By PATRICK SLACK
The Little Falls wrestling team had three individuals qualify for last year’s state tournament.
The team it beat in last year’s Section 8AAA final had three place in the top four, with two state champions returning.
However, the Flyers put together a 23-10 record and sixth-place finish in the state on the strength of a balanced lineup a year ago, and hope to do the same this winter.
Little Falls will have to do so, however, without departed graduates Dillon Kifer and Frank Wilczek, who tied for the school record in career pins with 117, with Kifer also accumulating 196 career wins.
Also graduating from last year’s team were Adam Grams, Luke Lodermeier and Brent Berger.
“We did lose some very good seniors,” Hendrickson said. “This year, we hope to defend our 8AAA title. Brainerd and Moorhead look to be teams to watch out for.”
“In the Granite Ridge, we should be in the upper middle again,” he said. “Foley, Milaca and Mora will be very solid teams.”
Senior Connor Scherping leads the way for the Flyers as the lone returning state qualifier from last season.
Also recording 20 or more wins from a year ago were senior Jordan Petrone, junior Trysten Ross, sophomore Axel Lange and freshman Justin Jenks, while senior Conor Swanson went 17-3 despite missing most of the season with an injury.
Other returning varsity letter winners looking to contribute are seniors David Copa, Joe Reis, Keith Yorek, Tyler Webb and Peter Strom, juniors Tyler Gastecki, Levi Hoffman, Derek McMahan, Dan Mushel, Austin Olson, Seth Kaiser, Cole Barton and Mike Jarvis, sophomores Logan Kapphahn, Devon Garlock, Nate Infinger, Shane Lange, Devon Nelson and Delton Schultz and eighth-grader Josh Beack.
Little Falls opens the season at the Monticello tournament, Dec. 1.
The Flyers’ first home dual is against Milaca, Dec. 20.