By Rob LaPlante
Crow River News Sports
St. Michael-Albertville senior Lincoln Mallinger has his future already planned out – at least for the next 12 years that is.
The STMA wrestling phenom is one of six Knights who have committed to a college wrestling program for next season. Mallinger joined teammates Ricky Briggs (Upper Iowa), Mitchell Eull (Minot State) and Cole Sladek (North Dakota State) last November as the latest STMA wrestlers to sign college letter of intents.
Mallinger is just one piece to the puzzle that currently has this year’s STMA squad ranked No. 1 in Class 3A. But if not for Mallinger’s heroics in Rochester in late December, the Knights may still be chasing Apple Valley as high school’s top wrestling program.
“He was the last wrestler and we were down by six,” said STMA head coach Dan Lefebvre. “Lincoln needed a pin to win that match with Carl Sandburg. He went out there and pinned his guy. It was unbelievable. Things like that happen once in a career.”
With Mallinger’s high school wrestling career winding down, he said he’s excited for what’s in store in both the near and distant future.
“This is the first time ever we’ve been ranked No. 1 over Apple Valley, so it’s been awesome so far,” Mallinger said. “In years past, we’ve had good people, but this year the entire team has come together. The Clash was kind of the highlight so far to the season. We are hoping for a state title.”
Mallinger’s rise in the wrestling ranks – currently ranked fourth in Class 3A in the 145-pound weight class – has come at different levels each year in his high school career.
A third-place finish at the state tournament last season in the 138-pound class was the first time he had ever placed at state. His sophomore season he wrestled at 125 pounds and freshman year was at 112.
Mallinger said his preparation during his summers is the biggest key to finding success.
“During the season, you are required to do things to keep in shape,” Mallinger said. “The off-season is the most challenging. You have to sleep and eat right. I usually lift four days a week and you have to discipline yourself all season long.”
With a state title in both team and individual as his goal, Mallinger is ready to take his 4.0 GPA and his wrestling talents to West Point, in a full scholarship he received last fall to attend Army.
While wrestling is his main focus in college, he is undecided at this stage on a major. But he is determined to follow in the footsteps of his father Tony – a former South Dakota state champion in wrestling and current STMA assistant wrestling coach.
“My dad was a big influence on my decision to join the Army,” said Mallinger, who also had offers from Air Force, Bucknell and Columbia University. “He served 21 years and I’ve always admired his military background.”
“Lincoln and his dad are kind of best buddies,” Lefebvre said. “They like a lot of the same things. They are both Yankee and 49ers fans and they have the same lifestyle. The thing that makes Lincoln so special is he does things the right way. He’s earned everything through hard work and is just a gifted student-athlete.”
With the Knights ranked No. 1 and the 49ers making the Super Bowl, maybe things are looking bright in Mallinger’s near future.