Park youth wrestling: Medals aplenty from state matThe Park youth wrestling program capped the year by sending 27 wrestlers, ages 5 to 16, to state, yielding nine place winners and one state champion. Over 1,500 wrestlers from all over Minnesota took part.
By: Patrick Johnson, Staff Writer, South Washington County Bulletin
For the Park youth wrestling team, four-and-a-half months of hard work culminated with a trip to the Minnesota/USA State Folkstyle Wrestling Tournament, held March 11 to 13 at Rochester Community and Technical College.
In a season beginning back in early November, the Park youth wrestling program capped the year by sending 27 wrestlers, ages 5 to 16, to state, yielding nine place winners and one state champion. Over 1,500 wrestlers from all over Minnesota took part.
“Placing nine wrestlers at the state championships is a significant improvement from the five we had last year,” said second-year head coach Bill Thurmes. “All of our student athletes strive to qualify and place at the state tournament. This season was very successful, and our wrestlers are already looking forward to next year.”
At the state tournament, wrestlers compete in five age divisions — PeeWee (2005-2006), Bantam (2003-2004), Intermediate (2001-2002), Novice (1999-2000) and Schoolboy (1998), and 16 weight classes ranging from 45 to 200 pounds.
At state, Park’s Steve Thongdysiricack defeated fellow teammate Justin Saben 6-3 in the state championship match at the Schoolboy age group — for fourth- and fifth-graders — leading the way for Park — which trained at the Park High School wrestling room every Monday and Wednesday night.
In addition to Thongdysiricack and Saben, other place winners from Park were Ethan Morrell (fourth place), Noah Johnson (second place) Austin Thurmes (fourth place), Cory Flaata (third place), Sam Figlmiller (third place), Zach Wills (third place) and Cody Linssen (second place).
Morrell is a first-year wrestler who recorded a pin in the consolation semifinals. He lost his third-place match and finished fourth. Johnson pinned his opponent in the championship semifinals before losing in the championship match. Austin Thurmes won an exciting overtime victory 4-2 in the championship quarterfinals. He scored a takedown late in the third period and won a sudden victory with a takedown in overtime.
Flaata was battling a rib injury throughout the tournament and had back-to-back wins against very tough wrestlers in the consolation semifinals and third-place match. Sam Figlmiller pinned his last two opponents to win third place. His only loss on the weekend was to the state champion at his weight class. Wills placed at the tournament for the second year in a row. He finished sixth last year. His only loss was to the state champion at his weight class. Linssen recorded pins in his quarterfinal and semifinal matches. He placed third in 2010 and second in 2008 at the state tournament.
“The state championships are a culmination of months of hard work by these student athletes,” Thurmes said. “The season begins in November and concludes in March. Throughout the season the kids participate in qualifying tournaments or the Middle School Wrestling program run by Leroy Olson, Matt VanHorn and Tony Young. Over the course of the season the wrestlers will wrestle upwards of 30 matches.”
The season is broken down by two sessions. The first session concludes in December with an in-house tournament. When the kids come back from winter break the second session starts. Every weekend Park sends wrestlers to qualifying tournaments throughout the Twin Cities. To qualify for the state tournament each wrestler must accumulate 25 points.
In addition to the place winners, also qualifying for state from Park were: Drew Bausworth, Carlos LaBrosse, Zach Silvas, Kyle Marty, Johnny Lacore, Dustin Drkula, Damien Gomez, Andreas Sandoval, Carter Gibbons, Andrew Diaz, Cole Maki, Logan Czarnota, Garrett Whitehead, Bailey Thurmes, Daniel Ruiz, Collin LaBrosse, Jake Lanik and Brandon Young.
“Many of our wrestlers are going to continue wrestling this off season in freestyle and Greco wrestling,” Thurmes said. “This level of dedication will pay off next year and beyond as they prepare for wrestling varsity in high school. Off season training in this sport is critical to success at the high school level.”