This wrestling season has been anything but normal. Less tournaments means more practice time, but the change in pace doesn’t mean a change in expectations for South Border.
“Whoever works the hardest right now at this time in the year is going to be highest on the podium,” Mustangs Head Coach Josh Hoffman said.
The extra work is being put in at the practice gym, where most class B teams have spent the last two weeks to allow an extra cushion in case any athletes were impacted by COVID-19.
“You don’t get as many looks, and it’s kind of tougher to know where you’re at with not as many matches,” senior Nathan Schauer said. “It’s kind of harder to make improvements, but you just have to make them in practice every day.”
The practice time hasn’t hurt senior Nathan Schauer. He’s18-0 entering the state tournament this week. So how much has he thought about a perfect season ending with a state title?
“A little bit, but I try to take every match one at a time, just focus on the next task,” Schauer said.
Schauer isn’t the only Mustang chasing a championship. Senior Jon Shockley came up short of his goal last year, and with a 22-4 record he’s using it as motivation this season.
“My whole high school career I’ve kind of been an underdog,” Shockley said. “I never was good in junior high, got a little bit better in ninth grade, never placed until last year and then I placed second in the state. So it just takes mental fortuity and guts I think.
Head coach Josh Hoffman says those seniors are setting the tone for underclassmen who will compete in both the individual and dual team tournaments this week, and the seniors don’t take that role lightly.
“I really want to give some of these younger kids who didn’t start out so good, they’re always the underdogs and they don’t win a lot of matches, the kind of idea that they’re not always going to be like that and if they work hard enough they can get up there and be up there with the greats,” Shockley said.”
The individual state tournament starts Thursday in Fargo. The Mustangs will be the three seed in the team dual tournament on Saturday.