North wrestling on the rise

Not that many years ago, the North High School wrestling team suffered through a one-win season. After that tough year, head coach Denver Moeller and his staff went to work trying to change the fortunes of the program.

What they came up with was a way to get kids interested in high school wrestling before they were in high school. Moeller, a teacher and athletic director at John Glenn Middle School in Maplewood, decided that was a good place to start.

A few of North’s assistant coaches are also teachers at John Glenn, and they made some changes with the middle school wrestling program.

Kids in the program are weight certified and get some practice time with the high school team. Some even get to wrestle in some junior varsity matches.

Moeller said it has done wonders for the number of kids who come out for wrestling and for retention.

“It’s making a big difference,” said Moeller, who is in his 11th season as North’s head coach. “The dedication level is different. The feeling in the wrestling room is different, and we’re getting more and more kids out.”

The wrestlers who were a part of the first year of the new middle school program are now sophomores and juniors on the high school team.

“It’s like giving them that carrot and once they eat it, they can’t get enough of it,” Moeller said.

Moeller said the middle school program has had around 40 kids out each season the last few years, while other programs in the metro are lucky to get 20.

It also appears that the high school team is benefitting in terms of wins and losses. Two years ago, the Polars won six matches and last year that number jumped up to 12. Moeller has a goal of .500 or better this season.

North returns a half-dozen letter winners from last season and also had a highly-ranked heavyweight move into the district.

Junior Corey Guenther, who wrestled at St. Paul Como Park, qualified for state last season and went 5-0 for the Polars in the first weekend of this season. Guenther is ranked fifth in the state in the Class AAA heavyweight weight class.

Another wrestler to watch this season is sophomore Noah Hurley, who finished fourth at sections last season and took second place at the Fridley tournament on Dec. 3. Senior Fisayo Oduyemi is in his second season of wrestling and junior Irving Sereno could also have a solid season.

North opened the season at a quadrangular meet at St. Paul Harding on Dec. 1 and won all three of its matches. The Polars downed St. Paul Humboldt, Minneapolis Henry and the host Knights.

On Dec. 3 at the Fridley tournament, North had three wrestlers place in the top six.

Up next for North is a tournament at Chisago Lakes High School in Lindstrom on Dec. 16. The Polars then host Simley in a Metro East Conference dual on Dec 21 and host a six-team dual event on Dec. 29 during Christmas break.

 

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.

 

2016-17 North High School wrestling schedule

Dec. 1 at St. Paul harding quadrangular   5 p.m.

Dec. 3 at Fridley tournament   8:15 a.m.

Dec. 8 at St. Thomas Academy triangular    5 p.m.

Dec. 16 at Chisago Lakes tournament   4 p.m.

Dec. 21 vs. Simley   4 p.m.

Dec. 29 Home duals event   9:30 a.m.

Jan. 5 at South St. Paul quadrangular   5 p.m.

Jan. 7 at Hopkins tournament   9 a.m.

Jan. 12 vs. Hastings   5 p.m.

Jan. 21 Home tournament   9:30 a.m.

Jan. 26 vs. Mahtomedi   7 p.m.

Jan. 27 Home quadrangular   5 p.m.

Jan. 28 at South St. Paul tournament   10 a.m.

Feb. 3 at White Bear Lake triangular    4 p.m

Feb. 9 Home triangular   TBA

Feb. 17 Section 4AAA team at home   TBA

Feb. 24 Section 4AAA individuals at Stillwater  TBA

Feb. 25 Section 4AAA individuals at Stillwater  TBA

 

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