The Fairmont/Martin County West Red Bulls wrestling team will rely on its youth movement if it hopes to improve upon last season's 10-10 showing.
Class AA, No. 1-ranked 113-pounder Trevor Schultz and No. 4-ranked senior heavyweight Colton Hines will lead the charge for the second-year combination. Schultz is coming off a fourth-place finish at last year's state meet in the 106-pound weight class with an overall record of 43-4.
Hines finished last year with a 12-6 record, having missed a majority of the season due to injury and came up just short of reaching the state tournament.
WEIGHING IN — Members of the Fairmont/Martin County West Red Bulls wrestling team opening the season by participating in today’s Maher Invitational in Blue Earth include, front row (l-r): Phillip Bowie, Aaron Burmeister, Collin Steuber, Chris Ettesvold, Ramon Bowie, Nick Segar, Cody Fischer, Nathan Willett, Tanner Klug and Parker Anderson. Middle: Dayton Nielsen, Trenton Rossow, Elijah Gronewold, Remington Kuehl, Luis Figueroa, Harley Luhmann, Levi Bulfer, Joe Weber, Alex Alvarado, Trevor Schultz and Conner Malo. Back: Colton Hines, Nathan Gillis, Brock Burmeister, Tanner Lange, Tyler Allen, Alex Pitcher, Kory Brown, Mark Washa, Kolin Kelly, Nathan Larson and Carver Moore. Photo by Leanna Becker
"Our team this year is similar to last year's team. We are young. Maybe we'll take our lumps, but they will also be able to come out and surprise some people I think," said Red Bulls head coach Jake Tietje.
The two senior Red Bulls - Schultz and Hines - bookend a young lineup that will be led off by seventh-grader Collin Steuber and freshman Chris Ettesvold, who will split time at 106. Freshman Trenton Rossow will fill the 120-pound position, while eighth-grader Remington Kuehl will wrestle at 126.
"Steuber and Rossow are young up-and-comers who I expect to fill in and do some big things for us," said Tietje. "Kuehl wrestled varsity for us last year, but an injury shortened his season for us."
The middle of the Red Bull lineup has more experience which should help garner some more wins. Sophomore Elijah Gronewold (132), junior Harley Luhmann (138), sophomore Tanner Lange (145) and junior Joe Weber (152) provide some tournament experience.
"Tanner is a returning varsity wrestler and with a handful of wins last year, but this year we are looking for him to be a 20-match winner this season.
Gronewold is coming off a 17-21 season and a fourth-place finish at 126 at the Section 3AA Meet last year.
"Gronewold was a section place-winner for us last year. We are expecting big things from him and hope that he can take his wrestling to the next level this season," said Tietje. "And Harley has improved tremendously also this offseason, I'm excited to see the hard work pay off."
Sophomores Brock Burmeister and Phillip Bowie will trade time at 160, while Nathan Gillis will look to contend at 182.
Kory Brown and eighth-grader Luis Figueroa will battle at 195 and 225, respectively.
"Kory is a returning wrestler for us who has put a ton of time in during the offseason. And Luis is young, but as strong as an ox. You don't see that too often where an eighth-grader can compete at a higher weight and be physical, but he has that ability," said Tietje.
Despite the team's youth, Tietje is hopeful that with good leadership and strong coaching, it can finish with a solid season and maybe surprise some people along the way.
"We've had a consistent coaching staff and with nine state appearances among them with eight medals. That, along with our youth program, has helped to develop a lot of young wrestlers that should help the younger ones," said Tietje. "Youth can sometimes be a great thing, where they can come out and surprise opponents, but then at other times, it can be a negative."
The Red Bulls are hoping that this season is nothing but positive.
Fairmont/Martin County West gets its first matches of the season at 10 a.m. today at the Maher Invitational in Blue Earth.