes doing the same in Blackduck.
“We have to do it that way because of the transportation expenses and the different times that both schools are in session,” Reiplinger said. “But once a week we get together and have our wrestleoffs.”
Last winter the Bears posted a 15-9 record in matches and sent three wrestlers to the state meet. That list included Daven Staples, Andrew Nissen and Tanner Templin. All three return this year and the coaching staff is looking at them to be among the team’s leaders.
Staples (160-170 pounds) is a senior as are Nate Jablonski (160-170), Nick Grundemeier (120), Tyler Bird (120), Matthew Patch (145), Austin Page (145), Dylan Noterman (145) and Danny Fredrickson (220).
The junior cast includes Nissen (106), Templin (195), Kyle Michalek (132), Tanner George (138), Cooper Jedlicka (182), Trevor Smith (152) and Damon Staples (145-152).
Mason Frenzel is the lone sophomore (152) while Mason Preston (132) and David Foster (113-120) are the freshmen.
Also on board are eighth graders Luke Reiplinger (113-120) and Michael Juelson (120-126) plus seventh grader Ian Frenzel (113-120).
“We have a balanced team,” Reiplinger said. “I don’t think we will have many forfeits or any soft weights this year. I think we’ll be solid through the lineup.”
The Bears have been working their way up the ladder in Section 8A but this year the officials of the Minnesota High School League have thrown them a curve.
“We’ve been moved to Section 7A,” Reiplinger said. “Some of the powers there are Pierz, Holdingford and some of the teams near St. Cloud. We don’t know much about them and they don’t know much about us but we’ve tried to realign our schedule so we can face some of those 7A teams.
“We’re anxious to meet the new teams. It will be fun to see some new faces,” the coach added.
BCLB has opened the year on fire as the Bears defeated UNC 39-28 and Park Rapids 54-18 in their first two dual meets. Last Saturday they also took first place in the eight-team Fosston-Bagley Invitational.
Today they will battle Mahnomen and Waubun at Walker and the home season will begin Tuesday when they entertain Thief River Falls and Deer River. BCLB also will host the giant Big Bear Invitational Dec. 20-21 in Cass Lake.
“I think we’re going to be a tough team to beat,” Reiplinger said. “We have experienced upperclassmen who will make us better and I’m very excited and ready to get the season going.”
FOSSTON — The Greyhounds return 10 lettermen and coach Pat Wolfe believes that the roster is deep enough to fill all of the weight classes this winter.
“It looks like the kids have come into the season fairly spread out in weight, so that will be a plus for us,” he said. “Individually, the kids have started out the season in good physical shape, which will certainly help us early on.”
The letterwinners include seniors Ben Marx, Alexi Bode and Nick Vig, juniors Zach Como and Luke Juve, sophomores Lane Olson, Sam Manecke and Zach Larson, freshman Tristen Molden plus eighth grader Jake Ubert.
“Alexi, Ben, Nick, Zach and Luke all return with quite a bit of experience,” Wolfe said. “These kids have worked hard in the offseason and lead by example.
“I know what to expect from these guys but our team’s success will be dependant on the rookies who are filling the spots left from last year’s seniors,” the coach added.
Finding the right combination and determining the potential of the new wrestlers will be among the early-season chores and Wolfe will determine his starting lineup on a week-by-week basis.
“Our kids have set individual goals for themselves and for the team,” the coach said. “These goals vary quite a bit as we have several new kids in the room this year plus several returning veterans.”
Fosston-Bagley is 1-2 in the early going, defeating United Clay 57-21 and falling 40-39 to Staples-Motley and 4230 to New York Mills. At last week’s Fosston-Bagley Invitational the Greyhounds placed fifth in the eight-team field.