That was the key for the Detroit Lakes wrestling team, as the Lakers tied their all-time win record with a 22-7 mark.
From 106 pounds to heavyweight, the Lakers could count on being in virtually every match, as they narrowly missed out making state as a team by wrestling to the Section 8-2A finals, before succumbing to Perham.
“Balance was the definition of this team,” said DL head coach Rob Ullyott. “This was a fun group to work with, because they did work hard in the practice room and the development by the young wrestlers really came along.”
The Lakers had reliable depth to pull them to within every match, starting with sophomore 106-pounder Tyler Bellefeuille, who finished with a record of 20-13.
From there, the Lakers had solid wrestlers with the majority scoring around the 20-win mark, which included Jarrett Nosal (28-8), junior Brandon Dahring (22-15), junior Jeff Gailfus (23-20) and sophomore Luke Payne (23-10).
The majority of the wrestlers occupied the middle weights, where the Lakers were especially strong.
That of course included both of DL sixth-place state placers in senior Zach Baker at 138 pounds and sophomore Parker Jackson at 145.
Baker concludes a stellar Laker career with a 42-8 record, while Jackson keeps climbing away after finishing 42-6.
“For Zach to finish as a top six wrestler in the state, it’s a tremendous accomplishment and ending to his career,” Ullyott said. “Parker just gained valuable experience by placing in state, while our heavyweight James Huwe (33-12) will be looking at a good future after making state as a freshman.”
From 160-170 pounds, the Lakers improved drastically from a year ago.
Junior Ben Ortiz recorded a 14-12 record as a first-year starter, while senior Jason Griego was 21-19 and senior Cameron Fritz 23-14 at 195.
“This was a relatively inexperienced group and I thought they did a great job improving,” Ullyott said. “First year Mike Renteria (junior) also filled in well with a 4-4 record.”
Some up-and-comers who gained valuable mat time include seventh grader Payton Jackson at 120 pounds, who finished 14-21, and eighth grader Marcus Jasken at 113-120 with a 10-14 mark.
Sophomore Logan Twigg also finished well at the end of the season at 132 pounds, along with utility man sophomore Bryant Swiers, who went 6-5.
The Lakers overcame some odds due to injury, as they lost valuable wrestlers in junior Luke Eggebraaten, Alex Weber, Justin Reineccius and losing Bronson Spies to his family moving to Colorado.
“We lost a lot of depth with those guys, so that was a testament to our team to overcome those losses,” Ullyott said.
The Lakers potentially will be a favorite for the section title, with a few “ifs”.
“Our success will be determined on how hard the guys work in the offseason,” Ullyott added. “Our development really came a long ways this year, but they need to keep it going over the offseason.”