by Eric Oslund
The Zimmerman Thunder wrestling program competed in the section 6AA team tournament on Saturday, Feb. 18. They are in a rebuilding year and have been forfeiting nearly half their weight classes all season long. It led to a lot of losses, and the team knew it would make things difficult in this tournament.
They were given the 11th seed and drew Big Lake in the first round. The Thunder ended up losing 60-18, bringing their night to an earlier end, but there was some positives that came from it. There were multiple JV wrestlers that were able to fill in and gain experience at the varsity level in a big tournament – experience that should go a long ways in the coming years.
“We left it up to them,” head coach Mark Hayes said of his young wrestlers that stepped up. “There were some guys that didn’t feel up to it and weren’t ready for it yet. So we didn’t push them into it. We let them if they wanted to go and get that experience, then we let them go. If they weren’t ready for it we didn’t hold anything against them because of it. They’d be a part of the team and just watch.”
Joe Montplaisir fell at 106 pounds 8-1; Evan Carr pinned his opponents at 113; Joe Gardus recorded a fall at 120; Brandon Schnellman lost by a fall at 132; Trent Kohner lost by a fall at 145; Ben Schnellman lost 9-4 at 152; Dustin Dittburner lost by a fall at 160; Cody Frederick lost by a fall at 170; Justin Robinson recorded a pin at 182; and Austing Robinson lost by a fall at 195. The team forfeited at 126 and 138.
Now, the team is preparing for the individual section tournament that will occur this weekend from Friday, Feb. 24, through Saturday, Feb. 25. This is the portion of the section tournament they have been eyeing for a majority of the season because they know they have multiple kids who all have a good chance at making it to state, most notably are Montplaisir, Carr, Justin Robinson and Kaleb Kliever.
Kliever was unable to wrestle in the team portion of the section tournament, but Hayes said he will be good to go this weekend.