By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor
It takes a lot to get Minnesota State wrestling coach Jim Makovsky excited but when you ask him about his 2012-13 team, he does a lot of smiling.
He’s excited because he believes he has a lot of quality wrestlers who are also good people. “They all want to be here, they all want to work hard, they all want the team to be successful,” he said.
Makovsky admits he’s had a number of “me-first” wrestlers in the practice room the last few years but says they’re all gone. He knows there is no guarantee that the positive attitudes of his wrestlers will translate into wins but he also knows his current crop of student athletes is fun to coach.
“I really like coming to practice these days,” said Makovsky, who battled a chronic hip problem all last year before getting a replacement two weeks after the season. “I feel 10 years younger now.”
The 2012-13 squad will be led by a number of wrestlers including seniors Aaron Norgren (184 pounds) of Good Thunder, Alex Folk (157) of Janesville, Wis., and Nathan Haynes (197) of Madelia. Norgren missed last season with a broken leg but has previously placed twice at nationals.
Folk was 6-7 in limited action last year while Haynes was a heavyweight who compiled a 14-11 record. Haynes will drop down to 197 this year.
Two more top returnees are junior David Demo (125) of Bozeman, Mont. and sophomore Cody Quinn (165) of Covington, Wash. Both wrestlers qualified for nationals last year with Demo compiling a 29-13 record and Quinn amassing a 23-10 mark.
Another top returnee is 174-pound junior Brandon Eichmann. Eichmann qualified for nationals two years ago and went 20-14 last season. Drew Lexvold (141) of Kenyon is also back after going 13-8 a year ago.
The other favorites to earn starting spots during the nonconference season are Nathan Hennes (133) of Hartford, Wis.; Thomas Allen (149) of Menasha, Wis.; and junior Corby Running (heavyweight) of Wilmington, Ohio.
Hennes was here last year but redshirted after compiling a 145-29 record in high school. Running wrestled at Division III Ashland University last season where he finished 14-20.
The Mavericks are coming off a 5-9 season in which they finished ninth in the region. Makovsky is hoping the team does better this year.
“We always want to be all in,” Makovsky said. “If I ask a wrestler his goal and he doesn’t say to win a national championship, I tell him he has to change his goals.”
MSU opens the season Saturday at the Yellow Jacket Open in Rochester. The Mavericks’ home opener is Thursday, Nov. 8, against Waldorf College of Iowa.