“We got some other guys laying in the weeds that are going to surprise some people”.
When it comes to the Emmetsburg E-Hawk wrestling program, success comes with the name. Last season, Head Coach Tyler Bjustrom took the crown of being the Class 1A Coach of the Year. He says that he can’t personally speak of that honor without giving credit to his team for getting him in that position.
“I think that’s just something that happens when you have dedicated kids”, Bjustrom said.
With five wrestlers making it to Wells Fargo Arena for the state tournament and being able to have a team that won the Class 1A Regional Dual sending the team to take 6th in State Dual competition, the E’Hawks will be enjoying the chance to see a lot of familiar faces on the mats again this year.
“We have a really good group coming back”, Bjustrom continued. “They’ve put in the time and put in a lot of extra work”.
A new group of competition will be on the horizon for the E’Hawk wrestlers though. Coach Bjustrom said that he got together with the other coaches and his team to ask about the opportunity of moving up to Class 2A.
“That was a choice I made just purely because we had the opportunity to do it. We have to have higher goals than to be the best team in the area”.
The team had gone undefeated in duals last season and they believe the ability to see other forms of competition will be needed.
“Our goal needs to be to wrestle with teams South of Highway 20”, Bjustrom said. Historically, those teams have given the squad some issues.
Having Runner-Up State Champion Spencer Griffin graduating and now wrestling for Grandview University, the Emmetsburg squad is poised and ready for another season with State Tournament experienced wrestlers returning for another shot at competing at “The Well”. Spencer was a key contributor for the team, but Bjustrom is excited to be able to see the up and coming freshman class that will make this year’s wrestle-offs a lot of fun to watch.
“We have a big freshman class coming in. [The wrestlers] are going to have to earn their spot a little bit more than years past. And when [they] earn that spot, it is a big deal”.
Mason Griffin, a senior now, had fallen in the semi-final round at the State Tournament in the 160-pound bracket. Mason enjoyed a solid 41-10 record last season and will undoubtedly bring experience and tenacity like he had in the years before. Sean Brennan, who fell in the first round in the State Tournament, will be back on the mats as a junior this year. Brennan found success in the 113-pound weight class last year ending with a 35-12 record.
Other notable over 30-win wrestlers last season include 126-pound senior Levi Aldous (35-6), 138- pound junior Colton Anderson (33-18), junior 152-pound Bret Hoyman (39-8), senior Jon Lace II (31-10), and 106-pounder Nic Lowe who, as a freshman ended the season with a 32-18 record. But, these local favorites aren’t the only ones Coach Bjustrom is encouraging people to be looking out for.
“We got some other guys laying in the weeds that are going to surprise some people”, he said.
Coach Bjustrom is happy to see that there are no signs of injury in any of his wrestlers and there has been a level of commitment to the success of the team that he has recognized. The wrestlers have been preparing themselves by participating in other sports and using volunteers such as Tom Griffin to help them get better during the offseason.
“It’s turning into more of a commitment on their end and that’s when things start getting exciting; when guys have something to lose. We are continuing to put the rabbit in front of them. They got a taste of what good, serious wrestling is last year”, Bjustrom said.
Now that fall sports are officially over for the surrounding school districts in Palo Alto county, the focus has shifted to the good, hard-nosed winter sports that Emmetsburg E’Hawk fans have come to expect and enjoy.
Wrestlers are allowed to start officially practicing this season on November 18th and first competitions are slotted to begin on December 3rd. The E-Hawks will open up their competition on December 5th in a Double Dual at Storm Lake.