Low numbers hurt Warriors' chances
Because of low numbers, Kris Koll didn't expect the Menahga-Sebeka wrestling team to have much success in dual meets this season. Having to forfeit matches in every meet led to a 3-15 record. However, the first-year head coach of the Warriors was...
Because of low numbers, Kris Koll didn't expect the Menahga-Sebeka wrestling team to have much success in dual meets this season.
Having to forfeit matches in every meet led to a 3-15 record. However, the first-year head coach of the Warriors was satisfied with his team's effort all season.
"I was pleased with my first year as head coach, but as any coach I felt that we could have done better," said Koll. "With our short numbers this year it was difficult to compete when we had to forfeit so many weights. I do feel that when the section tournament came around we were wrestling our best that we did all season."
The Warriors defeated Hawley (50-28), Blackduck/Cass Lake-Bena (57-18) and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley/Nevis (57-33) for their three wins. Menahga-Sebeka also finished seventh at the eight-team Park Region Conference tournament with 101.50 points (New York Mills won the conference title with 222.50 points). The Warriors entered the Section 7A tournament as the No. 11 seed and held a 25-24 lead before No. 6-seeded Breckenridge won the final five matches for a 48-25 victory.
"We wrestled right with Breckenridge," said Koll. "I was happy with the effort we put out in our final match."
While the Warriors didn't have much success as a team, several individuals had outstanding seasons.
Leading that group were the two state qualifiers: senior Kirby Anderson and sophomore Tyler Ahlf.
Anderson qualified for his third consecutive state Class A tournament by winning his third section title. Anderson, who placed third at 103 pounds as a sophomore and third at 112 pounds as a junior, finished fourth at 119 pounds in his final state appearance. Anderson also won his third straight conference title en route to a 39-4 record. Anderson will graduate with a 111-16 overall record.
Ahlf, who missed all of last season with an injury, qualified for his first state tournament by placing second at 152 at the section meet. Ahlf placed third at the conference meet and ended the season with a 29-10 overall record.
Also posting at least 10 victories this season were seniors Adam Johnson, Lucas Tomperi and Travis Ahlf; junior Larry Martini; sophomore Reid Anderson; and freshman Josh Meech.
Travis Ahlf just missed qualifying for his third straight state meet. Ahlf, who was the section runner-up as a sophomore and junior, placed fourth at 135 pounds at this year's section meet. Ahlf was the conference runner-up at 135 and compiled a 31-8 record to end his high school career with a 134-57 overall mark.
Johnson challenged for a state berth before placing third at 160 pounds at the section meet. Johnson, who placed fifth at the conference meet, capped off his senior season with a 26-11 record.
Tomperi wrestled at 171 and 189 this season and went 15-20.
Martini also just missed a trip to state by placing third at 145 pounds at the section meet. The conference runner-up at that weight had a 27-10 record this season.
Anderson placed fourth at the conference meet at 140 and had a 13-22 overall record this season.
Meech wrestled at 125, 130 and 135 and finished the season with a 10-19 record.
Also seeing plenty of varsity action this season were sophomore Tom Tomperi; freshmen Ben Meech, Zack Nevela and Jonathan Johnson; eighth-grader Brandon Schoeberl; and seventh-grader Tyler Meech.
Tom Tomperi went 7-19 at 112 and 119 pounds and placed sixth at 112 pounds at the conference tournament. Ben Meech compiled a 5-28 record at 103 pounds; Nevela went 3-20 at 189 and 215; Johnson had an 0-4 record at 189; Schoeberl went 4-22 at heavyweight; and Tyler Meech had an 0-3 record at 125.
The Warriors graduate four key wrestlers, but Koll sees a promising future for his program.
"The four graduating seniors have meant a lot to me. They were seventh graders my first year of coaching so they have come through the program with me. As a coach I couldn't ask for four better guys. They always gave everything they had and they were very coachable," said Koll. "I will always remember those guys as I build my program at Menahga-Sebeka. I plan to work very hard to build a strong program. It is difficult to replace four quality seniors, so next year will be a building year. I have some very talented kids returning next season. We will be very young, so they will need to work very hard in the off-season. Our numbers will be short again next year, but our elementary programs are looking good with a lot of numbers coming up. The years ahead look bright for the Warriors."