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Tiger wrestlers enjoy team, individual success in ‘12-’13

Team awards were presented to Dillan Johnson - Most Improved, Connor Metzger - Most Valuable Wrestler, and Joel Harrison - Tiger Spirit Award.

The Morris Area/ Hancock/Chokio-Alberta wrestling team finished the season with a winning 7-6 record in duals. After several seasons with low numbers, the Tigers had 35 wrestlers on the varsity and junior varsity roster and did not have to forfeit a single weight class during duals.

“We had a great season,” said coach Troy Ostby. “We ended the season right where we should have been.”

The Tigers reached all but one of their goals this season, and that was making it to the final four in the Section 3AA team tournament. The Tigers won their first match to advance to the quarterfinals, but Lac qui Parle Valley/Dawson-Boyd ended the Tigers’ team season.

The Tigers lose four wrestlers to graduation. They are seniors Connor Metzger, Joel Harrison, Evan Nelson, and Seth Nelson.

“These are four kids that have come up through our program,” said Ostby. “They have shown leadership and won big matches for us.”

Evan Nelson finished the season 29-15, taking fourth at the section tourney. Nelson wrapped up his career 79-60 overall.

“You could always count on him down low to keep us in the dual,” said Ostby. “I expected him to win.”

Seth Nelson finished 8-19, taking fifth at sections. He had a career record of 41-71.

“Seth came on in the end of the season. He won a couple of matches that helped us win duals,” said Ostby. “Because of his win, we won a couple duals.”

Metzger was a state entrant, taking second in sections, and finished the season 34-8. Metzger placed fifth at the state tournament. Metzger finished his career 85-51.

“Connor’s hard work and dedication made him a good leader,” said Ostby. “He was expected to win. No matter if he was wrestling a No. 1 ranked wrestler or not.”

Harrison wrapped up his senior season 28-7, just missing a state trip by dropping a true-second match to take third in the section. He wrapped up his career in orange and black with a 70-53 record.

“He was the hardest worker on the team by far,” said Ostby. “Connor will admit that because of Joel, he went to state.

“We’re going to miss these boys,” added Ostby. “They were like big brothers to the young kids.”

Several young kids are coming up to help fill the spots left open by the seniors, including 17 wrestlers with at least some varsity experience.

Junior Dillan Johnson, the other Tiger state entrant, took first place in Section 3AA and finished the season 29-13.

“Dillan had his best wrestling at the end of the year,” said Ostby. “His technique improved and he was finding ways to win the close matches.”

Myles Smith finished the season 17-15 and took fourth at sections.

“If he stays healthy, Myles will be in contention to go to state,” said Ostby. “He’s got all the tools.”

Travis Ostby finished his freshman year 25-18, placing third at sections after losing a true-second match.

“He’ll be a key in our middle weights,” said Ostby. “He can wrestle up a weight or two to help us match up well in duals.”

Alec Gausman finished his sophomore year 9-24.

“He’s going to be our big guy next year,” explained Ostby. “He’ll need to step up and be the anchor for us.”

The highlight of the season for coach Ostby was finishing 12th of 35 teams at the Big Bear Tournament in December. The Tigers had five place winners at the invite. Ostby describes the invite as a “mini state tournament.”

At the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa tournament, the Tigers placed fifth and had another five place winners. The Tigers took fourth at the Grant County Tournament, earning 10 individual place winners. At the Big Ole Tournament in Alexandria, the Tigers finished sixth and had seven wrestlers place. The Tigers were fourth at the West Central Conference Tournament, where eight Tigers placed. Travis Ostby, Evan Nelson, Connor Metzger, and Joel Harrison earned all-conference status at the meet. Dillan Johnson received an honorable mention.

The regular season wrapped up with the Tigers’ home invite at which 11 wrestlers from the home team placed.

“That was pretty impressive,” said Ostby. “It was awesome. With the talent we have we were right where we should have been. We peaked at the right time.”

Ostby is looking forward to next season and is excited about the Tigers’ opportunities. Two teams, Adrian and Montevideo, will no longer be part of Section 3AA. Joining the Tigers’ section will be New Ulm. Adrian was the section champion this season and also took seven individuals to the state tournament.

“That makes our chances even better in 2014,” explained Ostby. “That’s seven more spots for our kids to get to state.”

Making it to the state tournament will require wrestlers to get in a lot of wrestling in the off-season and attend a couple of camps. Mick Rose is running a freestyle Greco league for K-12 wrestlers this summer.

The Tigers experienced success in the classroom, as well as on the mat, earning the Silver Award for Academics with a GPA of 3.43.

“The kids understand what it takes,” added Ostby. “Our goal is to win championships. We won’t be satisfied until we do.”