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Rugby matmen off to strong start

By Staff | Dec 19, 2008

Rugby wrestling coach Ken Higbee wants to keep the train moving.

That train Higbee refers to is one of momentum the Panthers have created during the first three weeks of the season.

–Nine wrestlers have at least one victory in five duals. Zach Odden leads the squad with five wins. Garrett Thompson, Wyatt Thompson, Justin Fjellanger and Brooks McClintock have four wins.

–The squad placed an impressive fifth at the season-opening tournament in Napoleon which featured several good teams. And seven wrestlers placed in their respective weight divisions.

“I think we’re right on schedule,” Higbee said. “I’ve seen some good signs of us wrestling aggressively and we’ve showed our toughness.

Evidence of that was in the recent dual victory over Stanley where six Rugby wrestlers pinned their opponents. Although the team has just a 2-3 record in its five duals, two of those losses came against perennial powers Napoleon and Velva-Garrison-Max.

Higbee has been encouraged by the leadership shown by the seniors and work ethic of this crew. The Panthers certainly want to build on last season’s accomplishments.

The squad’s final action before the holiday break is today, Dec. 20 at a tournament in Linton. The squad finished 13th there last season and expectations are for a better outcome. Higbee said the tournament will feature a few quality teams the Panthers haven’t seen yet, including Hettinger and Carrington. “
We want to go in there and continue to wrestle well,” he said.

Break needed

The holiday break comes at an ideal time as a few wrestlers are nursing some injuries, including Zach Berube, who has been bothered by a sore shoulder, keeping him off the mat.

The squad will get a week off before returning to practice Dec. 29.

“The break is nice, but we don’t want to take any steps back when we get back on the mat,” Higbee said.

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