18 March 2014

In a word: Outstanding

A record five Tigers qualified for the state meet
Many adjectives could be used to describe the 2013-14 Tiger wrestling season. Record-breaking, remarkable and unparalleled immediately come to mind. 

But maybe it's best to just keep things simple and say that the season just completed was nothing short of outstanding.

Coach Chad Olson ticked off a long list of numbers from the campaign to back that descriptor.
"For starters we had a full line-up all season and more than 50 wrestlers in the high school room," he said. "We wrestled the toughest schedule in Farmington history and still finished 16-12 and beat four ranked-teams in dual meets.

"We finished seventh out of 65 teams at the Rumble on the Red in Fargo and in the top half of the prestigious Minnesota Christmas Tournament in Rochester."

All of those accomplishments came during the regular season but the post-season is where this Tiger team really excelled.

Jamin LeDuc finished state runner-up at 113 pounds (photo by Jim Lindquist)
It hosted a section team meet for the first time in recent memory and in the section individual competition had place-winners in 13 of the 14 weight classes, 12 of them finishing in the top four spots.

A program record five individuals (Jamin LeDuc, Taylor Venz, Joe Hoeve, Victor Gliva and Kyle Benjamin)  qualified for state and another record three (LeDuc, Venz and Hoeve) placed at the state meet. As a team the Tigers placed ninth overall in the point standings, another program record.

If all of those facts weren't enough to earn "outstanding" status, the team had a section grade-point-average of 3.64 (on a 4.00 scale) with 24 team members posting a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

"We had one of the most successful seasons in the program's history," Olson said. "I can't wait for next year to start."

Twenty-four wrestlers eared varsity letters for their efforts this winter, including eight seniors: Brian Caravantes, Joe Hoeve, Joe Liden, Chris McCue, Godfrey Mpetey, CJ Wynings, Santana Perdomo and Jake Rudeen.

"We have a great group of seniors who have played a major role in making the wrestling program successful," Olson said. "A coach is only as good as his athletes and luckily for me they bought into the program four years ago.  

"It is going to be a very difficult to say goodbye. Most of them started out with me five years ago as eighth graders. Over those years they have matured and grown into outstanding young men."

Matt Rustad was named "Outstanding Wrestler" (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Underclassmen letterwinners included juniors Kyle Benjamin, Brayden Chapman, Seth Nechville, Matt Rustad, John Walz and Waiel Yusuf; sophomores Jamin LeDuc, Taylor Venz, Victor Gliva, Trevor Frost, Mason Hawkins, Hayden Kendall and Zach Seufer and freshmen Griffin Davies, Eric Heusbourg and Skylar Raymond.

LeDuc (38-6), who finished runner-up at the state meet, earned Most Valuable Player honors and joined Hoeve (37-8), a fourth place finisher at state, and Mpetey (25-17) on the all-Missota Conference team. Gliva (29-14) and Venz (36-9), third in the state meet, received all-conference honorable mention.

Rustad (29-10) won the Outstanding Wrestler Award and Mpetey was tabbed as the team's most improved performer. Venz won "Most Dedicated" honors while Walz (11-5) received the Tiger Adversity Award. The Sportsmanship Award went to Caravantes.

Taylor Venz, third place finisher at state, joined the 100-Win Club (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Despite the loss of a strong senior class, Olson said the outlook remains bright for the Tiger mat program.

"We lose the eight seniors, but have some depth behind them," he said. "Expectations are we should be better next year, but our schedule is shaping up to be even tougher then this year.  

"We have good numbers coming up with some high caliber wrestlers, but they will need to keep working hard to make a name for themselves at the varsity level."

One thing that will be noticeably different next winter will be the caliber of the opposition as the Tigers make their debut in the South Suburban Conference.

"The South Suburban had six teams in the top 12 in the team standings for the individual state tournament with 32 state place winners," Olson said. "There is not an easy dual in the conference.  

"But we have been competing with those schools for the past four years and have been competitive and successful, so I am not overly concerned with the move. It will definitely make us better at the end of the year."

Senior Joe Hove finished 4th at the state meet (photo by Jim Lindquist)