Union of LP-A, Hawley leads to wrestling success
The new name for the wrestling co-op between Lake Park-Audubon and Hawley -- United Clay Becker -- was more than appropriate after a successful first season.
After a pair of seasons in which produced just a few wins between LP-A and Hawley two years ago, the UCB Badgers posted an impressive 8-8 mark this season.
Not only did the team field an improved record, two wrestlers also made the state Class 2A meet this past weekend.
Fittingly so, the state qualifiers were from each town of Hawley and LP-A.
Junior Sam Klingfus (119 pounds) of Hawley and eighth grader Mason Swegarden (103) of LP-A made the state tournament, after each wrestled to runner-up positions in the Section 8-2A tourney.
The simple fact that there were more wrestlers proved to be an improvement in the practice room and during meets.
The state duo agrees the co-op between the two wrestling teams worked out for the best.
"It was an advantage, because we had more guys in practice and practicing against Sam (Klingfus) and Logan Gage helped me," Swegarden said.
Having a full squad in most duels was also a motivating factor for the wrestlers.
Instead of entering a meet down by 30-plus points because of the inability to fill all their weights, the Badgers filled their weights, thus giving them at least a fighting chance each night.
"Having 14 teammates instead of just a few is nice," Klingfus said. "Having practice partners was big and the duels were much better when we had a full team."
UCB head coach Travis Nagel saw the obvious advantages of combining the two teams, one being more bodies to work with and two seeing meaningful matches during duels.
"Just the fact of having more kids in the practice room and a full team was an entire new game for us," said Nagel, who was LP-A's head coach the previous few seasons. "We're still not at that stage where we're going to jump right in with a Frazee or Perham, but it's a good start.
"Having more wrestlers just helps with the intensity."
With the co-op also came a bump up from Class 1A to Class 2A, since both school populations are added together.
But the move up wasn't necessarily more difficult, since LP-A and Hawley resided in the same section as Frazee, Barnesville and Badger/Greenbush-Middle River.
"Wrestling in Class 1A was tough and I wasn't familiar with the Class 2A teams, since we were still wrestling our old schedule," Swegarden said.
Klingfus, who finished third in the Section 8-1A for two straight years, before taking second and a state berth this season in Class 2A, said the bump up to a larger school section didn't affect him.
"I still wanted state, so it wasn't a big deal," the Badger grappler said.
So in the case of United Clay Becker, bigger was better.