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Continued: For Totino-Grace wrestler, sport becomes therapy

  • Article by: JIM PAULSEN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: January 28, 2014 - 5:58 AM

“He came to us a few days later and plopped $2,000 down in front of us,” Tom said. “He told me he could pay for his first few months and work for the rest. How could we say no?”

That determination is no surprise to Svihel, who has watched Lance up close for three years.

“That’s who he is,” Svihel said. “He doesn’t shy away from a challenge. He seeks them out.”

The drive each school day from Scandia to Fridley can be difficult — “about 40 minutes without traffic,” Lance said — but attending Totino-Grace has worked out. His physicality and athleticism translate nearly as well to football, where he’s been a mainstay in the Eagles’ backfield.

“I’m so glad he’s there,” Joanne said. “It’s been absolutely the right decision.”

Always do what mom says

Outwardly, the effects of Joanne’s illness have had little effect on Lance’s success. A string of championships at the high school and national level has resulted in his No. 1 ranking at 195 pounds in all three of the prominent national high school wrestling services — Intermat, Amateur Wrestling News and

Most who watch him on the mat are likely clueless about the family’s struggles. But Lance said his mother is always on his mind.

“I’ve never talked about it much,” he said. “I still don’t. But I’m always thinking about it. When it first happened, I thought about taking a break but I knew that’s not what she wanted. If I had, she would have said, ‘Get your ass back out on the mat.’ And you should do what your mom says, right?”

Both credit wrestling with helping get them to where they are now.

“I think she needed to see me wrestle,” Lance said. “It helped her get through some of her tough times.”

And for the competitor himself, the sport served as both a challenge and a distraction.

“Wrestling helped him,” she said. “It took his mind off of me and what I was going through.”


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  • Video: No. 1-ranked wrestler faces challenges on and off mat

    Tuesday January 28, 2014

    Totino-Grace wrestler Lance Benick is fighting to remain the No. 1-ranked high school wrestler in the nation at 195...

  • Lance Benick, center, with brother Luke and mother Joanne

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