Tigers play host to conference tournament Feb. 1
BY DAVID PEDERSEN
Miles Hammerlund of Delano has designed a formula used in preparing for each wrestling match. The strategy helped the senior capture his 100th career victory last week to be 100-34.
“Before every match I repeat in my head the same two phrases over and over many times,” said Hammerlund about saying, got to fight and got to win. “Then I slap myself in the face to wake me up.”
The ritual is hard to argue as Hammerlund is 23-1 this season and is ranked No. 2 in the state at 170 pounds in Class AA. He also is a defending state runner-up and the first Tiger wrestler to advance to the state title match.
Home town fans can watch Hammerlund and all of the Tiger wrestlers when Delano plays host to the 10-team Wright County Conference tournament, starting at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1 in the field house.
“Miles has had an excellent season and has been very consistent,” said coach Jeff Olson. “He’s had a number of very tough opponents, so having just the one loss shows that he comes ready to compete every match.”
Hammerlund’s only loss was 7-5 against the state’s No. 1-ranked Class A wrestler from Bethlehem Academy at the Rumble on the River tournament in Fargo over the holiday break.
The Delano senior has worked hard on conditioning and against quality opposition because he has learned how getting a shot at the top does not happen every day. As a sophomore he was ranked No. 2 in the section but got sick and could not compete.
Roaring back to claim the section crown as a junior last season, Hammerlund made the most of the opportunity by advancing to the title match. He lost to a dominating undefeated wrestler.
“Wrestling at state was the best feeling I ever had, actually,” recalls Hammerlund about everything seeming bigger, brighter and better. “You have all those people watching you wrestle and everybody willing to go harder.”
Wanting a last shot at the state title, Hammerlund said he did a lot off season wrestling. He competed in Greco-Roman style in the spring, plus competed for the Minnesota National Dual Meet team. Miles qualified to the prestigious national event in South Carolina, losing by one in the finals to a top-ranked wrestler in Wisconsin.
“What I like most about wrestling in the summer is I don’t have to cut weight like during the season,” adds Hammerlund. “The off-season is a time to relax and I can wrestle at where I want to weight. During the season I like winning more.”
In the fall, Hammerlund did a lot of running with the soccer team. After his senior season of wrestling he wants to try playing for the area rugby team because, “after not playing football since my sophomore year, I want a sport where I can hit some guys.”
Hammerlund credits recent success to his coaches, plus having a good training partner in cousin Aaron Wagner, a promising sophomore who started at fullback for the football team.
“To do well in wrestling someone has to push you,” adds Hammerlund about how winning does not come naturally. “I also trained with Andy Reider, who I bet would have made it to state had he not injured his knee playing football.”
Hammerlund has been accepted to attend Augsburg College, one of the top Division 3 wrestling programs in the country each year. He also applied at Minnesota State-Mankato.
The last Tiger wrestler to make the 100-win club was Joe Hessing in 2010. Hammerlund is the ninth member, the first being B.J. Trende in 1992.
Connor Dalbec became the 15th member of the 75-win club to be 76-48 for his career.
Delano fields a small team where it forfeits at several weight classes in dual meet. Varsity wrestlers include Tucker Sjomeling, Cole Paskach, Zach Knight, Sam Fink, Colton Christiansen, Gunnar Bergstrom, Kevin Kneisl, Walker Russek, Camden Tschudi, Austin Green and Kooper Anderson.
The Tigers wrestle at Cooper, 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7 and at the Dassel-Cokato Invitational Saturday, Feb. 9.
Contact David Pedersen at email@example.com