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NUA looks for youth to help lead wrestling team in 2021

File photo by Steve Muscatello Cole Ranweiler is back for his senior season for the Eagles’ wrestling team.

NEW ULM — With just two seniors on the team, the New Ulm Area wrestling team will mainly be turning to youth this season in hopes of competing in a dominant section and conference.

The Eagles graduated two-time state qualifying heavyweight Colby Wenninger and 103 total varsity wins among four seniors last spring (Carter Brandes, Jackson Bode, John Mehlhop, Wenninger). On the plus size, two-time state qualifier and senior Cole Ranweiler, returns to the fray to help lead this young group.

Ranweiler went 38-8 last season with 29 pins and placed second in the Section 3AA Tournament. He is expected to compete at 182 pounds this season.

First-year head coach of the wrestling team Kevin Briggs said that Ranweiler has put in a lot of work in the offseason and he doesn’t expect to see any early delays from him.

“During the pandemic, during the shutdown, I’m confident that Cole worked daily to put himself in a position to be succesful this year,” Briggs said. “So he’s not starting behind as we started practice [Jan. 4].”

Other returners from last year with varsity experience that Briggs expects to see step up are junior Julian Hernandez (20 wins last season), senior Caleb Arndt (19 wins last season), freshman Logan Lee and freshman Parker Kamm. Hernandez wrestled at 220 pounds last season and is expected to stay there this season, while Caleb Arndt wrestled at 195 pounds. Kamm and Lee wrestled at 106 and 113, respectively.

In addition to his team being confident in their abilities this season, Briggs said that a main goal he has is to see daily improvement.

“Our goal is to have daily improvement,” Briggs said. “No matter where we’re at, we’re going forward. We’re going to get better each day so that we are hopefully peaking at the right time come the beginning of March, and the season will play out that way. I don’t know how to compare where we’re at to other programs at this time. It’s a new year, other programs graduated starters, we graduated four seniors as well, so it’s a new year and it’s going to depend on who steps up and who makes what weight.”

NUA will be limited to duals and triangulars only this year, with COVID-19 restrictions taking away tournaments this season in Minnesota.

Briggs said that despite tournaments being good for conditioning, every school is dealing with this same issue.

“Those tournaments are valuable for conditioning the body to be able to wrestle all day long and conditioning the body to win big matches — championship matches,” Briggs said. “But every team’s going to be in the same boat, it’s not like some schools get to do tournaments and some don’t. So when we get to the end of the year, everyone has the same playing field.”

Fairmont/Martin County West, Marshall and Blue Earth Area are again expected to be the teams to beat in the conference and section this season.

“Our conference teams are our section teams,” Briggs said. “So we have a strong conference; therefore, we have a strong section. And until somebody knocks Fairmont or Marshall off, I expect them to be right up there. Every team in our conference I believe has a full squad, so that’s valuable. Blue Earth is returning from a third-place finish at state as well, so our conference is pretty legit.”

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