Augustana Wrestler’s Optimistic About Upcoming Season

Alexis Jones

The Augustana wrestling team gears up to start the 2019-20 season at the Rochester Technical College Open this Saturday, Nov. 2. 
The Vikings will travel to Rochester, Minnesota to compete against an array of top talents from around the country.
The focus this year for the Vikings is building the program back to its former glory. 
Since the program’s inception in 1948, the program has won 37 CCIW Championships and finished in the top 15 at the NCAA Tournament 11 times. Last season the Vikings finished with an overall record of 1-10.
According to senior wrestler Clemente Martin, last year the team was plagued with injuries and struggled to achieve high scores at dual meets, especially in comparison with their performances in tournament play. In addition to these setbacks, the Vikings graduated two of their top scorers, Dale Charlier and Travis Pulse.
In spite of these challenges, the wrestler’s are optimistic about this upcoming season.
“We have a smaller upper classman group this year compared to in years past,” Martin said.“But I definitely think that [Coach] Tony has shown us a lot in his three years of being here. I definitely think we’re gonna see it this year on the mat.”
Senior Joshua Bush expressed that his optimism stems from watching the newcomers recruited by Coach Tony Willaert.
“They already are working hard. You can really see it in the room. They are starting to be leaders even though they are young,” Bush said.
Adding on to Bush’s sentiments, Martin had similar ideas: “Everyone here has been grinding and doing their extra stuff in the summer. We’ve all been working out and staying on top of each other,” Martin said.
Along with a tough incoming class, the Vikings feel that Coach Willaert has equipped the team with a great foundation to have the ability to compete against any opponent.
“We all can wrestle the exact same,” Bush said. “We all have the ability to qualify for nationals. It’s a lot of the young guys that are gonna have to step up, but the people that were already here have developed so much since our freshman year. It makes us push harder and not take it easy on them because our opponents are not gonna make it easy.”
According to both seniors, the key to success for the Vikings this year is going to be momentum and heart. “We want to have an all around tough team and compete no matter if we’re the underdog or not. We just have to go out there and give it one hundred percent and see the outcome,” Bush said.
A key returner for the Vikings is senior stand out and Viking MVP Adarios Jones. Jones finished the season with an overall record of 27-1; with the loss occurring in the NCAA National Championship title match.
Taking all of these strengths into consideration, the Vikings hope to prove that last year’s record has no bearing on the goals they have set for themselves.
Martin and Bush believe that everyone on the team is hungry and ready to show what they are made of.
The Vikings begin their journey this Saturday in Rochester, Minnesota.