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Wrestling — a season of success

By Staff | Jun 14, 2009

The Blue Earth Area wrestling team may have a hard time topping last year’s success.

But, they aren’t going to rest on their laurels.

For the fourth straight year, BEA will be attending a wrestling camp for teams.

The last three years the Bucs have gone to Augsburg College to improve their skills. This year they’ll head south to Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

Head Coach Randy Wirtjes says 18 wrestlers have signed up for the camp to be held July 8-11.

In addition to providing a learning experience, Wirtjes says the wrestlers have fun and learn a lot about their teammates.

“I think it’s a good team builder. No one expected us to go 26-2 last year,” he says. “The kids wrestle quite a few matches and learn technique.”

The coach expects each wrestler will have at least 15 matches and some as many as 20.

The Bucs won the South Central Conference during the regular season with a 5-0 dual record. They were runners-up in Section 2A Team Tournament and ranked as high as No. 8 in Class A ratings.

Wirtjes will have seven varsity letterwinners with more than 20 wins returning and one who had 19 wins. In all, they will have 13 lettermen next year.

Of the 10 Section medal winners, seven return for another season.

The Bucs, however, will have to find a way to fill two big holes — heavyweight Jake Lee and 215-pounder Mat Willner.

The ‘Big Boys’ led the team in most offensive categories and combined for a season record of 85-3.

Lee finished second in the state and ended the season 42-2. His two losses were to state champion Jon Farnell of Chatfield.

Willner rebounded from a first-round loss at state and worked his way through the wrestlebacks to earn a third-place medal. He ended the season with a 43-1 record.

Willner was in the top five in all four offensive categories.

His 30 pins set a new school record, crushing Shawn Ehrich’s old mark of 23. Lee had the second most pins on the team with 22.

Willner also led the team in points with 233, was second in near falls with 32 and fourth in takedowns with 65.

Lee was second in team points with 212 and sixth in takedowns with 58.

The Buc heavyweight recorded the fastest pin of the year, needing only 11 seconds to put his opponent’s shoulders to the mat.

Lee wasn’t just successful on the mat. He also excelled in the classroom.

Lee’s grade-point-average of 3.42 earned him a spot on the The Guillotine wrestling magazine’s 2009 Academic All-State Wrestlers — Second Team.

Three wrestlers reached the 30-win mark.

Sophomore Jake Wirtjes was 34-8 at 112 pounds. He was first on the team in near falls with 38, second in takedowns with 75, third in pins with 18 and third in team points with 174.

Junior Daniel Eckhardt put together a 31-9 record at 152. His 71 takedowns were third on the team and he recorded the fourth-most team points with 144.

Joe Franta went 30-11 at 125 pounds. The Buc sophomore led the team with 107 takedowns.

He was third in near falls with 21 and collected 140 team points to claim the No. 5 spot.

Other statistic leaders:


189: Taylor Andrews, 28-15.

103: Travis Hagedorn, 26-12.

119: D.J. Gronewald, 24-17.

130: Carter Hanson, 24-11.

145: Sinjin Bell, 24-12.

135: Bryce Werner, 21-19.

160: Cody Eckhardt, 19-19.


Bell, 59; Werner, 56; Andrews, 49.


Hagedorn, 13, C. Eck-hardt, 13; Gronewald, 11; D. Eckhardt, 11; Bell 10.

Near falls:

Hanson, 16; C. Eckhardt, 16; Hagedorn, 15; D. Eck-hardt, 15; Gronewald, 13.

Team points:

Hagedorn, 138; Bell, 121; Gronewald, 119.

Quickest fall:

Hanson, :19; Willner, :20; Werner, 22: Gronewald, 23; Wirtjes, :29.

2009 awards:

Most Improved JV: Devon Jahnke.

Most Improved Var-sity: Bell.

Iron Man Award: Lee and Willner.

Dick Boran Award: Wirtjes.

Fastest Fall: Lee, :11.

Most Falls: Willner, 30.

Most Takedowns: Franta, 107.

Most Team Points: Willner, 233,

Most Near Falls: Wirtjes, 38.