George Farmah photo

George Farmah (facing) is one of seven returning wrestlers for the Minnesota State team this season. Farmah, a 133-pounder, is coming off a national runner-up finish in 2017-18. Photo Courtesy of MSU Sports Information

MANKATO -- Minnesota State wrestler George Farmah doesn't remember the exact moment it came together for him last season; he just knows he was a much better wrestler from that moment on.

Farmah, a 133-pounder out of St. Paul's Eastview High School, arrived at MSU last season after two years at Iowa Lakes Community College. He came in as an NJCAA All-American and quickly established himself as a starter for the Mavericks.

After a solid regular season, he peaked in the playoffs. He finished second in the Super Region 3 regional and then reached the finals of the Division II national tournament, where he finished second.

"He needed to find his own identity as a wrestler," MSU assistant coach Ty Eustice said. "Instead of standing still and reacting to what his opponent was trying to do, he had to get aggressive. Once he established his style, he did a lot better."

Farmah ended up with a 13-7 record, including 7-3 in dual meets. He is one of the team's top returning wrestlers.

Yes, he wants to win a national championship, but he wants the team to be successful, as well.

"The best thing that could happen in my senior season is for us to win a national championship as a team," Farmah said. "That would overshadow anything I could do individually."

Mavericks head coach Jim Makovsky smiles when he hears Farmah talk about team goals. He knows the lightweight is serious about putting teammates first.

"That's who he is," Makovsky said. "But he knows better than anyone that for the team to win a title, he has to do everything he can to win one on his own."

Farmah admits he didn't do much wrestling last summer and instead worked two jobs in Mankato. That's his usual path during the offseason and believes it makes him a better wrestler.

"I need some time away when the season's over," he said. "Right now I can't wait to get the season started, and I think having so much down time makes me hungrier."

Farmah is one of seven returning starters for a Mavericks team that finished 10th in the country last season. Matt Blome (184 pounds) would have been the eighth, but he suffered a knee injury and will be out for the season.

Seniors Seth Elwood (165 pounds, 16-11) and Daniel Close (157, 18-7) are back, as are juniors Zach Johnston (174, 24-8) and Andrew McFall (125, 17-8).

Junior Louie Sanders (141, 17-9) is also back along with sophomore Kyle Rathman (149, 22-10). With so many returners, the competition for the remaining starting spots is intense.

Brandon Moen, a transfer from Eastern Michigan who wrestled at Owatonna High School, is the favorite to win the 184-pound spot.

Waseca native Lucas Hagel, who transferred in from Ridgewater Community College, is pushing McFall at 125 pounds, and two of the top heavyweight contenders are freshmen Max Villnow from Amherst, Wisconsin, and Sam Horn from Eden Prairie.

"The competition is really good in the wrestling room right now," Makovsky said. "Last year we were one match away from winning just about all our dual meets. Like always, we'll try develop our guys during the tournament season."

The Mavericks (7-4 in 2017-18) open the season Saturday at the Yellowjacket Open in Rochester.

Jim Rueda is The Free Press Sports Editor. Follow him on twitter @JimRueda

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