by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
It’s been a building year, to say the least, for Zimmerman wrestling, with a new coach, a small and very young roster, and just one standout veteran who’s missed most of the season.
The Thunder had entrants at just six of the 14 slots, which is about normal, at the Elk River Invitational on Saturday, and placed eighth among 10 teams, with one runner-up and two third-placers.
“We’ve got a lot of kids who aren’t ready for varsity and we’re not going to throw them to the wolves,” said coach Jason Thompson, adding the he was used to incomplete lineups because he had the same situation in previous posts at Orono and Richfield.
“But I don’t see any quit in these kids. We have a good group and they have come a long way since last year.”
Mitch Robinson, junior at 182 pounds, is the top returning wrestler, but was sidelined by mono until this week.
Robinson was the lone finalist for the Thunder, winning twice before losing in the finals to Dassel-Cokato’s Andrew Matson 2-0 (one penalty point for forgetting to lace his shoes, and one escape).
Zimmerman has 26 kids in the room, and 17 of them are in grades 7-8. There’s only two seniors.
One of the seniors, Junior Patterson, a transfer from Milaca, was not activated until Saturday due to an injury and other issues, said Thompson. Patterson placed third with a 3-1 record including a default win.
Hunter Smith, sophomore with the team’s best record (16-8) also placed third, at 120. Eighth-grader Chase Rosby (13-10) had a bye, a win and two losses, and placed fourth at 132. Freshman Austin May (12-10) was 2-2 at 145 and placed fifth.
Thunder are 2-8 with wins over two other shorthanded teams.
“You just work with the kids and try get a win wherever you can,” said Thompson, adding that they inserted a couple JV kids to collect forfeits against Ogilvie on Thursday.
Last year the Thunder had four state qualifiers, including Robinson and Smith, in Section 5AA, but this year have been moved to Section 6AA.
“Last year the section was very favorable, but it’s going to be a lot tougher (to qualify) this year,” said Thompson.
Zimmerman will wrestle at Becker on Tuesday.
How Thunder fared
106 – no entry
113 – no entry
120 – Hunter Smith (16-8) was 3-1, 3rd place
126 – no entrant
132 – Chase Rosby (13-10) was 1-2, 4th place
138 – no entrant
145 – Austin May (12-10) was 2-2, 5th place
152 – Alex Collins (2-13) was 0-2
160 – Junior Patterson (3-1) was 3-1, 1 pin, 3rd place
170 – no entry
182 – Mitch Robinson (4-2) was 2-1, 2nd place
195 – no entry
220 – Zach Brown (6-16) was 2-3, 6th place
220 – no entry
285 – no entry