Tiger wrestlers 'Fear nothing'
First-year head coach Troy Ostby and the Morris Area/Hancock/Chokio-Alberta wrestling team adopted a motto at the start of the 2010-2011 season: "Fear Nothing."
"That's how they had to wrestle and I had to coach," said Ostby. "By mid-season the kids bought into that motto. They went out expecting to win, instead of hoping to win."
Ostby also set a couple attainable goals to start the season, both of which the Tigers accomplished.
Ostby wanted the Tigers to win at least five duals - they won six.
He wanted the team to win their first section play-off match - they defeated Montevideo in the first round.
He also asked his wrestlers to write down personal goals and keep them in their lockers as reminders.
While he doesn't know what all those goals were, he does know that the Tigers had eight place winners at the West Central Conference South meet, four champions at various tournaments, and two state entrants.
Seventh grader Travis Ostby wrestled at 103 pounds. He finished the season at 9-12 after a late start with a broken ankle.
"I think that set him back a little," said coach Ostby.
At 112 pounds, sophomore Evan Nelson finished 21-18. He took fourth in sections.
"His biggest highlight was collecting 36 points in 3-point near falls."
Freshman Dillon Johnson finished 10-22.
"He works hard and it shows on the mat."
Freshman Myles Smith had a 19-9 season at 125 pounds. His 46 takedowns were the second highest on the team. He placed sixth at sections.
"He improved a lot."
Sophomore Seth Nelson finished 14-19.
"Seth had a big win for us against Montevideo in the section tournament," explained Ostby. "That was the turning point in the match."
Freshman Jerid Berning had one overtime win for the Tigers against Minnewaska in Hancock.
"That was the coach's most memorable win."
Junior Tony Domnick finished 15-17 after some injury issues at 135 pounds. He placed fifth at sections.
"I expect him to be a 25-match winner next year."
Freshman Jordan Thooft finished 14-19 with 30 takedowns.
"He was one of our hardest workers."
At 152 pounds, junior Tim Ostby had a 31-11 season with 60 takedowns. He also had a team-high 71 points for the Tigers. He took second at sections and was the champion at the Big Ole Tournament in Alexandria.
"Coaching my own kid at the state tourney was pretty awesome."
Sophomore Connor Metzger returned to wrestling after taking two years off to finish 19-21 at 160 pounds. He placed fourth at sections.
The team's only senior, Ryan Beyer, finished 14-23 at 189 pounds. It was just his third year of wrestling. He placed fifth at sections.
"He was a great role model."
Junior Joel Harrison finished 10-20 and was the Morris Invitation champion at 215.
"Joel is one of the reasons Zach was a state wrestler," said Ostby. "He made Zach better because they wrestled in practice."
At heavyweight, junior Zach Gibson had a 34-5 season and was the team's most valuable wrestler. He had the most pins - 16 - and the most wins. He took second place at sections and was the champion of both the Paynesville and Alexandria tournaments.
Other wrestlers that saw limited varsity action included sophomore Aaron Wehking and junior Tyler Moser.
Wehking returned to wrestling after taking a year off and finished 2-16. Moser, in his first year wrestling, was 2-2 with a 16-second pin at the Tiger Invite.
It was the first season in a while that the Tigers managed to fill all the weight classes.
"Not giving up forfeits or wrestling kids that weren't ready was the key to our success," added Ostby. "That was huge having quality wrestlers at each weight.
"You don't need all 20-win kids, you need five or six and some consistency."
With that said, Ostby believes there are three keys to next season's success.
First of all, "we need to keep the numbers up."
Lifting weights, running, and attending camps is important in the off-season.
Lastly, he encourages his team to keep in touch with their teammates.