Former wrestling coach shares wisdom Big Bear tourney
Long time Blackduck and Minnesota Hall of Fame wrestling coach Steve Bechtold put it in perspective when he shared a gem of wisdom with a competing athlete -- "There are a lot of state champions that never win the Big Bear."
Such is the competition when athletes from over 30 schools and all three classes assemble to have it out over two days in Cass Lake.
Last year's resurgent Bear team only managed to advance one wrestler to day two of the tournament and finished in the bottom half (22nd overall) of schools.
That wrestler, Bear captain Al Goodwin, not only earned an eighth place finish last year, but also gained the experience and determination to improve.
Captain and leader that he is, he took a few others along with him this year. This year's Bear squad moved to the top half of the results (16th overall) and advanced seven to day two. Captains Goodwin, Brady Gross and Crag Brouder all advanced, as well as teammates Andrew Nissen, Tanner George, Daven Staples and Butch Strand.
Three wrestlers eventually earned places. Nissen and Goodwin both placed fifth while Broder took eighth.
Once again it was evident that BCLB's hard work in practices and the resulting conditioning was a huge factor. Both Nissen's and Goodwin's journey's to fifth place matches were an adventure, giving fans their money's worth, (and grey hair).
Goodwin earned his entrance to the fifth place match with a come from behind victory followed by a win in three overtimes. Nissen got there by virtue of a come from behind last second win and he won the fifth place medal only after prevailing in four overtimes.
This squad is built on it's work ethic, balance and team work. In addition to place-winners, Kyle Michalek, Tanner George, Cooper Jedlicka, Staples, Strand, Gross, Tanner Templin and upstart Zach Jones, all scored valuable team points.
As impressive as the wrestlers were, so too was the fan following as the stands were packed.
Many of the junior varsity wrestlers and athletes who did not advance returned to encourage their teammates on day two. That's what being a team is all about and it's also the secret to the continued success of the BCLB wrestling program.