Wrestling team may miss chance to take home first at state

From+left+to+right%3A+Javon+Tashuk%2C+Hunter+Lyden%2C+Matt+Houge%2C+Kieler+Carlson%2C+and+Owen+Bouthilet.+The+team+is+at+the+state+wrestling+state+tournament+last+February+against+Shakopee.

Creative Commons photo by Matt Onken

From left to right: Javon Tashuk, Hunter Lyden, Matt Houge, Kieler Carlson, and Owen Bouthilet. The team is at the state wrestling state tournament last February against Shakopee.

Ranked number one in the state for the first time in history, the wrestling team may not get the opportunity to compete for this groundbreaking title. Due to Governor Waltz’s decision to pause all winter sports because of COVID-19, the Minnesota State Wrestling Tournament, hosted at the Xcel Energy Center in February, may not happen. Seniors and other wrestlers on the team may lose their chance to take home first place this year.

Waltz’s decision may take a toll on the seniors this year. Many of the seniors on the wrestling team may lose their last opportunity to compete for their high school.

”It feels very weird having this be my last year and not competing in an actual season. I’ve been trying to find tournaments and practices to train at, but there’s only so much available right now because of the virus,” senior Matt Houge said.

The Guillotine, a ranking website for amateur wrestling, has Stillwater High school ranked number one this year in Minnesota. Regardless of Waltz’s decision, the team was still in very high spirits after finding out their state ranking, but still disappointed they may not be able to compete.

I felt like we worked hard to get to this point, and it was super exciting to see our school at the top of those rankings. The whole team is bummed that we may not get to compete at the tournament.”

— Hunter Lyden

 “I felt like we worked hard to get to this point, and it was super exciting to see our school at the top of those rankings. The whole team is bummed that we may not get to compete at the tournament,” junior Hunter Lyden said.

Last February, the wrestling team competed against Shakopee in the state finals to take home first place. They lost with a score of 34-21, placing second altogether at the tournament.

“It was frustrating and exciting taking second place last year. We worked hard to get to that spot, but we couldn’t get ourselves to win it. It has given or was supposed to give our team a drive to work harder this year, but now it’s hard to determine if we’ll even have a season at this point,” Houge said. 

Tournaments across the country that are not aligned with the Minnesota State High School League are still running. They have very many health restrictions and requirements that can hopefully be used if there is a state tournament this year.

“What they have done at other tournaments is require masks for all the people coming into the arena. The only time you aren’t required to wear it is when you’re warming up for your match or wrestling on the mat. They have also been checking everyone’s temperatures beforehand and they only allow for so many people to watch,” Houge said.

Many of the boys are dealing with this absence from wrestling by keeping their eyes on the prize and training in safe ways. A few of the team members refuse to believe that they won’t get a season.

 “I feel like we are giving up on hope. I think we should keep our heads up and keep practicing and working hard as if there will be a tournament this season. We are ready to bring this state title home,” Lyden said.