Indianapolis prepares Marauders for National Duals

Expectations have continued to rise for the University of Mary’s senior men’s wrestling team.

The Marauders continued to perform well at the 43rd Midwest Classic in Indianapolis in early December, finishing seventh as a team in a deep field.

“I was happy with our performance,” said Adam Aho, Marauders head coach. “Everyone entered for the tournament has at least two wins, which is a first for us. It’s a tough tournament.”

Max Bruss provided the big highlight.

Defeating each in his own way, Bruss captured the 174-pound title with a hard-fought 4-2 win over McKendree University’s Zeke Waltz.

“Max was one of our most enduring wrestlers,” said Aho. “He’s giving everything he’s got and he’s been able to make some technical adjustments, improve his decision-making and it’s been fun to see him break through and take that title because he’s been damn close before.

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“He kept his composure well. It’s good to see that he’s grown in his emotional maturity, not to be discouraged. He was knocked down in both games but kept working towards the next point. “

Reece Barnhardt was the Marauders’ other placer in Indy, finishing second at 133 pounds. The St. Mary’s product won the championship game against Dylan Lucas of Central Oklahoma, 9-2.

“Reece wrestled brilliantly,” said Aho. “Reece has suffered some casualties this year because of little things. People are looking for him to try and find some gaps in his armor. He’s made some minor adjustments that should help him for the rest of the year.

“He lost to a great wrestler in the finals but I think that’s a match we can turn around at the national duals or the national tournament if we see him there. It’s not like Reece doesn’t have a chance to beat him, so we’re already working with Reece to make adjustments if he meets a guy with a similar style in the future.”

There were other solid performances at Indianapolis, Aho said.

“Anthony Velazquez (157lbs) lost his first match which was a back and forth match against a solid ranked wrestler. He faced it again on the back of the bracket and flipped it over and won against the same wrestler,” the head coach said. “Anthony has the ability to score a lot of points but it was fun to see how tough he was. He nearly won his blood match, which was another back-and-forth match.

“Laken Boese (141) had a good weekend, he was a bit overwhelmed in his blood round game, he got knocked down a few times in the third period to end it. Wyatt Lidberg at 184 wrestled well. He’s a guy we know that he can beat some all-American guys, and he’s about to beat some of those guys.

One lineup Aho has been working on to solidify with internal competition is heavyweight.

Redshirt freshman Luke “Tweety” Tweeton and redshirt junior Levi Malcolm have been battling to secure the spot. Aho appears to have made his decision after Tweeton wrestled to a 2-2 record in Indianapolis.

“Levi is a different breed of wrestler and right now we feel like Tweeton is giving us the best chance of winning for the team,” Aho said. “As a coach, it’s a difficult decision because we have to make choices that are best for the program. If I feel like a guy gives us a better chance of scoring points for the team, I have to go with them.

“Luke fought well, even in the matches he lost. What I was happy about was that Luke struggled through some adversity but continued to compete.”

Of the 15 losses the Marauders suffered, nine were three points or less.

“We didn’t lose out in a lot of games,” said Aho. “As with Lidberg, there were some technical things that we could fix. If the hustle and the effort is there, the mentality is there, we can make corrections.

“If we think we can’t win those games or take part in those games, I can show you the best techniques in the world, but it won’t help you to use them. The guys left everything on the mat, there was nothing left in the tank.”

Seventh place for the Marauders came in part because they were unable to wrestle anyone at 125 pounds due to a few minor injuries.

“Our 125-pounder (Jaden Verhagen) was tweaked in the duel we fought Minot,” said Aho. “We have another guy at 125 who might have wrestled in Indianapolis, but he wasn’t cleared to wrestle.

“Whether Jaden is healthy or not, we’re going to have someone at 125, but we expect Verhagen to be healthy in time for the National Duals.”

With another big Test awaiting us after the holidays, the Marauders should be back at full strength in time for the NWCA National Duals in Louisville, Kentucky.

“I’m excited (for the Duals) because our lineup is solid top to bottom at the moment, so it takes a very good team to beat us,” Aho said. “Our expectation is to go down and fight for a title. It will be tough to play against the best teams in the country but if we don’t go down with the mentality of wanting to win, we sell.” us short.”

The Marauders are likely to face a lot of familiar competition at this year’s tournament.

“Augustana is in the National Duals, Upper Iowa is in it, of course St. Cloud,” Aho said. “There’s a handful of teams from our conference there, our conference is like going to the national doubles tournament.

“In St. Cloud, Augustana, Northern State, Upper Iowa, Mankato, if those teams weren’t in our conference, we could get complacent against bad teams. I’d rather be battle hardened by the time we get to the National than earn a free pass there.”

After the national duels, the Marauders plunge straight back into the NSIC action.

“We’re taking a bus to the National Duals,” Aho said. “We decided to take a charter then take our time on the way back from the National Duals. We’ll be wrestling in Mankato and Minnesota State-Moorhead the week after the National Duals on the way back.”

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