Hornet wrestling opens with heavy hearts
There will be more on the minds of the Frazee wrestling team members than just their defense of the Hornets' Class 1A state championship this season.
The season started out with a black cloud over the Hornet wrestling team, as one of their top wrestlers -- junior Myrel Schermerhorn -- was involved in a tragic car accident, which resulted in serious injuries.
Schermerhorn is now in a fight for his life, as he is recovering in a Fargo hospital, while his teammates will start the 2011-12 season with heavy hearts.
"It was definitely a hard way to start out the season," said Frazee head coach John Barlund. "The first couple of days of practice were very tough.
"Unfortunately, tragedy happens and you have to keep moving forward, while we keep Myrel in our hearts and thoughts."
Schermerhorn entered the season ranked No. 9 at 145 pounds, but now there obviously are more important thoughts on his teammates' minds.
"The first couple of days, we had some time to reflect on ourselves and regroup our thoughts," Barlund said.
"The inspiration to do well for him is there, but we are still dealing with the shock and grief of the ordeal."
While Schermerhorn will not be left out of his teammates' thoughts and prayers, getting back on the mat is a healthy way to cope with the unfortunate accident.
The Hornets, who were Class 1A Co-Champions with Jackson County Central, were voted as the No. 2 team, behind the Huskies, in the preseason polls.
The Hornets have six wrestlers ranked in the top 10 of their respective weight divisions, including Schermerhorn's slot at 145.
But now it's time to start over for the Hornets, who were able to complete their quest at the top of the mountain last year.
"It takes a lot of energy and effort to get where we were last year, it was rewarding, but now we have to start over," Barlund said.
"These kids know there are a lot of guys gone from last year's team, so there will be a different plan this season."
The Hornets are also transitioning to the new weight classes, which start this season.
The new weight classes include an added division in the heavier weights.
"I think everyone will have a hard time filling their upper weights, not just us," Barlund said.
The strength of the Hornets will once again be depth and strong lower weight classes.
Byron Byers will be a spark at 106 pounds, while No. 6 ranked freshman Isaac Schermerhorn will be strong at 113 pounds.
"Austin Skillings can also wrestle at 113-120," Barlund added.
At 126 pounds, Jordan Ketter returns as a section champion, while Hunter Sorenson will try and crack the varsity lineup at 130 after wrestling to the ninth grade state meet in 2011.
Other top-ranked Hornets include No. 2 ranked Bruce Lemon, who will be a force at 138, after finishing sixth in state last season, and senior Rij Koehnen, who returns as the No. 4 ranked 152-pounder.
Senior Cody Piper also will be a vital component to the heavier weights as the No. 8 ranked 160-pounder, even though he will start the season with a shoulder injury.
Senior Rick Brandt caps the state-ranked Hornets as No. 5 at 220.
For the majority of the Hornets, though, they have wrestled in some big matches and will not be awestruck when they get to that point this season.
"They guys are confident in themselves and they believe they can get back to that position from last year," Barlund said.
"We are starting out with five guys injured, so we need to get healthy and get them back on the mat."
For now, putting effort into defending their 2010 Class 1A state championship has enabled the Frazee wrestling team to focus their energies on a good cause, while still keeping their fallen teammate in their hearts and minds.