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Honker wrestling program taking flight

Danny Mogren hasn’t been this happy in 14 years. That’s the last time he’s had this many wrestlers at the start of a season.

11/21/17 (Tue)

Danny Mogren hasn’t been this happy in 14 years. That’s the last time he’s had this many wrestlers at the start of a season.

Mogren, the head wrestling coach in Kemare, reported 26 kids have gone out and although many of them are younger, he’s confident he will have all but two weight classes filled when the team enters the Velva tournament Dec. 1.

He does, however, make that statement with cautious optimism because right now, everybody is healthy and anyone who is affiliated with the sport of wrestling darn well knows that can change quickly.

Maybe it’s the perfect storm for this team. After struggling with numbers in recent years, this year’s Honkers are quite different and the motivation resonates throughout the camp.

Not only is there more talent, but several transfers have joined the team from Wyoming and Colorado.

“The team looks good, but we might have some trouble spreading everybody out weight wise,” Mogren said. “Payton Witt, Skyler Ford and Michael Schlosser are all within 4 pounds of each other, so it will be interesting. They’ll all find where their niche is.”

The team only has three seniors, but two of them have been state qualifiers and the third is relatively new to the sport, but is entering his second year of competition.

Josh Baumann, a Burke County senior, qualified for state last year at 285 pounds. He’s down to 220 and insists he’s in a better slot.

“I’ve been doing lots of off-season work, I’m working on my moves and honestly, I’m overworking,” Baumann said. “We have a lot of good leaders on this team and we should go to state.”

Last year was Baumann’s first year in varsity wrestling so he’s relatively new at it as well.

He admitted that losing matches was tough since he worked so hard to win matches.

“It was a hard year and I had to make a decision on whether or not I should keep going,” Baumann said. “But I decided to go on and I really love the sport.”

France, the second of three seniors, comes to the Honkers from Platte Valley High School in Kersey, Colo., a community about the size of Kenmare near Greeley.

France has been wrestling since he was 11 years old and when he was a freshman, his team took third in the state. He has lettered in wrestling two years and comes into the Honker camp with a winning record.

He hopes to wrestle at 182 pounds this year. He’s up 20 pounds from last year that he attributes to a growth spurt.

Thus far, France likes what he sees with his new teammates.

“I’ve seen some good teams and we can be as good as anybody,” he said. “We can do a lot. We have a full team and we have what it takes.”

Schlosser, who qualified for state last year, wants to go back and he wants his whole team to go. He said the Honkers certainly have the potential for it.

Right now, Schlosser sits between 152 and 160 on the scale. He wants to wrestle at 152, which is up from 145 a year ago. However, his state qualification came at 152 pounds when he wrestled at that weight early in the season.

“This is a big team and now we have a better chance at duals,” he said. “I just hope we start well and end well.”

Lathan Stroklund went to state two years ago and believes this team has grown because a number of people have been willing to stick to the program.

Like Schlosser, he believes the team can win some duals, provided several people in the same weight class can find homes.

Stroklund wrestled at 126 last year and will start the season either at 138 or 145.

He said he was surprised to see so many kids out this year including France, who is a good wrestler.

“He’s showing some experience,” Stroklund said. “He has new techniques and brings a lot of life to the room.”

Mogren called France a really good addition to the team.

“My biggest fear was lack of leadership,” Mogren said. “But he’s taken the bull by the horns.”

Witt is the other grappler who qualified for the State Class B two years ago with Stroklund. Mogren said he wrestled at 138 last year and he wanted him to bulk up to 160 pounds. He actually weighed in at 142.

Mogren also noted Nicolia Topolski who had an up and down season a year ago at 113 and 120.

“I don’t know if it’s maturity or what, but he looks hungry,” Mogren said. “He’s working his butt off. That kid is always working.”

Ford, who wrestled two years ago, and missed last year, is back and Mogren said he hasn’t changed a bit. He called Ford a goals oriented wrestler who likes to work hard.

Ford’s younger brother Maverick also has wrestling experience in Wyoming as does Justin Childress, who joined the team this year.

The third senior is Brennit Jensen. Mogren said Jensen took some licks two years ago on the mat and expects those lessons learned are really going to help him this season.

Zane Miller is back as are numerous seventh graders. Mogren is happy about that because he said some of those seventh graders actually have more expierence than some of the varsity wrestlers and that should translate to wins on the mat.

Mogren said a lot of these kids went to several wrestling camps over the summer and have put in a lot of time and it shows in practice.

“Some of these guys are getting to an age where they want to wrestle on the collegiate level,” he said. “That takes a lot of work and I think they know that.”

According to Mogren, 2003 was the last year he had a full wrestling team to work with. Parent’s night is Dec. 14 with a dual against Minot Ryan. He said if the Honkers can hang with a team like Ryan, they will be good competition for anybody.

The team is going to have a busy season, but Mogren doesn’t mind. He’s not going to be forfeiting six matches and giving up 36 points each time the team wrestles.

“We have enough numbers to fill a team,” he said. “And right now, we’re healthy and I’m hoping we can stay that way.” ... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!