Nationally Ranked Knight wrestlers optimistic for season

Returning STMA senior wrestlers include Cole Sladek, Tanner Mills, Ryan Rostamo, Mitchel Herian, Lincoln Mallinger Owen Gammell, Ricky Briggs, Mitchell Eull, Thor Holstad and Michael Kessler. (Photo by Bill Halldin)

Returning STMA senior wrestlers include Cole Sladek, Tanner Mills, Ryan Rostamo, Mitchel Herian, Lincoln Mallinger Owen Gammell, Ricky Briggs, Mitchell Eull, Thor Holstad and Michael Kessler. (Photo by Bill Halldin)

Being mentioned in the national rankings for the St. Michael-Albertville wrestling program is nothing new, but this season brings somewhat more special recognition for the STMA wrestling team as they are ranked 5th in the nation by the Intermat wrestling publication pre-season poll.

Besides the high ranking for the Knights, there is reason for optimism in the STMA camp, as they have 9 returning Minnesota state place-winners projected to be in their lineup.

ऀHead coach Dan Lefebvre begins his 7th season (2 years as co-head and 5th year as solo) as Knights’ head coach and his 24th season as a coach in the STMA wrestling program. Assisting Lefebvre with the coaching duties include: Rich Jensen (16th year) and Tony Mallinger (12th), along with volunteer assistants: John Thorn (15th), Jake Grygelko (3rd), Chris Vike (3rd), Robert Clausen (2nd), Joe Grygelko (1st), and Alex VanKrevelen (1st).

Coach Lefebvre commented, regarding his wrestlers, “The guys are really working hard and very excited for the season to get started.”

ऀThe competitive season will get started on Saturday December 1st as the Knights host the annual STMA Invitational that will bring in 10 teams competing in an individual tourney format. The tourney starts at 10:00 AM with B-squad rounds and first round varsity matches commence at 11:30 AM at STMA High School. Final round placing matches for varsity are slated for 3:30 PM. The very competitive tournament is scheduled to have an amazing 17 wrestlers that have been state place-winners, competing for individual weight class titles. Grant Nehring (St. Cloud Apollo), Mitch Bengston (St. Cloud Apollo), and Tommy Thorn (STMA) have each won at least one individual state title.

ऀAnother upcoming competition that will attract a lot of interest statewide, and even nationwide, will be when the Knights host 4-time time defending “AA” state champs, Simley, in a dual meet on Friday December 7th at STMA. The B-squad match starts at 6:00 PM with varsity to follow at approximately 7:30 PM. Simley is ranked first in Minnesota class “AA” and is ranked 8th in the nation. The Knights open the season ranked second in the state in class “AAA” behind Apple Valley. Apple Valley is ranked 4th in the nation, just ahead of STMA.

ऀSenior Lincoln Mallinger says, “The key to success in our season will be staying healthy and keeping our focus so that we get better everyday.” Another senior Cole Sladek added, “I’m so excited about just how tough our lineup is and we just want to have fun working hard and competing as a team.”

ऀThe Knights have been in the highest class, class “AAA” in Minnesota, for the past 3 seasons, finishing as state runnerups to Apple Valley in each of those 3 seasons.

Senior Ricky Briggs would like to see the team move up a notch this year and says, “To realize our team and individual goals this year, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication and a lot of sacrificing for the sake of the team, whether someone has to go down a weight or move up a weight to help the team.”

ऀThis year’s start-to-the-season-lineup according to Coach Lefebvre, with not every weight class totally solidified, looks something like this: (wrestler’s current individual State ranking according to “The Guillotine” wrestling publication is listed, also).

106 pounds-Freshman Mitch McKee (#1)

113-Junior Aaron Dick (#7)

120-Junior Colton Schoen

126-Junior Tommy Thorn (#1)

132-Senior Tanner Mills (#3)

138-Junior Mark Voss (#1)

145-Senior Cole Sladek (#1)

152-Senior Lincoln Mallinger (#4)

160-Senior Thor Holstad

170-Seniors Evan Gammell, Ryan Rostamo, and sophomore Jordan Joseph (#4)

182-Sophomore Jake Briggs

195-Senior Ricky Briggs (#4)

220-Senior Mitchell Eull (#4)

285-Senior Mikey Kessler (#4)

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