Conditioned to compete

Published 7:01 am Wednesday, January 13, 2021

GMLOS wrestlers are ready to begin their season after a long wait


GRAND MEADOW -— The Grand Meadow/LeRoy-Ostrander/Southland wrestling team had dreams of this being one of their best seasons yet.

That may very well be, but it most certainly will be one of the strangest and most unpredictable seasons in program history. The Bulldogs sent eight wrestlers to the state meet and they qualified for their first team state meet in 15 years in 2020, but this year there are no guarantees as the season begins without a scheduled postseason.

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GMLOS senior captain Christian Jacobsen is hoping the Bulldogs get their chance against the best this year.

GMLOS head wrestling coach Randy Smith instructs his team in Grand Meadow Thursday. Rocky Hulne/

“We lose some conditioning without individual tournaments, but with the guys we’re wrestling now, we’ll get some good matches in. We’re definitely looking to make another state run if we get that opportunity,” Jacobsen said. “Having a season means a lot. Wrestling really makes school for me. Without wrestling, school would not be going well for me.”

The Minnesota State High School League is not allowing teams to compete in individual tournaments during the regular season, but GMLOS has scheduled 16 triangulars. The schedule will give the Bulldogs 32 matches, with 30 of those matches coming against unique opponents.

GMLOS head coach Randy Smith is preparing for the season with hopes that there is a postseason for his team, which includes eight seniors.

“In an individual tournament setting, every kid you wrestle gets a little bit tougher throughout the tournament. In a team triangular, you never know if the first kid will be the best or if you’ll get a real good match at all. It’s going to vary,” Smith said. “We’ve got a lot of great individuals and we’re uncertain if we’re going to get an individual state tournament at all. We’re focusing on the team right now. We’re helping each other, pushing each other and filling out the weight classes as needed. If we don’t get an individual tournament, there’s going to be a lot of broken hearts, but if we can at least get a team tournament at the end, that will give us something to look forward to.”

GMLOS captain Noah Sayles has been working out at home to prepare for the season, and he’s well aware that things can change in an instant after losing his chance to play with Southland in the Section 1 nine-man football tournament due to COVID-19.

“We have the same attitude going into every season,” Sayles said. “This year is a little different, but we’re still going to work hard like we always do, no matter what happens. We’re not sure if there will be a state tournament, but if there is we’ll be ready for it. With all of the COVID stuff going on, we’re lucky to even have a season.”

GMLOS senior captain Daniel Smith said it’s tough to practice in a mask, but he’s excited that wrestlers will not have to wear masks while competing.

“We’ve just got to get back in shape. That’s the biggest part. Taking some time off did some damage,” Daniel said. “The season is going to be fun and it’ll be interesting.”

GMLOS is scheduled to compete at NRHEG at 5 p.m. on Jan. 14.

Wrestling with Caution

To respect COVID-19 protocols, the Bulldogs are having the same two wrestlers partner up in every practice and the team practices in two separate groups.

All teams are having weigh-ins done at each participating school before traveling matches, not at the location of the match. There is no showering at the school in a road or home meet.

GM wrestlers and Southland wrestlers will each travel in separate vehicles to matches.