Several weeks ago the West Central Area/Ashby/Brandon-Evansville Knight wrestlers competed at a jumbo tournament called the Battle at the Big Bear. 40 schools went to war for two days in what at the time was the single largest tournament the Knights had competed in.
Enter the Rumble on the Red. This colossal event makes the Battle at the Big Bear pale in comparison. Thursday and Friday, December 28 and pitted 84 schools from six states squaring off in the Fargo-dome. To give a perception of the talent level at this venue most weight brackets were as studded with ranked wrestlers as not.
The tournament is split into two levels. An athlete can opt to the varsity or JV level of wrestling. Of course the goal is to win it all but having spoken with Head Coach of the Knights Brandon Gruchow this tournament was viewed as more of a building block to the next level than proving ones might. His staff and wrestlers were put to the test in every way possible....physically, mentally and emotionally. Through the thousands of matches wrestled the unit competed, learned and grew, as individuals and most importantly a team.
To survive to day two in a venue like this is a miracle in itself. To land on the medal stand is remarkable. Three Knight grapplers came home with hardware. On the varsity level Sr Kaden Spindler went 4-2 and took home 4th place. At the JV level Sophomore Kaleb Getz went 5-2 and placed 7th. Also at the JV level Sophomore Devin Stone wrestled his way to a 4-3 record placing 8th.
Coach Gruchow's comments about the 'Rumble',”We were given the opportunity to add The Rumble on the Red to our schedule with the new match count rule. I have heard many good things about the tournament in the past and thought that it would be worth a try. One of the things that I liked the best about it was that the JV and Varsity all got to compete at the same time. It also gave us a taste of what it's like to wrestle in a "Big Tournament" atmosphere. Many of our wrestlers have never had that opportunity. When you’re drawing wrestlers from 6 States: Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming you get to wrestle many teams that you have never wrestled. Plus the talent pool was huge so it tested even our most winning wrestlers on our team. We chose to wrestle only eight of our wrestlers in the varsity tournament and twenty-four of them in the JV tournament. Kaden Spindler had a great tournament. He wrestled smart and he wrestled from whistle to whistle, winning a couple of his matches in the last seconds. He was our only placer and finished in fourth. Jordan Lohse, Levi Larkin, and Mason Nibbe also wrestled very well and got a chance to wrestle on day two but all of them came up short of placing. All though we didn't have multiple guys on the award stand I think this was still a valuable tournament to attend, it allowed our wrestlers to see what is really out there. There were some extremely talented athletes that we got the opportunity to wrestle...the goal was to wrestle at that high level to help us out at the end of the season. I truly believe by competing in this tournament our wrestlers will be more prepared come sections and state.”
Milestones from the week include: Levi Larkin earning his 50th career pin and his 125th career victory.
Wrestling for the Knights will commence Thursday, January 4 in Barrett as WCA/A/B-E hosts the inter-conference and section rival Eagles from New York Mills. Action will begin at 7:30 pm.