Apple Valley wrestling coach Dalen Wasmund insists that the Class 3A, No. 1-ranked and success-laden Eagles wrestling team is no different from any other program in the state.
The Eagles deal with turnover, too. They deal with inexperienced wrestlers breaking into varsity roles.
“Every season, it takes a little while to get going,” Wasmund said. “We’ve been improving [this year], but we have some experienced kids and we have some inexperienced kids.
“It’s just about getting those with less experience to get more comfortable and continuing to improve,” he said.
Apple Valley, winner of nine consecutive big-school state titles and 22 overall, simply makes it look easier.
The Eagles are 13-2 on the season, their only two losses coming against two nationally ranked out-of-state opponents in the Clash XIII national tournament in Rochester on Jan. 3.
The losses don’t bother Wasmund, whose team still placed fourth in the Rochester tournament. He said his team — 9-0 against Minnesota opponents — is beginning to really wrestle well.
There are the expected stars, like Mark Hall and brothers Bobby and Gable Steveson. All three are ranked No. 1 in their respective weight classes.
But there are a couple of surprises.
Seniors Andrew Walock and Mitchell Nelson have both stepped into big roles, Wasmund said, after not getting much time on the mat in previous years.
“They’re kids that have been really good wrestlers, but just had some really good kids ahead of them [in past years],” Wasmund said. “They’re getting their shots now and really doing a great job. It’s a testament for kids who stick it out.”
Northfield girls’ basketball coach Tony Mathison picked up his 200th career victory on Jan. 13 in a 43-26 road victory over Faribault.
Mathison is in his 16th season leading the Raiders, who are 7-7 on the season and sit in the middle of the pack in the Big 9 standings at 6-4.
• New Prague senior center Maddie Giesen concluded a strong week of play with a career-high 16 points in a 61-58 come-from-behind victory over Delano in the Trojans’ Wright County Conference opener. She also contributed 16 points in victories over Waseca and Tartan.
• Senior Lukas Gillett continued his scoring tear for the Rosemount boys’ hockey team last week. He picked up a goal and an assist in each of the Irish’s victories — 3-1 over Eastview on Saturday and 4-3 over No. 17 Prior Lake on Thursday. Gillett now has seven goals and nine points in his last four games.