By Brandon Spratt
Two Johnnies hit the mats last Saturday at the North Country Open, but they had very different routes to get there.
St. John’s sophomore wrestler Noah Becker is in the midst of another fine season with a 19-8 record on the year. St. John’s senior Jack Edberg, on the other hand, was competing in his first tournament in nearly three years.
Edberg competed on the wrestling team during his freshman year, but quit after the season.
“I was just burnt out,” Edberg said.
However, over winter break Edberg and his friend Chase Monger flirted with the idea of entering one final tournament together.
“I thought I would give it one last go and the [North Country Open] was close to home,” Edberg said. “[Monger entering] gave me the courage to show up so I wasn’t by myself.”
Edberg went to Shakopee High School and Monger went to Eden Prairie High School. The two wrestlers from neighboring communities built a bond over the years.
Monger wrestled two years for the Johnnies and graduated last May. Unfortunately, he had to drop out of the tournament last Saturday due to injury in the first round.
“He had fun, he just became my coach the rest of the day, so he was in my corner,” Edberg said.
As for Edberg, he won his first two matches to advance to the semifinals. The second win came via injury default.
“I kinda came into the tournament with low expectations,” Edberg said. “I just wanted to have some fun.”
Edberg lost his semifinal match, but ended with a 3-2 overall record and a fifth place finish in the 174-pound weight class.
He had many friends and family in attendance as well.
“It was a packed house for me. Everybody I wanted to be there was there,” Edberg said. “Unfortunately they showed up for the matches I lost.”
Edberg achieved a higher finish than the current Johnnie wrestler in the 174-pound weight class did, as sophomore Dan Gainer went 0-2.
Gainer’s teammate Becker had a bit more success last Saturday. Becker went 2-1 and finished in second place.
Becker faced Division I wrestler Brent Fleetwood from North Dakota State University in the final.
“The finals match was definitely a tougher opponent, but I felt I still wrestled well,” Becker said.
Last season, Becker was a Division III National Championship participant in the 133-pound weight class.
After the Johnnies graduated their 125-pound wrestler, Becker stepped into that role this year.
“I thought, maybe, wrestling smaller guys would help me to win more matches,” Becker said.
Becker seems to be right as he has a 19-8 record on the season, and all but two of his matches have come against Division II or Division III opponents.
Cutting his body weight down to 125 pounds has been a challenge though.
“I’m finally getting down to the spot where I need to be with my weight,” Becker said.
He works out two or three times a day to keep his weight down and eats small meals.
“A lot of sauna time involved,” Becker said. “Two days before a tournament is when I start cutting out liquids.”
Because he is in the smaller weight classes, Becker rarely sees older or unattached opponents, such as Edberg or Monger, due to the rigorous training required.
The 125-pound weight class is especially a lot of freshman and sophomores,” Becker said.
Becker sees himself returning to the 133-pound weight class for his final two years.
“If I was crazy, I would stay down at 125,” Becker said.
Becker and his teammates return to action on Saturday, Feb. 3, in Eau Claire, Wis.
The Johnnies then host Division III No. 1 Augsburg at 7 p.m. on Feb. 9.