2012-13 Winter Preview: East Ridge wrestling team's lightweights set to do heavy lifting
For East Ridge wrestling head coach Hans Horning, the wrestling season is about progression and improvement.
Horning, who enters his fourth season at the helm of the Raptors, has seen his program grow from meager beginnings and numbers to becoming a formidable team with sixth-place state finisher Reid Lyden and the Raptors notching its first-ever Suburban East Conference win as a team versus Cretin-Derham Hall.
"I have seen our goals increase over the past three seasons from simply getting a takedown, winning one match, or not getting pinned to having winning seasons, having ranked wrestlers, and having state tournament place winners,'" Horning said.
Spearheading the development for the Raptors is Lyden, a junior who eclipsed the 100-win mark last season on his way to his sixth-place finish at the 106-pound weight class. Lyden enters the season up a few weight classes at 126 pounds and is ranked seventh to start the year.
Lyden leads a Raptors team that is packed full of young talent in the lower weights, which has been a bit of a theme over the past few seasons.
"We are going to be young and packed in the lower weights," Horning said. "(We have) only three seniors and very few wrestlers in the 182 to heavyweight spots. Our young wrestlers are getting tougher and tougher, so we should jump out ahead in most matches."
The youth movement of East Ridge features underclassman MJ Okada at the 106 weight division, who is ready to be formidable figure during the upcoming season. Okada finished last season with an 18-7 record, and Horning says Okada has a real shot at the state tournament.
As does juniors Jake Trevis, who was one match away from the state tournament last year, and junior big man J.C. Hassenauer.
Trevis lost a true-second wrestle back in the sectional tournament last year. In that same tournament, Trevis pinned three of his five opponents, and he finished the season 25-17 at 113. Trevis hopes to continue and improve upon his late season success.
Hassenauer, who is already a Division 1 prospect as a football player, is expected to anchor the team in the heavyweight division. Hassenauer battled for the varsity spot last year with then-senior Sean Kallevig, who took fifth-place at the sectional tournament.
The Raptors will be without Kallevig and three other seniors from last year who made an impact for the team. John Chatterton, who wrestled at 138, Jon Balagot (170) and Kyle Siemers (195) were all senior leaders for the young Raptors team.
Horning said he expects this year's team to build upon what those seniors were able to do last year and mature into leaders themselves.
"This year my goals are to repeat all of last year's accomplishments," Horning said. "We lost a great senior class that will hurt. Our young wrestlers are getting tougher and tougher (though), so we should jump out ahead in most matches. Much like last year, we will see if our upper weights can hold that lead."
The Raptors season begins at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, in Stillwater with a varsity triangular with East Ridge, Forest Lake and Stillwater. The following day, on Dec. 1, the team has its first varsity tournament in Hastings.