By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor
Alphonso Vruno may not have been a well-known name before the Minnesota State wrestling season started, but after improving to 9-0 on Thursday, people are starting to take notice.
Vruno was part of a nine-match run as the Mavericks cruised to a 42-3 nonconference victory over Newman College of Kansas at Bresnan Arena. The freshman was a 16-0, tech-fall winner at 133 pounds.
“He’s a good wrestler; he’s legit,” MSU coach Jim Makovsky said. “I know it’s a cliche, but he’s very coachable. He looks you in the eye when you tell him something, and you can tell he’s listening.”
Vruno is a native of Sandwich, Ill., which explains why he has been basically unknown to Minnesota wrestling fans until now. He was originally penciled in at 141 pounds, but just before the season started, he dropped to 133 and earned the starting job.
“I just saw that as my best opportunity to wrestle right away,” Vruno said. “I’m a little surprised to be undefeated at this point, but I’m excited, too. I know I still have a lot to learn.”
Vruno was one of four newcomers in the lineup Thursday night. Freshman Thomas Allen won by forfeit at 149, and Sawyer Hoffman picked up a 7-2 win at 157. Junior transfer Corby Running suffered the only loss for the Mavericks, dropping a 5-1 decision at heavyweight.
MSU’s top two returning All-Americans were both big winners. Fourth-ranked David Demo won an 8-0 major decision at 125, and third-ranked Cody Quinn pinned his man in 2:12 at 165.
Drew Lexvold and Aaron Norgren also had impressive wins for the Mavericks. Lexvold improved to 5-0 with a pin in 4:06 at 141 pounds, and Norgren held off a third-period rally by Tyler Hasenbank to win 14-9 at 184.
“We still have a long way to go; we’re not near the team we’re going to be at the end of the year,” said Makovsky, who claimed his 250th career victory. “But we’re young so I’m not going to complain too much. A win is a win.”
The Mavericks (2-0) compete in the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Open on Saturday.