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Future looking strong for MAHACA Tigers

(Photo by C. Edwards Studio)2 / 5
All West Central Conference honorable mention wrestlers in the 2013-2014 season were (from left) senior Myles Smith, sophomore Travis Ostby, and junior Matt Munsterman. Not pictured senior Dillan Johnson received All West Central Conference recognition for the Tigers.3 / 5
MAHACA wrestling award winners were (from left) Myles Smith (Most Wins and MVW), Travis Ostby (Most Pins), and not pictured Aaron Nelson (Most Improved).4 / 5
Sophomore Travis Ostby and senior Myles Smith were the two state entrants for the MAHACA Tigers this season.5 / 5

“Championship teams are made by members,” MAHACA Tiger wrestling head coach Troy Ostby said, starting off the night at the Morria Area / Chokio - Alberta winter sports banquet. “You can’t do much if you don’t have enough players or enough participants… As you can see, numbers for the MAHACA Tigers are growing, and it’s pretty exciting.”

The Morris Area / Hancock / Chokio-Alberta Tiger wrestling program started the season with 42 wrestlers in the gym, and ended with 44.

“We had a lot of new freshman come out this year, and it’s been great,” Ostby said.

The Tigers had 228 wins during the 2012-2013 season, and this year the Tigers had 240 wins. Last season, the Tigers recorded 351 take downs, and this season the Tigers had 466 take downs. In the 2012-2013 season, the Tigers had 108 pins for the year, and in the 2013-2014 season, the MAHACA Tigers improved to 138.

“Everything is improving little by little,” coach Ostby said. “Coaches are very excited.”

To recap this season, the Tigers were 7-7 with a 2-2 Section 3AA record in dual meets, and placed 63 times in seven tournaments throughout the season.

The Tigers beat Sauk Centre / Melrose (45-25) in the first dual of the season in the beginning of December. In January, the Tigers went 5-3 with wins over Minnewaska Area (49-12), Marshall / Lakeview (54-30), Tracy-Milroy-Balaton / Westbrook-Walnut Grove (54-30), Paynesville (37-29), and Benson (52-15).

In February, the Tigers lost a tough dual to Quad County (48-24) who they ended up seeing in the first round of the team section meet as well, falling again to end the team season 41-25.

With the team season done, individually 14 Tigers still had a chance to make it to state with two succeeding and senior Jordan Thooft and junior Jacob Sperr making it to the semifinal round. Seven Tigers placed at the Section 3AA individual tournament.

New opportunity for the MAHACA Tigers was participating in a ninth grade league state tournament. It allows students grades 7-9 to participate in a section tournament and also a state tournament with kids their own age. This year, Jared Rohloff was the Tigers’ state participant.

“What a good experience,” Ostby said. “This was a new thing for us this year, and to have Jared make the state level tournament, it’s really a pat on the back to him… He’s worked very hard this season as have all these guys.”

Recognized at the winter sports banquet on Monday, March 10 were All West Central Conference recipient Dillan Johnson and honorable mentions Matt Munsterman, Travis Ostby, and Myles Smith.

“It may astound most, but we did get an academic all state award this year,” coach Ostby commented.

The MAHACA Tigers were recognized as an Academic All-State participant, receiving a Silver award (GPA 3.0-3.5). The wrestlers averaged a cumulative GPA of 3.4.

Senior Aaron Nelson took home the Tiger award who last season won five matches.

“It’s kind of also our most improved,” Ostby said. “He came out as a sophomore, worked his way up, did some work in the off season, was really good with all the younger kids in the room, and this season had 15 wins and was a big part of our dual success.”

Most Pins went to sophomore Travis Ostby who had 20 pins out of 26 wins. Ostby was also one of two MAHACA Tigers to wrestle at the Class AA State Tournament this year.

Most Wins and Most Valuable Wrestler (MVW) both went to senior Myles Smith. Smith had 28 wins on the year and was the other wrestler to go to state in the 2013-2014 season.

The MAHACA Tigers graduate seven seniors this season: Dillan Johnson, Smith, Jerid Berning, Devon Robertson, Danny Tracy, Thooft, and Nelson.

Johnson ended the season with 24 wins and placed second in the West Central Conference in his weight class. He ends his MAHACA wrestling career with 81 wins.

Smith was 28-12 this season, finishing fourth in the conference and second in the section. Smith ended his high school wrestling career 84-67.

Berning fought through an injury this season and won six of his matches this year, Robertson was 2-5, and Tracy recorded 14 wins for the Tigers.

Thooft was 22-14, placing fifth in the conference and fourth in the section, ending his high school wrestling career 61-99.

Nelson placed fifth in the section with his 15 wins this season and a 20-37 varsity career record.

Though the Tigers lose these seven leaders, MAHACA returns 17 wrestlers with varsity experience including four juniors, six sophomores, six freshman, and one eighth grader.

The brightest spot for the Tigers is a ninth grade class with 16 wrestlers, six already having varsity experience.

“Our numbers are outstanding,” Ostby said. “If numbers keep going up, our program will do well for many years to come.”

Brooke Kern

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