DL's young roster gains some seasoning
Although the Detroit Lakes wrestling team posted an 11-10 dual record over the course of the 2011-12 season, that mark easily could have been a much better one, if not for some untimely injuries.
The lineup for the Lakers was also a bit lopsided, with the front half from 106 pounds to 160 holding the majority of the experience.
Above 160, the Lakers were very young and inexperienced, yet had to go up against the opponents' most seasoned wrestlers.
"From 170 on up, no one on the team had more than one year of varsity experience," said DL head coach Rob Ullyott.
"Ben Gailfus, one of our senior captains, had the most with nearly three years of experience, but he was injured early and that eliminated that."
The Lakers lost a host of narrow matches, after building double-digit leads from 106 to 160.
But it wasn't due to a lack of effort, but instead just a lack of seasoned wrestlers.
"Those kids in our upper-weights worked their butts off and by the end of the season, they were greatly improved," Ullyott said.
The Lakers were stout up top, starting with senior Gabe Foltz, who finished 39-4 and a state entrant for the second straight year.
Foltz was very diverse with his wrestling, after registering 43 matches during the season, while only competing in about 10 at his original 106-pound weight.
"Gabe wrestled at 112 or 119 all season or wherever the team needed him," the DL coach said. "He is a great overall model to our younger wrestlers."
Foltz finished as the fifth-overall Laker in wins with 120 and earned First Team All-Academic honors in the state.
Surrounding Foltz were freshman Luke Payne (15-10) at 113 and junior Zach Baker (34-10) at 132, which usually put DL up in duals early.
Both were state qualifiers and will be back next year to help solidify the top of the roster.
"We had very valuable experience up top and our expectations were a little higher," Ullyott said. "Out of the 24 wrestlers who wrestled on varsity, we will return 21 of them."
The other two seniors, along with Foltz, were 160-pounder Travis Kienitz and 195-pounder Gailfus.
Both suffered early-season injuries, with Kienitz coming back a little after midseason and Gailfus returning for the section team tournament.
"Ben is a very dedicated individual who rehabbed all season to get back and help the team in the sections," Ullyott said. "His injury changed the whole complexion of the team, he was a big loss.
"Travis went in and worked hard and brought a lot of enthusiasm in the practice room. It's tough coming back from injury after missing the front half of the season."
Another leader in wins was 138-pound freshman Parker Jackson, who finished 36-3 and just one win shy of his second state tournament.
The Lakers did field some team success, with their first Mid-State Conference championship in seven years, as well as the DL ninth grade team winning their section and sending five to the state meet in Boyd Bradbury, Payne, Tyler Bellefeuille, James Huwe and Spies.
DL also earned a Gold All-State Academic Award for their team GPA of 3.53, the first time that has ever happened for a Laker wrestling team.
The 2011-12 Detroit Lakes wrestling team stats -- Dual record: 11-10.
Individual stats (W-L-WGT): James Huwe 20-15-285; Tyler Bellefeuille 9-2-106; Nathan Francis 22-15-120; Parker Jackson 36-3-138; Evan Maly 1-0-280; Luke Payne 15-10-113; Bronson Spies 23-5-106; Logan Twigg 2-6-126; Brandon Dahring 19-15-145; Luke Eggebraaten 2-3-145; Jeff Gailfus 2-9-152; Cole Hegg 0-6-160; Jarett Nosal 20-16-152; Ben Ortiz 0-4-152; Kirby Siewert 10-16-220; Alex Webber 4-7-160; Zach Baker 34-10-132; Cameron Fritz 11-26-195; Jason Griego 9-18-182; Jack Labare 2-1-106; Justin reineccius 3-6-138; Gabe Foltz 39-4-106; Ben Gailfus 3-4-195; Travis Kienitz 6-7-160.
Mid-State All-Conference: Bronson Spies, Gabe Foltz, Zach Baker, Parker Jackson, Brandon Dahring...Honorable Mentioned: Nathan Francis, Jarett Nosal, Travis Kienitz, James Huwe).
Team Gold All-Academic with 3.53 GPA.