The Augustana wrestling team begins the 2017-2018 season with the intention of getting back to where it left off last season—the Division II National Championship.
Head coach Jason Reitmeier and associate head coach Tom Meester return 20 letterwinners from last season, where they finished 12-7 in duals (6-2 NSIC) and placed third in the conference. The Vikings are ranked 23rd in the preseason National Wrestling Coaches’ Association rankings, and the NSIC preseason poll placed Augustana in third.
Returning from last year’s squad are national qualifiers, senior Aero Amo and sophomore Brandon Carroll.
Amo placed fifth at last season’s NCAA Championships at 184 pounds after compiling a 38-9 record and winning the Super Region 3 Championship. The All-American is ranked third in the preseason NWCA poll.
“We expect him to do what he has been doing,” Meester said. “He is not the most vocal guy, but he works hard and leads by living a clean life, where everything he does directly represents why he is such a good wrestler. We expect him to be contending for a national title like he did last year.”
Carroll will look to contend for his own national title after qualifying for Nationals last year as a true freshman, the first for the Vikings since 2003. Carroll was named the
Super Region 3 Freshman of the Year after placing second at the Super Region Three Championship and compiling a 20-13 record at 125 pounds. Carroll is ranked 9th in the preseason NWCA poll.
“We just expect him to be the same person, where he’s never out of a match because he’s dangerous and can be down big and go big and win —just like that,” Meester said.
The Vikings’ preseason has shown a team that is full of depth and potential—potential to be one of the top teams in Division II, sophomore Ben Kelvington said.
“We are hoping to win the conference and hopefully place high at the national tournament by bringing a lot of guys to nationals,” Carroll said.
To accomplish that sizable task, the Vikings will have to condition to wrestle hard for the entirety of a match, while not forgetting to enjoy the experience along the way, Kelvington said.
“I think that the key to success is to really continue to work towards being able to wrestle to our potential for a full match,” Kelvington said. “I also think that it’s important to enjoy all the hard work that goes into it and to take full advantage of the opportunities as they come.”
The Vikings are on the right track with their strong performances at the first two meets of the year. At the Daktronics Open, five wrestlers placed for the Vikings, led by junior Clayton Wahlstrom’s third place finish. At the DWU Open, the Vikings had six placers, highlighted by Carroll’s second place finish.
The Vikings will be back in action on December 3 for the South Dakota showcase.