For those of you that failed to make it out to a wrestling dual this season, you botched witnessing school history. This year’s wrestling squad finished with a record of 8-4, the best finish in school history since 1960. That stat alone is impressive, but the fact that it was accomplished with the majority of the team being underclassmen adds to the incredible season.
All that remains this season is the regional tournament and the Division II National Championship tournament. In order to qualify for the national tournament, an individual must place in the top 4 in the regional tournament. Each of the 14 teams in the region qualifies. Mines will be bringing 10 individuals, one athlete for each weight class.
“We are feeling really good. We are a really young team with only one senior on the team right now [Paul Wilson, 197lbs] and he’s ranked 6th in the nation at his weight. He is a two-time defending national champion, with three appearances in the title dual. So we feel very confident in that,” said Coach Tyson Reiner about how the team feels going into the tournament.
“There are a handful of other weights where we feel confident we can qualify for the national tournament. At 165 we have a returning All-American [John Crowley]. He’s one that always is right there and has the potential to qualify for nationals. Up and down the lineup we have a handful of other kids that if things go right and they wrestle to their potential, we know that they can qualify as well,” said Coach Reiner.
When Coach Reiner was asked what the best possible outcome that the coaching staff sees this weekend could be, he responded with the obvious answer of, “We believe everyone can qualify.”
Rephrasing the question to what he thinks the most likely outcome will be, he replied by saying, “The most likely and the best outcome is having 3-4 men qualify if I’m being realistic. We have a handful of kids with the ability to qualify, but we have a very tough region. There are 14 teams in this region, and I believe that half of them might be ranked in the top 20.”
There are many possible outcomes that this weekend’s tough competition could lead to, the Mines team has high hopes.
“One of the big things to remember is that, just like all sports, on any given day anyone can defeat anyone. You could have the tournament of a lifetime, and maybe a kid that has no business in being in the National Tournament qualifies. It happens every year. But we are feeling pretty good about it,” said Coach Reiner.
Coach Reiner then replied to the question of what he believes the team’s mindset is as they are going into the tournament.
“Coming off a couple big wins here at home, they should be feeling very confident. A lot of guys up and down the lineup are wrestling the best they have all year, and if we are going to peak, this is the right time to do it. And that is where we are at right now,” stated Coach Reiner.
Obviously with a young team, there is a lot of room for improvement.
“Just coming together as a team. As soon as Austin [Head Coach] took over, that was one thing he really stressed: that family atmosphere. He wanted them to come together as a team, and a family. Here at Mines we’ve always had good individuals, but just as a team, we’ve always lacked that team unity. It takes all 10 guys to win a dual meet, but only takes one guy to be an All-American,” said Coach Reiner.
Not looking past the regional tournament, there are different sights for next season to look forward to.
“No one cares what you did the year before. We can enjoy it over the summer time, but once the next season rolls around, that record goes out the window. Not saying it doesn’t mean anything, but you have to continue to improve moving forward,” replied Coach Reiner.
There is a lot of excitement surrounding this year’s wrestling team as the season comes to a close. Again, they finished with the best record since 1960 with a very young squad. Look for them to not only continue their success going into the regional and national tournament, but look for them to be a powerhouse in the seasons to come. The coaches are excited about the team they have this year and what they have accomplished.