Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019

Hornet wrestlers finish strong season 25-3

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Dan Stott wins the 160-pound consolation match Feb. 19 to finish third in the class 1A IHSA State Wrestling Tournament. For more wrestling coverage, see page 22./Photo by Griffin Larkin

The season ended for Harvard Hornet wrestling Feb. 22 when it lost 41-27 to Sterling Newman in the dual meet sectional tournament in Morrison. The Hornets finished 25-3, winning the regional tournament for the 24th consecutive time and took second in the Big Northern conference.

Athletic director Scott Striegel was extremely impressed with the wrestling team’s performance.

“They did a tremendous job throughout the year,” Striegel said. “They are very disciplined. They work together as a squad. They are a fun group to watch. They compete night in and night out.”

Head coach Tim Haak was pleased with the growth he saw from his team.

“We had a very successful season again,” Haak said. “Our kids worked hard in the off season to prepare, and we made big strides. I think we always look at that as coaches — did we take individuals and make a better team and raise the bar? Our kids have done that.”

The Hornet wrestlers are an extremely young team, with Dillon Cowan as the only senior. Further, the junior varsity team went 19-1 this year, so the future looks extremely bright.

Freshmen Anthony Luis, 103 pounds, and Adam Friemund, 285 pounds, were both on the varsity squad and both made it to the sectional tournament. Friedman was the first Hornet freshman to wrestle at 285 pounds.

“We really had some young kids make some major strides this year,” Haak said. “The improvement those two made were incredible.”

“You can see the growth,” said Striegel. “Last year they were very young. This year they took some strides and got better. Next year, were going to bust some doors down. It’s ingrained in those kids. Anytime they step on the mat, they are expected to win. Coach Haak has built a program he can be proud of; a program the community can be proud of.”

The Hornets sent three wrestlers to the individual state tournament: Chance Shelton, 119 pounds; Nathan Cowan, 152 pounds; and Dan Stott, 160 pounds.

Stott finished third in state for the second consecutive year, and he knows exactly what he wants to do next year. “I want to win state and go undefeated,” Stott said. “I don’t believe there has been a Harvard wrestler to go undefeated.”

Mike Vest from the Illinois Matmen, a provider of comprehensive wrestling coverage in Illinois, confirmed no Hornet wrestler has ever gone undefeated.

When talking about the keys to his team’s success this year, Haak discussed three things — consistency, unselfishness and his captains.

“We were consistent,” Haak said. “I called us plodders. We just kept improving a little bit every week. We didn’t take any big jumps. We just kept getting gradually better.”

“We had a very unselfish group,” Haak continued. “They go down a weight or bump up a weight – whatever they needed to do for the team. I think that was a key to our success.”

The captains this year were Dillon Cowan, Brad Lovell, Cody Melson and Dan Stott.

“Our captains did a great job of leading the team,” Haak said. “They were the ones who corralled the guys and got everyone going.”

Haak knows success does not necessarily translate to success the next year.

“In wrestling, you might have a lot of kids back, but you’ve got to get them in their right weights,” Haak said. “In wrestling, if you have five 140 pounders, it’s hard to move them all.”

One of hardest parts of any season, according to Haak, is the end.

“This was a great group,” Haak said. “They were so enjoyable to be around. You hate it when the season comes to an end. We had a lot of great personalities on this team and we are going to miss being around them.”