“They’re young,” Minneota wrestling Coach Joel Skillings has said.
But last week he let his wrestling team know, in no uncertain terms, “That the time for excuses was over. It’s time to get the job done.”
In fact, the coach posted a list of things he wanted to the team to attain, “And they can do it,” Skillings said. Last Thursday, the Vikings proved they can still win the Section 3A title when they beat Pipestone, 42-24.
A year ago, it was Pipestone who popped the Vikings’ state tournament bubble. So the win was, if nothing else, a confidence booster. The same day Quad County (Granite Falls, Renville Co. West, MACCRAY) handed Minneota seven forfeits and a 63-15 decision.
A day later, the Vikings stepped into the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa individual invitational and came home with two champs; three in second and one in third. Minneota’s T.J. Esping, the defending Class A Heavyweight Champ, used a 1-0 decision over Nicholas Radunz of Becker to win the title at the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa Tournament on Saturday. In so doing, Esping picked up his 150th win and helped lead the Vikings to second place in the tournament.
Minneota also got a championship from 132-pounder Teddy Pesch. He got a 5-1 win in the finals to secure the championship in his division.
Second place finishes went to Eric Carrasco, Brant Buysse and Shawn Buysse. Jackson Esping ended a third place honor at 220 pounds.
“We’ve got a chance to do wonderful things. We’ve just got to be a little more thick-skinned,” said Coach Skillings about his young squad. Wrestlers such as Kade Lozinski at 126 pounds and Austin Kloos at 145 came into the season with no varsity experience.
Lozinski took on two-time defending state champ Michael Suda of Pipestone and was pinned but showed a lot of ability to move against the state champ.
Kloos, who lost to Quad County, came back for a win against Pipestone.
As for other newcomers like Justin Johnson at 152 (Got a win at Pipestone), Jonah Gruenes and Trey Gronke, Coach Skillings added, “I saw so many good things.” At the BBE Tournament, Eric Carrasco dropped down from 113 to 106 — the spot he occupied all of last year.
And he got to the finals with a pair of decisions before losing to Kelvin Andrade-Ponce of ACGC, 14-8. Brant Buysse also worked his way to finals with a win and bye, then lost to Mayson Gode of Long Prairie-GW/Browerville, 7-5 in overtime.
Cole VanOverbeke used a quick pin and overtime win to get to the finals at 152 pounds. But in the finals he lost to Adam Jaeger of BBE, 5-2. Shawn Buysse also got to the finals at 182 pounds.
He lost the championship 9-0. Jackson Esping had an interesting time, at 220 pounds.
He pinned Seth Roering of BBE in just 39 seconds to secure third place. His brother T.J. pinned his way to the championship, then had to outlast Nicholas Radunz of Becker, 1-0 to claim the championship.