On Monday night, St. James wrestling officially ended its 2019-2020 campaign with a virtual meeting held via Zoom.
Following a short middle school and junior varsity program, head coach Jake Johnson acknowledged the improvements and work ethic of all the wrestlers.
"A lot of things stick out when looking at the 2019-2020 wrestling season. The first thing that sticks out is the continued growth in our numbers as a whole in the 7-12 program. Our numbers as a program continue to increase. That is a very promising sign."
"The second thing that sticks out is the willingness of this group to accept things that we as coaches ask of them. When asked to do something for the betterment of the team they responded positively to it. The third thing that comes to mind is the growth of our individual athletes over the course of the season."
The Saints graduate a strong senior class, including three all-conference performers in Tallin Johnson, Troy Parulski, and Peyton Engelking.
"I was impressed by seniors this year, as well as their careers," said Johnson. "To say they are leaving big shoes to fill is an understatement."
Johnson took home multiple awards for his 32-4 year, which concluded in a 4th place finish at the state wrestling meet. Johnson took home team MVP honors and recorded the most wins, most tech falls, takedowns, quickest pin, most team points, and major decisions. Johnson was also named KNUJ Player of the Week.
"He achieved his goal of placing (at the state tournament) and is a testament that offseason work brings success to the high school season," said Johnson. "When we talk about continuing the process— working hard in the offseason, lifting weights, and doing those things that separate you— Tallin is a true testament to what you put in is what you're going to get out."
Engelking recorded 24 wins, with 18 of them coming via pin, most on the club. Engelking also led the team in reversals.
Parulski finished the year with 25 wins and an impressive showing at the Red River Riot.
Fellow senior Wyatt Westcott finished with 20 wins and battled hard in the section tournament, making it all the way to the true-second match at 126.
For his work, Westcott received the most improved honors and was awarded the hardest worker award alongside junior Austin Knickrehm.
"A couple of those guys who won those underdog matches, there's a reason they won them," said Ross Wargula. "Look at Wyatt and Austin being the hardest workers in the room and there's a reason they overcame in those underdog matches because they put in the work in the wrestling room and outside the wrestling room, so that's just something younger guys should take into account going forward."
Next season, the Saints will likely lean on Knickrehm, Josh Olivares, and a bevy of underclassmen to shoulder the load of the loss of a high-quality senior class.
Guillotine Awards- Peyton Engelking 25 pins, Tallin Johnson- 100 wins, 50 pins, captain pin, Troy Parulski- 75 wins, 25 pins, Wyatt Westcott- 60 wins
Letterwinners- Emilio Goring, Derek Fast, Kollin Anderson, Josh Carreon, Jarrett Durheim, David Rathman, Gadiel Velasco, Peyton Engelking, Tallin Johnson, Jackson Miest, Troy Parulski, Wyatt Westcott, Austin Knickrehm, Josh Olivares, Cesar Olivares, Koltin Johnson, Kayl Johnson (stats)
Men on A Mission (MoM) Award: Levi Miest, Kollin Andeson, Tallin Johnson
Spotlight on Scholarship- Peyton Engelking, Jackson Miest, Wyatt Westcott, Emilio Goring, Austin Knickrehm, Josh Olivares, Alexis Herrera (stats)
Underdog Awards- Kollin Anderson (dual vs. Pipestone), Gadiel Velasco (dual vs. St. Clair), Wyatt Westcott (3rd place match at sections), Josh Olivares (dual vs. LCWM), Austin Knickrehm (section tournament, down 7-1, gets fall), Jackson Miest (first varsity match, Springfield), Derek Fast (Madelia), Tallin Johnson (state quarterfinals), Peyton Engelking (dual vs. New Ulm), Koltin Johnson (dual vs. LeSueur Henderson)