Thole: Stillwater grapplers remain in hunt for SEC title, state bid
Coach Rich Keller’s Ponies wrestlers (6-1 SEC, 13-16) were knocked out of first place for the Suburban East Conference lead due to a 33-30 loss to upstart Woodbury last Thursday night at the Stable. Hastings took over first place with two victories in a conference triangular to remain the only undefeated team left in SEC.
After losing to Woodbury, the Ponies dispatched Tartan 45-25 in the triangular.
Double winners for the good guys were junior Dillan Nelson at 126 pounds, Austin Jordan at 132 pounds, junior Collin Olson at 152 and Sebastian Dingle at 182.
The loss to Woodbury was costly, but the Red and Black still control their own destiny with matches against Roseville and a possible conference title match-up at Hastings on Thursday, Feb. 7. A little birdie tells me that the good guys will win Section 4AAA and advance to the big show for the fifth time since 1996.
I believe that because Keller schedules tough competition and he has a good stable of wrestlers, including three that are state ranked. Christian Bahl, a scrappy eighth-grader, is ranked eighth at 106 pounds with a 22-10 record, Austin Jordan (26-6) is listed seventh at 126 and Nelson (23-7) is ranked eighth at 132.
Although there are a couple of spots still open, I think the rest of the lineup from this point on will settle in nicely, including Wayde Hall (8-8) at 120 pounds. Hall made it to state last year, but got off to a late start — don’t count this guy out because he is a state cross country champ.
Others include: 106 pounds — eighth-grader Patrick Stokes; 138 — Andy Jordan (14-14); 152 — Collin Olson (15-15); 160 — junior Grant Wohlwend (11-8); 170 — captain Dave Olson (13-13); 182 — Dingle (20-10), who is coming on; 195 — junior Mitch Schertz (13-20); 220 — junior Haden Hausken (8-18); and 285-pound junior Ryan Peltier (7-12).
I said before the season started the Ponies would be at the big show. I’m standing pat and raising my bid. That’s easy for me to say, but that’s the beauty of being retired.
Arnfelt enjoys fine career
Former Ponies standout football player Brian Arnfelt ’08 finished his collegiate career with Northwestern’s 34-20 victory over Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl last month.
The son of Lake Elmo’s Rick and Cathy Arnfelt was not only a team captain for the Wildcats (10-3) football team, but he also maintained a GPA of 3.519 at the rigorous Big Ten school. This spring, he will receive his MA (4.0) and will be taking his LSAT and continue his education at law school. This kid knows where the library is.
Arnfelt, a 6-foot-5, 300-pound d-tackle, started 13 games last fall and compiled 25 tackles (14 solo), six negative tackles for 33 yards and three sacks for 26 yards. Ever the leader, Arnfelt was elected by his teammates to the leadership council at Northwestern.
Brian was voted to the 2012 Capitol One Academic All-American Team, was selected a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar and was an All-Big Ten Scholar for four years. He was also the top scholar athlete awarded by the NU Alumni Association.
Considering his gridiron success, academic awards and recognized leadership skills, it’s obvious that Arnfelt used his time wisely at Northwestern.
In the huddle
Erika Weimann, the daughter of former Ponies and Bemidji State all-conference gridder Dennis Weimann, recently made 4 of 6 shots from outside the arc in Macalester’s three-point overtime loss to St. Catherine. The teams were knotted 82-all in regulation…. Standout Ponies MVP quarterback Nate Ricci will take his talents to Division II power UM-Duluth next fall…. Cretin-Derham Hall slipped past our SAHS girls’ basketball team (4-15) 44-36 on Friday night at the Stable. It was nip and tuck throughout most of the game as neither squad could develop any consistent scoring. The Raiders 6-foot-2 center Jordyn Alt was held to eight points, which was the same number scored by Ponies Haley Balzart and spunky freshman guard Rilee Day. Rounding out the scoring for the locals were junior Natalie Johnson with six points, Morgan Tschumperlin 5, sophomore Larissa Colvin 4, Paige Becker 3 and Annie Lauber 2. Both teams struggled with their outside scoring, but it made for an exciting contest…. The gymnastics team of coach Traci Swenson ran into a buzz saw last week and suffered its first loss of the season to Roseville (7-0) 146.1-136.325. The Ponies (6-1) did manage to outduel the Raiders 35.925-35.65 in the vault with Kylie Wittl placing second (9.275), Lillyan Pan fourth (9.15), Sidnee Ronsberg fifth (8.875), Lauren Thole (8.625) and Maddie Steffl (8.5). Through the years, the vault has been the Big Red’s strong suit. Remember state champions Caroline Hilpisch, who won gold medals in both the vault and floor in 2005, and Danielle Sneden (2004) and Chloe Leuma (2011), who also won titles in the vault. The No. 1-ranked Roseville outfit, which has won five state titles in seven years, appear headed to No. 6. Wittl placed third in the floor (9.275), fourth in bars (9.05) and fourth in the all-around (36.15) while Sami Matschi placed fourth in the beam with a score of 8.85. The locals travel to Hastings for an SEC contest tonight…. If you are a Ponies hockey
buff, you might want to check out the Second Annual Boot Hockey Tournament at 10920 Norwood Ave. N. (approximately two miles north of Otto Berg Park off of Norell Ave. N. Lots of ex-Ponies will be competing in the tourney on Saturday, Feb. 2 starting at 9 a.m. Proceeds from the 10-team tourney will be going to the Josh Gunderson Memorial Fund. For more info, check with Nick and Matt Howe at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s a worthy cause!…. Last Saturday was a good night for the Red and Black as the boys’ hockey team (8-9-1) defeated Park 2-1 with goals from Mitch Reinke and Sam Sagissor and the girls (13-9-1) with two goals from sophomore Sierra Smith and a goal from Ali Biagini crushed Derham Hall 3-bagel. The boys’ cage team (12-4) won their second game in as many days with a 56-52 victory over Hudson. The good guys had balanced scoring with Aaron Romportl collecting 12 and Andrew Duxbury and Sam Lagus with 11 each leading the way…. Don’t tread on me…. finis
Today’s rumination #603
Aspire to inspire before you expire.
• • • •
George Thole retired as head football coach at Stillwater after the 1999 season. He ranks among Minnesota’s top coaches in history with a 285-69-2 record (.805 winning percentage), including four state titles and two state runner-up finishes among 22 championship seasons. He co-authored (with Jerry Foley) “Coaching the Veer Offense,” second edition. His column appears Thursdays in the Gazette. To contact the hall of fame coach e-mail: email@example.com