The Mora Mustangs wrestling team excelled at last year’s Minnesota State Tournament, and in the process defeated a longtime Granite Ridge Conference foe. With several experienced underclassmen returning and a new member of Section 7AA, the team is ready to overcome the new season’s challenges.
Last spring the Mustangs placed fifth in team competition at the State Tournament, and defeated rival Foley in historic fashion. Eight Mora wrestlers went on to the individual competition, with four winning their first-round matches.
Head coach Tom Youngblom had this to say about the 2019-20 season:
Q: What’s different for this season’s team, compared to last season?
A: Last season was pretty special, as far as the team aspect of wrestling goes. It was far from the most talented team we’ve ever had but it achieved more team success than any other team we’ve had. That’s pretty evident by being the consolation State champions in 2019. Our returning underclassmen are significantly better, so I anticipate a lot of individual success this year. The team will still be above average; we’re anticipating a 20-plus win season this year, but I think it’s a tall order to have as much success in the State Tournament this year, or even to get there.
Q: What challenges do you expect the team to face this year?
A: Foley has moved into our section, and they didn’t graduate very many wrestlers. So making it back to the State Tournament is going to be a huge task.
Q: How does the coaching staff prepare for a new season?
A: We graduated five seniors that were in the State Tournament as individuals, so we’re focusing on the development of our underclassmen. We only have two seniors, both with very limited varsity experience. So our focus is on our experienced underclassmen, and making the overall team better as the season goes on.
Q: What makes a player a good team captain?
A: In the wrestling world a good captain can push the team harder and more effectively than a coach can, when it comes to the end of practice and frustration, doubt and fatigue set in. Having a high school voice pushing and supporting the entire team is very beneficial.
Q: How do you think participation in athletics affects students beyond the sport?
A: I’m sure every sport feels like their athletes are part of a family, so I don’t feel that is unique to our sport. Lifelong relationships are made in all sports. But wrestling truly is one of the only sports that businesses appreciate; they understand the commitment and sacrifice that wrestlers make in high school. That is a badge of honor on your resume. It’s a very rare thing for a high school student to understand how to function as an individual while truly supporting a team. We talked about it in practice: if it takes eight kids to move a 2,000 pound mat and one kid skips out of it, the mat doesn’t get lighter or move itself. The other seven kids still need to move the now-heavier mat. Actions have consequences. That’s just a small example of how wrestling builds character that’s useful in the real world.
The Mustangs open the new season on Friday, Dec. 6, at section rival Princeton.