Winkels continues his winning ways, starts to build lofty goals

Published 8:52 pm Monday, February 6, 2023

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The Austin wrestling team earned just one win against Rochester Mayo in a 74-6 dual loss in Ove Berven Gym Monday, but it came from their most improved wrestler who is doing big things at a much bigger level this season.

Austin sophomore Sam Winkels made the jump from 170-pounds last year to 220-pounds this season and he’s having the best start to a season in quite some time for a Packer. He is ranked No. 8 in state, has won four out of five individual tournaments and hasn’t lost a match since late December.

“My confidence this year has skyrocketed,” said Winkels, who is 35-3 overall. “In my mindset, I’m not that good of a wrestler yet, but I look at my record and I look at who I’m beating and think I can be that guy; I am that guy for the team.”

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Winkels, who is a few pounds under 220 showed the advantages and disadvantages of being new to the big weights when he pinned Mayo’s Dylan Peper on Monday. Winkels used his quickness to take a 4-2 lead on Peper, but Winkels was nearly pinned when the larger Peper was on top for a bit.

Finally, Winkels used his agility to score a pin in the third period after fighting off the heavier Peper.

“It’s a big jump. The hardest part is that they have weight on me,” Winkels said. “I can get to their legs and feet, but once they get on top, it’s hard to escape. They’ve got hip pressure and they’re a lot bigger than me. I’ve just got to work my rear end to get out.”

Winkels spent much of the offseason lifting and eating to bulk up, and he’s also had some intense training sessions with AHS assistant coach Blake Wolters, who wrestled at South Dakota State University.

Now Winkels has big goals like winning a section title and placing at the state wrestling meet – something no Packer has done since 2018 when Isaac Arjes took sixth.

“Sam put a lot of work in during the offseason,” Austin head coach Jacob Nelson said. “He was at every lift opportunity and every open mat opportunity. He put in a lot of gains and now he’s starting to have fun with it. He’s a great role model for the rest of the team. He’s wrestled for a long time and he’s always wrestled with a smaller guy style, but now he’s adapting to being a bigger guy. He can take those low singles and moves that you wouldn’t typically see from a 220-pounder.”

The rest of the Packers went winless on Monday, but they all put up a fight and made their opponents work for it.

“We’ve been preaching to the kids to leave it all on the mat with as much intensity as we can,” Nelson said. “We’re going to run into teams with more experience, but we’re going to try and get a learning opportunity, whether it’s winning or losing. We had some kids step away from the program for whatever reason, but the kids who are here are putting in the time and they’re really good at supporting each other.”


106: Austin lost by forfeit

113: Austin lost by forfeit

120: Adam Buenger (M) pinned Yian Bol (A) (1:04)

126: Max Erickson (M) 16-1 maj. dec. over William Mullenbach (A)

132: Kallen Burger(M) pinned Jeremiah Biel (A) (1:20)

138: Austin lost by forfeit  

145: Austin lost by forfeit

152: Kamdem Emste (M) pinned Antonio Garcia (A) (1:46)

160: Carter Funk (M) pinned Ryan Clark (A) (4:54)

170: Logan Burger (M) 7-3 dece. over Sam Oehlfke (A)

182: Austin lost by forfeit

195: Austin lost by forfeit

220: Sam Winkels pinned Dylan Peper (M) (4:55)

285: Mayo won by forfeit