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MCM moves up the Class B wrestling ladder

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McCook Central/Montrose's Mason Pulse (top) ties up Custer's Zayne Severyn during the 152-pound quarterfinals at the Mid Dakota Monster on Jan. 10 in Presho. (Nick Sabato / Republic)

SALEM -- When the first incarnation of the McCook Central/Montrose co-op went to its first state tournament in 2009, wrestling was an afterthought for both schools. Fast forward a decade and MCM is aiming for a spot on the Class B podium.

The Fighting Cougars scored six points and placed 39th in that first tournament, recording two to-20 finishes in the first seven years. They have slowly built the program, however, finishing 11th or better in three of the last four years.

Now, an 8-1 start has MCM ranked fifth in the Class B dual standings, while finishing no lower than third in five invitationals. And the Fighting Cougars have done so with depth in nearly every weight class in the lineup, built from a strong youth program developed during the last 10 years.

“We’ve increased our coaching staff and we’ve had strong youth numbers,” MCM head coach Scott Andal said. “I’ve been doing this for 27 years and it’s a cycle. We’ve had good youth numbers for the last 10 years, so it’s paying off now.”

In the latest Dakota Grappler rankings released Monday, MCM had nine wrestlers ranked in the top-12 in their respective weight classes. Five of those wrestlers placed at the state tournament last year, highlighted by Jackson Remmers and Blake Gessner, who were among six wrestlers in the state to attain 50 wins last season.

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Remmers, an eighth-grader, is ranked second at 126 pounds after taking sixth at 106 last season, while Gessner is ranked third at 170 after taking fourth at 160. Both join Colin Reif (285), Cade Entwisle (195) and Jake Cheeseman (160) in having topped 20 wins already this season.

Meanwhile, Jacobi Krouse, Carter Randall and Weston Remmers are within three wins of reaching 20 and four more Fighting Cougars have double-digit wins.

“We put 14 kids out there and we feel like they can all scrap,” Andal said. “As we coaches, we know there’s always one or two spots where you’re weaker, but I don’t feel like our weaker kids are that bad -- they’re scrappers. If they cannot win, they’re going to save us two points.”

MCM put five wrestlers in the finals at last week’s Mid Dakota Monster, with two champions and two more falling to defending state champions. It was part of a grueling schedule that won’t get any easier in the coming weeks, but it serves as preparation for the postseason.

The Fighting Cougars partake in a quadrangular against teams with like-minded aspirations in Kimball/White Lake/Platte-Geddes, Wagner and Faulkton Area on Tuesday in White Lake, along with a triangular against Mount Vernon/Plankinton/Corsica-Stickney and Beresford/Alcester-Hudson on Jan. 28.

Meanwhile, there are three more invitationals mixed in before hosting a six-way dual featuring Canton -- winners of three of the last four Class B titles -- to wrap up the regular season on Feb. 14.

“Kids come out at the end of the season with five or six losses, but we feel our schedule prepares us for the end of the year,” Andal said. “That’s the most important thing for us -- that we peak at the end of the year. All these tough matches pay off when it comes to crunch time and we’ve been there.”

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Related Topics: WRESTLING
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