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Tiger wrestlers start strong, stay strong

Team awards were presented to (from left) Tim Ostby and Zach Gibson - Most Valuable, Joel Harrison and Connor Metzger - Most Improved, (not pictured) Seth Nelson - Tiger Award, and Challenge Award - Tyler Moser. Ostby also received the Spencer Yohe Award.

The Morris Area/Hancock/ Chokio-Alberta wrestling team had its best start in several seasons and finished strong in 2011-12.

"The kids were strong at the end of the season," said second-year head coach Troy Ostby. "Our goal was to get kids to the third period. If we could do that, we'd have a chance."

The strategy worked, as the Tigers won many matches in the final seconds. Those wins helped the Tigers reach their pre-season goal of making it to the final four in sections.

The Tigers were 7-3 in dual matches during the regular season, including six straight wins. During the Section 3AA team tournament the Tigers advanced to the final four with a win over Montevideo and were defeated by Windom Area/Mountain Lake- Butterfield-Odin, the No. 1 seed in Section 3AA South.

Ostby mentioned other reasons for the Tigers' success.

"One of the main reasons was filling the weights," he said.

In fact, this season the Tigers held wrestle offs in practice to determine who would be competing at the next event.

"Another reason was the comradery and atmosphere," added Ostby.

Ostby also credits his coaching staff of Blaine Hill, Kyle Koehntop, Nate Kleespie, Matt Anderson, and Allyn Plattner.

Highlights for Ostby included winning the tournament in Paynesville, placing third at the Grant County Tournament, and defeating Montevideo in sections.

Topping off the list for Ostby was the opportunity to coach his son Tim in the finals of the state tournament.

Looking ahead to next season, the team will lose five seniors to graduation, Wade Ehlers, Tyler Moser, Tyler Montonye, Tim Ostby, and Zach Gibson.

Ostby and Gibson were the Tigers' state entrants the last two seasons.

Ostby knows it will be hard to fill those spots, but the Tigers will have experienced juniors and sophomore coming up.

"Our freshmen will surprise a lot of people," he added. "They will contribute right away."

Ostby feels the program is moving in the right direction with the young wrestlers.

"In order to be a successful high school program, you have to have a good elementary program."

The Tigers' success was also noted off the mat. The team earned a Silver Academic award for its 3.44 GPA from the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association.