April 22, 2024

WCAABE Knights Wrestling Six Knights Wrestlers Medal at the MN USA State Tournament

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By Brandon Gruchow
WCAABE Knights Wrestling Coach & WCWC Program Coordinator

Twelve wrestlers ranging from the 8U to the 16U age divisions made the trek to Rochester and competed against some of the state’s top competitors at the MN/USA STATE FOLKSTYLE Tournament Friday through Sunday, March 17-19, at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester.

Many of these wrestlers have been training with the Knights wrestling program the past few months either as part of the 7-12 program or the elementary program, which is currently being run by Randy Denardo, Shane Wevley, Dallas Koplin, Joe Richter, and a handful of other wrestling dads helping out when they can. The WCWC is the USA Wrestling chartered club that these athletes also train and compete with and will start training in the Freestyle and Greco disciplines starting March 23. The club is run by Scott Johnson, who is from Alexandria and has a true passion for teaching and working with area wrestlers in Greco and Freestyle wrestling. 

State individual competition started on Friday, March 17 for the 6U and 8U wrestlers and ended with 14U and 16U on Sunday, March 19. Many matches were wrestled and many emotions were felt. The agony of defeat and the ecstasy of victory was a definite presence at the Mayo Civic Center over those three days.

State Champion Freddi Munoz was awarded his first-place medal by the honorary guest Haydan Zilmer. Zilmer (USA Wrestling World Team Member | 6X National Team Member | D1 NCAA All-American | 2024 Future Olympian | Gopher RTC |) is no stranger to the Knight wrestlers as he has made his way to our wrestling room a few times to teach us his tricks and tools in the sport.

Munoz started wrestling just last season so he is finding success early in his career. Caden Wevley was also recognized at the tournament for being a triple crown winner in the 2022 season (winning a state title in folkstyle, freestyle, and Greco) a very elusive task to complete, and was awarded a very cool plaque in front of the whole crowd before the finals matches started.

A special shout out to Shane Wevley and Joe Richter for taking the time to get properly trained and certified to make sure all our wrestlers were ready to wrestle and coached through all their matches!

MN USA Wrestling is not as popular in the local area as the NYWA or even the Jaycees State tournaments. However, that doesn’t seem to lighten the load in the highly competitive brackets as there is a high population in the metro area as well as some of the best out-state athletes that choose to compete in the MN USA events. MN/USA Wrestling is the designated state affiliate organization for USA Wrestling, the governing body for the Sport of Wrestling in the United States. It’s responsible for promoting, governing, and developing amateur wrestling programs in the State of Minnesota. Simply, MN/USA Wrestling is the central organization that coordinates amateur wrestling programs in Minnesota and works to create interest and participation in these programs. 

The many programs and activities conducted by MN/USA Wrestling, or it’s chartered clubs, provide opportunities for youth and adults alike to gain an understanding and appreciation for the international styles of wrestling – Freestyle and Greco-Roman, and folkstyle (scholastic and collegiate) which is the style practiced at high schools and colleges across the country. MN/USA Wrestling has more than 5300 members, These members include athletes of all ages, coaches, and officials striving together to strengthen the sport. Part of MN/USA Wrestling’s mission is to foster grassroots development for the sport. Each year, MN/USA Wrestling charters over 65 wrestling clubs and sanctions over 35 local, state, regional, and national competitions. These opportunities and more are just a small part of the exciting world of MN/USA Wrestling.

Members of the MN/USA Wrestling Family enjoy many of the following benefits including: participation in local, regional, and national competitions, four levels of coaches certification, the opportunity to travel abroad with developmental tours for cadet, junior, women, university and senior level athletes, educational videos and written materials, Regional and National training and developmental camps for youth through senior-level athletes, free subscription to USA Wrestler, the officials publication of USA Wrestling, fundraising opportunities for chartered clubs, and discounts on USA Wrestling merchandise.

Participation in MN USA is something we are trying to grow and foster here in the West Central part of the state. Many are unfamiliar and uneducated in Greco and Freestyle and therefore they shy away from it. Give it a shot, take a chance, you may find that you enjoy wrestling and watching Greco and Freestyle even more than Folkstyle. It will take some getting used to and it may be different then past practice. I encourage all area wrestlers, coaches, parents, officials, and wrestling supporters to get involved and get active and be part of MN USA wrestling! 

Thank you to all the workers and officials for running another fantastic state tournament. Congratulations to the athletes, parents, and coaches to all our MN USA State participants and place-winners. To the local area wrestlers-you are paving a less traveled road that we hope will eventually become more frequently traveled. Good luck during your Freestyle and Greco seasons. Who knows… maybe sometime in the future you will be the next olympian.

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