PREP WRESTLING: Knights improve their dual record
The first time Matt Berglund heard the reference to his team as a bunch of average Joes, it was from Spencer Oen in the practice room. Oen, a junior 152-pounder for the Grand Forks Central High School wrestling team, stands by the description of ...
The first time Matt Berglund heard the reference to his team as a bunch of average Joes, it was from Spencer Oen in the practice room.
Oen, a junior 152-pounder for the Grand Forks Central High School wrestling team, stands by the description of the Knights team.
"It kind of speaks for itself," Oen said. "None of us are ranked high in the state. We don't have a state champion back from last year, or a lot of returning state placers. We just have a lot of guys who work hard.
"I take it as a pride thing. It might sound berating to some people. But we come out, work hard every day and beat some good teams."
These average Joes are closing in on a record-setting season in the Central program.
After going 3-3 at the Grand Forks Multiple this weekend, the Knights improved their dual record to 16-9. That leaves Central one shy of tying the program's single-season record for dual wins. The 1987-88 team holds the Central record when it went 17-2-1.
"The team with the record wrestled fewer duals,'' Berglund, the Central coach, said. "But we still had to go out and prove ourselves, to beat teams. We have a lot of guys who had to prove themselves coming into the season, a lot of guys who were .500, or less, for their careers.
"I knew we had potential because of the number of quality kids we had returning. We were seventh out of the nine teams in the region coming into the season as far as returning points scored at state last season. But I felt our guys had gotten a lot better.''
The average Joes are reflected in the state coaches' poll.
In the most recent poll, Central had only three wrestlers ranked in the top six in their weight classes. The highest was Kyle Terrill, fourth at 182 pounds. Also ranked were Tyler Keener (fifth at 113) and Oen (sixth at 152).
But polls don't faze the Knights. In the multiple this weekend, for instance, Knights 126-pounder Brandon Hanson beat No. 4 Brandon Zachmeier of Mandan and No. 5 Alex Hoffman of Bismarck.
"That didn't surprise me,'' Berglund said. "We have a lot of guys we know will go out and compete in every match. I think we could have at least seven placers at the state tournament.''
That could redefine the Knights as a bunch of above-average Joes. But it isn't about star power. "It's a matter of balance,'' Oen said. "Nobody carries our team.''
The balance showed in the Multiple. Terrill was 6-0 to lead Central, while Oen and Hanson were both 5-1 and Nick Escobar 4-1. Eight Knights had three or more wins.
"They've embraced that average Joe,'' Berglund said. "They like that, the underdog mentality.''