Four Tigers vying for state titlesHOWARD — Four Howard High School wrestlers are ranked in the top three in the state wrestling polls at their respective weight classes, making them the backbone of the team, according to Howard coach Tyler Dahl.
By: Aaron Saunders, The Daily Republic
HOWARD — Four Howard High School wrestlers are ranked in the top three in the state wrestling polls at their respective weight classes, making them the backbone of the team, according to Howard coach Tyler Dahl.
Bailey Neises (113), Luke Loudenberg (120), Evan Donahue (138) and James Jungwirth (170) headline a talent-laden Tiger wrestling squad that will have eight wrestlers competing at the Class B state wrestling tournament, which begins at 10 a.m. Friday at the Barnett Center in Aberdeen.
As a team, the Tigers finished second behind Canton at the Region 2B wrestling tournament Saturday in Salem.
“We always talk about not ever giving up, sticking together as a team and pulling on the same rope to make each other better,” Dahl said. “We’re a small school but we live for our wrestling, and we have great parents that feel like wrestling and athletics are important.”
The second-year head coach described his team as scrappy, athletic, hard-nosed, unorthodox and physical — all adjectives that describe the makeup of a strong wrestling program.
No team would be complete without its cast of leaders, and that’s where Jungwirth, Loudenberg, Neises and Donahue come into play. Loudenberg, a sophomore, is currently 45-1 and ranked first in the state at his weight class.
Loudenberg’s only loss this season came against Tri-Valley’s Ryan Schuman, who is ranked first in the state at 126.
“It’s kind of motivation when everyone wants to beat you, and you have to keep them wanting to beat you,” Loudenberg said on being ranked first in the state. “It’s kind of an honor being that guy, but at the same time you have to watch out and make sure you don’t overlook everybody.”
Last year, Loudenberg won the Class B state title at 106 pounds and was runner-up at 103 pounds the year before. He is the only member of the team who has a state title. Dahl described him as an athletically gifted wrestler with great speed and power.
Neises, a sophomore, is 31-3 this season and described by his coach as a very technically sound wrestler, blending talent with strategy to defeat his opponents. The 113-pounder finished second at the state tournament last year at the same weight class.
The two older members of the quartet are seniors Donahue and Jungwirth.
Donahue has never won a state title but has been to the state tournament every year since he was an eighth-grader. Dahl described the senior as hard-nosed and a great competitor.
As sophomore in 2011, Donahue came closest to capturing the state title when he finished second to Garretson’s Tanner Donelan, losing by technical fall in the 135-pound championship.
Jungwirth, who is currently ranked second at 170 pounds, is heading to the state for the third time. The senior defeated Flandreau’s Kyle Scofield to claim the 2B region title at 170 Saturday. He finished seventh at the Class B tournament last season. Dahl described him as unorthodox and funky but a guy who finds a way to win.
“All year, it was our goal to place top 10 at state,” Jungwirth said. “We have been working pretty hard in practice, and we have a bunch of young kids stepping up for us and winning matches.”
Joining the quartet at the state tournament are Cole Hodges (126), Adonis Ruml (132), Kaleb Haas (160) and Nick Pardy (182).
“I think we are performing at our peak right now, and that’s where you want to be performing at this time of the season,” Dahl said.