The St. Ansgar wrestling team was a young squad this season. Four seniors led the way for the Saints. The seniors and leaders on this year’s team were Dayton Smith, Gabe Walk, Devan Hackenmiller and Kraig Hemann.
“These guys have done a great job for us throughout their wrestling careers” Said Head Coach Barry Kittleson. “We wish them nothing but the best in the future.
Two of those seniors made it all the way to the district tournament this season. Dayton Smith (36-8 record this season) and Devan Hackenmiller (23-24 record) were the only Saints to make it to the district tournament. They gave it their best shot, but dealt with some injuries and some tough opponents and were eliminated from a chance to wrestle at the state tournament in Des Moines.
Every member of the team received a letter this season, including the team managers Miricle Corbo and Megan Adams. They received their letters on Tuesday night in the Middle School commons for their annual potluck banquet. After watching their weight all season long, the wrestlers indulged on various items before Barry talked a little about the season and some other things.
“We battled some injuries all year,” said Kittleson. “It started out bad and just got worse as the year went on. We were down to 12 healthy guys at the end of the season. It made it pretty tough to be competitive against some of the competition that we face but we did our best.”
Some of the highlight’s this season for St. Ansgar included the MFL Marmac tournament. It was the first year that St. Ansgar went to the tournament and it did the team some good said Kittleson. It will be a tournament that the Saints hope to be at again next year.
St. Ansgar’s most successful tournament this year was the Lake Mills Invitational. The Saints had 6 wrestlers place at the tournament, including a champion in Dayton Smith.
Even though St. Ansgar had some young wrestler’s this season, that didn’t stop them from improving as the year went on.
“By the end of the year, all of the kids really improved. We have a good group of young guys coming back next year so that really will be good for us.”
Team captains for next season were announced at the end of season banquet on Tuesday night. Captains for next year’s team will be Derek Peterson and Sam Juenger.
A number of Saints also made the Honor Roll this season and were announced at the banquet. Noah Michaels, Derek Peterson, Sam Juenger, Brecken Buringrud, Garrett Koster, Dayton Smith, Devan Hackenmiller, Kraig Hemann, and managers Megan Adams and Miricle Corbo all thrived in the classroom.
“Doing good things in the classroom is just as important as wrestling,” said Kittleson. “You have to keep up your grades to keep wrestling.”
A Perfect Attendance award was given out at the end of season banquet by Coach Kittleson. Derek Peterson received a gold medal for not missing any practices or meets. Dayton Smith, Kraig Hemann, Preston Isler and Noah Michaels all missed just one day.
“Being able to make it to everything over the course of the season can be hard to do, especially during flu season,” said Kittleson. Ethan Mayer was perfect for 3 years for us in attendance. So now you have to go the full four years Derek.”
There is a chance for wrestler’s to get better before next season. Loras College is putting on a camp during the summer and it is the perfect chance for the kids to improve, according to Kittleson.
“You can gain a whole season of experience by going to freestyle tournaments when you can during the offseason,” said Kittleson.