INVER GROVE HEIGHTS, Minn. (BVM) — Simley High School wrestling is coming off a season that to many looked like one of its best ever.
The Spartans went 22-0 during the 2019-20 season, winning the MSHSL 2A team state championship as well as having five wrestlers win individual state championships. The team also won prestigious tournaments during the regular season like the Cheesehead, Cliff King and Minnesota Christmas tournament.
“You just don’t have seasons like that very often,” Simley head coach Will Short said.
However, as Short looked towards this season, he was excited at all the talent he was bringing back.
“I never didn’t have my eye on it,” Short said. “I do believe we have a special group this year and obviously their accomplishments speak for themselves.”
The Spartans are returning nine place winners, seven finalists and four individual state champions. Six of his wrestlers are also ranked nationally and his five seniors are all going to Division I programs to wrestle in college next year.
“To have a team like that is really kind of crazy and unheard of,” Short said. “Even kind of uncharted territory for me and I have had some great teams with some very good guys but not with the kind of accomplishments these guys have.
“Every guy we put out there is a 25 to 30 match winner. …There’s just no holes.”
Unfortunately the question quickly went from what will the team accomplish to will it even get a chance. The COVID-19 pandemic has put uncertainty into all sports seasons.
“I do like wrestling’s chance of going,” Short said. “I believe wrestling can be done in a safe way.”
Wrestling already has health and skin checks it does normally before events so the addition of COVID testing could be added to those checks easily. Also the fact that it is a one on one sport allows for the sport to create situations where wrestlers have limited contact with others within events and practices.
Wrestling has also shown that events can be done following COVID-19 regulations because even though many summer events were canceled, there have still been some tournaments.
“The success of those events of not having huge outbreaks after those events is what allowed wrestling to even be considered,” Short said.
The season is slated to start Dec. 10 with 16 triangulars that will account for 32 matches per player during the regular season. Short is confident, but above all else, he just wants the opportunity for his team to get out on the mat
“That would be a tragedy honestly,” Short said about the possibility of not being able to showcase this team.
Especially because of the senior class. Bennet Tabor, Quayin Short, Cael Berg, Ryan Sokol and Reid Nelson are all elite wrestlers in their weight classes. Many of them have been at Simley since kindergarten and Short has been able to watch them come up through the program.
“They’re outstanding young men and they’re the reason we are where we are,” Short said.
To send them off properly with a chance to wrestle one more time as a Simley Spartan is all that matters at this point. Whether it’s a whole season or just one meet, the Spartans are ready to show everyone why this year’s team is one for the history books and they will have fun doing it.
“We will enjoy whatever we get,” Short said.