2012-13 Winter Preview: Expectations are high for Park wrestling this winter
The expectations are high for the Park wrestling team this winter. But, that's what happens when you set the bar up there.
Park is coming off a school-record 21 dual-meet-win season in 2011-12, which was highlighted by an all-state performance from 195-pounder Cody Linssen.
The bad news is, the Wolfpack graduated seven seniors last year, with six of them having 20 or more wins. But longtime head coach Jim LaBrosse said he feels he has other wrestlers who will step up this season.
"It's a big loss for us and it will definitely be tough to fill those shoes, but we feel we have enough underclassmen who have put in the time in the offseason to field a competitive team," said LaBrosse, a 1983 Park grad who has coached the Wolfpack since 2004 and holds the record for career wins as a wrestling head coach at his alma mater.
This winter Park is expected to be led by Linssen, a junior who will wrestle at 220 pounds, along with junior 138/145 pounder David Giadyu, sophomore 160/171 pounder Corey Flaata and freshman 113/120 pounder Collin LaBrosse.
Last year, Linssen made a believer out of many when he finished in sixth place in the Class AAA state wrestling tournament as a sophomore in the 195-pound weight class, earning all-state honors.
Linssen, who entered his first state meet ranked 10th in his weight class in Class AAA, went 2-1 at state, reaching the championship semifinals by beating a pair of wrestlers ranked above him, before suffering a shoulder injury that ended his tournament prematurely. Linssen finished the year 34-4 overall. For the year, Linssen's only losses came to Apple Valley sophomore Paul Cheney, who was ranked fifth; Roseville junior Trae Story, who was ranked fourth; and Lakeville South junior Tom Peterson, who was ranked No. 1.
In addition to Linssen, LaBrosse finished the year 26-8, Flaata was 24-10 and Giadyu was 24-11 last season.
Other upper-class wrestlers LaBrosse said he believes can step in and make a big impact include: seniors Stephen Zemke and Anthony Odegaard at 285, senior Kyle Wetteland at 152, junior Austin Thurmes at 120, junior Daniel Duval at 132/138, junior JP Palias at 138 and juniors LJ Hegland and Carter McPherson at 152. LaBrosse also see big opportunities for a number of underclassmen, including: sophomore Jake Lanik at 138, sophomore Brandon Young at 152/160, sophomore Noah Ijohma at 138/145, sophomore Nick Craten at 160, and sophomores Stephen Thongdysirisack and Danny Zogoa at 285, along with freshmen Bailey Thurmes, Jose Fritz and Jack Cloutier at 106, Paris Harde at 113, Griffin Erickson at 120, Trayden Schufelt at 120/126, Tyler Jager at 132, Sam Figlmiller and Zach Wills at 182, Danial Wagner at 160, Devin Hubbard at 195 and Kyle Lehman at 285.
As a team, Park had 11 place-winners at the Section 3AAA championships and finished in fourth place, but only Linssen was able to advance to state, because Park still must contend with the state's top wrestling program, Apple Valley -- the seven-time defending Class AAA state champion -- in section competition. However, without Hastings in Section 3AAA, too, as of last year, it's believed Park has a better chance to send individuals to state or to go as a team. Last year, Apple Valley ruled the roost in Section 3AAA once again, sending 13 wrestlers to the state meet. Rosemount, which Park had defeated earlier this season, sent the second most individual wrestlers with five.
Park hits the mat for the first time on Dec. 1 at the 16-team Lakeville North Invitational. The Wolfpack's first home action will be the Wolfpack Duals on Saturday, Dec. 8.