The Royalton-Upsala coaching staff doesn’t preach about seeing it to believe it. Instead, it’s seeing it to be it.
The Royals definitely saw it, and then some, at the 69-team Rumble on the Red tournament in Fargo, N.D., Dec. 27- 28, with brackets loaded with extreme quantity and quality.
“We put this ‘meatgrinder’ into our schedule last year to show our developing wrestlers what the next level looks like,” Royalton-Upsala head coach Kevin Presler said. “Our coaching staff feels ‘you have to see it before you can be it.’”
At the front of the pack for Royalton-Upsala were senior Mitch Lange and sophomore Brad Kroll, who each advanced to the second day of the tournament.
Lange won four matches in the tournament as he secured fourth place at 170 pounds, while Kroll finished in the top 12 at 160, a match away from placing.
“Mitch wrestled very well at the Rumble,” Presler said. “The 170-pound weight class was filled with wrestlers ranked very high in their state, including Mark Hall of Apple Valley, who is one of the top-rated wrestlers in the nation.”
Lange cruised through his first three matches on the opening day of the tournament, advancing with a 19-3 technical fall, a 7-3 decision over the No. 5 wrestler in Class AA and a pin in the quarterfinals.
That led Lange into the semifinals against Hall, a three-time state champion and ranked No. 3 in the nation.
Lange slowed up the sophomore phenom early on, before Hall pulled away for a 17-7 win.
Lange came back to win 5-2 in the consolation semifinals, before Class AAA’s second-ranked Andover senior Corey Parsons used a late takedown to edge Lange 3-2 in the third-place bout.
“Mitch was coming off a nasty flu that he picked up over the Christmas holiday and was just getting back to 100 percent as we entered this grueling tournament,” Presler said. “That is not to take anything away from the two wrestlers that defeated Mitch. Mr. Hall is an amazing wrestler that has dedicated himself to being the very best. He wrestles 12 months a year and it shows.
“We have seen Mitch beaten a few times over the past few years but never by that margin,” he said. “He really seemed like a class act. Coach (Rick) Beam commented to me that he gained a lot of respect for him during the match.”
Kroll opened his tournament with an exciting 11-9 triumph over Class AAA’s eighth-ranked Anoka senior Sam Begin, before being bumped into the wrestlebacks by Class AAA’s third-ranked Cambride-Isanti senior Cody Skog.
Kroll bounced back with a fall over Windom/Mountain Lake senior Andrew Larson and a 3-1 decision over Coon Rapids junior Michael Bothwell, before South Border, N.D., junior Brayden Kuntz topped him in the sixth round of the consolation bracket.
“Brad has turned a corner over these past few weeks and the sky is the limit for our talented sophomore,” Presler said. “He is still wrestling up a weight class as well, and the size difference was noticeable as he worked his way through this tourney.”
Junior Brady Moulzolf, sophomore Kyle Lange and seventh-grader Jackson Held each won a match during the tournament as well.
Royalton-Upsala finished in 43rd place overall as a team.