Rising numbers buoying North wrestling team

After suffering through a number of years with low numbers, the North High School wrestling program came up with a plan to boost those numbers. The results of that plan should begin to show up this season.

The numbers of middle school wrestlers has risen the last few years and the high school coaches have been proactive in keeping those kids interested in wrestling as they transition to the high school.

"We're really working the last few years with the middle school coaches in building a good, strong core," said North head coach Denver Moeller. "This is the first year we're seeing that process come through.

We've got seven or eight freshmen who have been together since sixth grade."

Those freshmen got some junior varsity experience the past couple of years to prepare them for when they move to the high school team.

"Give them a couple more years and they might not be state champions but I think they can get to the state tournament," said Moeller, who is in his 10th season as head coach.

With the influx of younger wrestlers, Moeller expects to be able to field a full lineup, which should help when it comes to picking up dual-match victories.

"The last few years at sections we've really struggled because we've had holes in our lineup," Moeller said. "It's tough, when you have four open spots, to go anywhere."

Moeller would like to see North land in the middle of pack in both the Metro East Conference and Section 4AAA.

"I think we'll be able to turn some heads this year," Moeller said.

Of the wrestlers who have been on varsity for a few years, Moeller expects good things out of seniors Louie Varland and Josh Hurley.

Varland, ranked eighth in Class AAA at 160 pounds, is a two-time state entrant and is closing in on the school record for career wins. He started the season with 92 victories and the school record is 111.

Hurley wrestles at 132 pounds and has come a long way according to Moeller.

The Polars opened the season with a quadrangular meet at St. Paul Harding on Dec. 3 and at Fridley's Don Meyer Invitational on Dec. 5. North went 2-1 at the quad meet and finished ninth out of 12 teams at the Fridley event.

Individually, North had four wrestlers place at the invitational. Hurley scored the Polars' lone championship by winning the 132-pound bracket. Hurley wrapped up the championship with an 8-4 decision over Ben Schmalz of Mound Westonka.

A second-place finish went to Varland. Varland scored an 8-2 decision in the first round, picked up a fall victory in the semifinals and then lost 8-4 to Tartanís Justin Burg in the final.

North added a third-place finish by sophomore Irving Sereno at 182 pounds and got a sixth-place performance from senior at Gene Hogate at 145 pounds.

North closes out the pre-Christmas portion of its schedule with events on back-to-back days. The Polars host perennial state power Simley on Dec. 17 and wrestle in a tournament at Chisago Lakes on Dec. 18. Over the holiday break, North hosts a multi-team tournament on New Year's Eve, starting at 9:30 a.m.


The Titans opened the season at the Don Meyers Invitational on Dec. 5 at Fridley High School. Tartan finished fifth (out of 12) in the team standings while Delano took home the team championship.

Individually, Tartan had eight wrestlers place in the top six of their respective weight classes. Senior Justin Burg was responsible for the Titans' lone individual championship. Burg, wrestling at 160 pounds, went 3-0 on the day and picked up an 8-4 victory in the final.

Junior Nathan Alvarado was the runner-up at 113 pounds. He advanced to the final but lost by a technical fall. Tartan also picked up a third-place finish thanks to sophomore Silvio Whidby, who was wrestling at 132 pounds. Whidby won his first-round match, lost in the semifinals and then won twice in the consolation rounds to claim third.

The Titans have just one more match prior to the holiday break. Tartan travels to Henry Sibley for a Metro East Conference dual on Dec. 17 at 7 p.m.

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.

2015-16 North High School wrestling schedule

Dec. 3    at St. Paul Harding quad    5 p.m.
Dec. 5    at Fridley tournament    9 a.m.
Dec. 10    at Mahtomedi triangular    5:30 p.m.
Dec. 12    at Andover tournament    10 a.m.
Dec. 17    vs. Simley    7 p.m.
Dec. 18    at Chisago Lakes tournament    4 p.m.
Dec. 31    Home tournament    9:30 a.m.
Jan. 7    at Tartan    7 p.m.
Jan. 14    vs. Hastings    7 p.m.
Jan. 16    Home tournament    9:30 a.m.
Jan. 20    at South St. Paul triangular    5 p.m.
Jan. 23    at South St. Paul invite    10 a.m.
Jan. 28    Home triangular    5 p.m.
Jan. 30    at Roseville quadrangular    9 a.m.
Feb. 2    at White Bear Lake quad    4 p.m.
Feb. 4    vs. St. Thomas Academy    7 p.m.
Feb. 13    Section 4AAA team    TBA
Feb. 20    Section 4AAA individual    TBA
Feb. 25    State tournament    TBA
Feb. 26    State tournament    TBA
Feb. 27    State tournament    TBA


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