Wrestling season preview
December 6, 2018
As the season if off to a hot start, the Royals look to have one of their most successful seasons in a long time.
The Royals have a good mix of experienced wrestlers to build up their core, and a young coach in his second season who is looking to find success with the team.
At the end of the individual section tournament, the Royals sent three wrestlers to the state tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul. Clifton Patterson, senior, Demetrius Patton, junior, and RJ Chakolis, sophomore, all placed top two in their weight class at sections last year (state qualifying).
The team has a lot of opportunity. They have a talented roster and are poised for their most successful season in years.
Coming off of their annual trip to the Fridley invitational tournament in which they placed fourth, which was the highest they have placed since 2011. Which was also the last time the team went to the state tournament.
In their respective weight classes, Jaxon Williams, eighth grader, placed third, Patterson, placed second, D’Allen Rutherford, junior, placed fifth, Patton, placed second, Aaron Bertsch, junior, placed third, and Chakolis was the tournament champion in his weight class.
The way the Royals placed fourth was astounding as they only had six wrestlers total out of a possible 14 in a full lineup. Apart from this, Hopkins also had five junior varsity tournament champions.
The Royals are proud of their win, but look to continue this success as the season continues after success from last season for some, and the team looking to improve as a whole.
“I feel good about placing third, and as a team we placed fourth with only six varsity wrestlers out of the 14 most other teams had. We will begin to fill more weight classes and hopefully all by the end of the year,” Bertsch said.
There is also a lot of positive energy surrounding the team in the earlier stages of the season.
“I feel really good this year compared to last, we have a lot of new wrestlers and it is really great to see the program grow,” Bertsch said.
Team captain Chakolis who is well known within the community as a successful football linebacker also has had a lot of success on the wrestling mat.
As he looks to go to the state tournament for the third straight season, and overall, he can feel pressure.
“I feel like there is a lot of pressure talking about what I am gonna do in state, but as a leader I feel like that comes naturally just based off my personality,” Chakolis said. “I would also say when wrestling, I am very nervous when stepping on the mat, but once it’s on, it’s on and I forget everything and the only thing I know is there is another guy in front of me I gotta take out.”
The Guillotine (Website for the Minnesota ameteur wrestling community) has rankings released every month during the season. They rank top twelve teams, “lean and mean” teams that are outside the top ten, and the top ten wrestlers at each weight class in the state.
Although Hopkins does not have anyone ranked as of now, the team may face some ranked wrestlers throughout the season, and there is also pressure felt when an opportunity like this comes along.
“When wrestling a ranked guy I think of it as a great learning opportunity and I also think of it as a good thing for me. I have nothing to lose when going into the match and the other guy has everything to lose,” Chakolis said.
The Royals conference as of now does not have any ranked teams. Next season with the addition of Buffalo and St. Michael Albertville, the Royals and the Lake Conference are gaining a state wrestling power in STMA.