This will be a particularly busy week for South Dakota wrestlers at the premier summer event in the nation.
Several West River wrestlers are set to take part in the ASICS/Vaughan Junior and Cadet National Championships in Fargo, N.D., beginning Friday. The tournament brings together the best high school wrestlers from around the nation to compete in Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling tournaments.
“We have 19 wrestlers taking part this year, which is on the upper end of average,” USA Wrestling state chairman Ray Ringstmeyer said. “Our results have improved greatly since I have been here starting seven years ago. Last year, we walked away with three guys that placed which was great.”
“This time around I will know how tough the competition is,” he said. “Last year, I didn’t overlook the tournament, but I didn’t think it would be as high-caliber of a tournament as it is.”
Like most top wrestlers, Amo has spent his summer wrestling at various tournaments and camps that he thinks will benefit him.
“I have been training a lot harder this year,” he said.
Amo, who will wrestle at 160 or 171 pounds, said a large amount of the work he has been putting in this summer has not focused on the physical aspect of the sport.
“The most improvement for me has come mental-wise, and realizing with my training that you can always do more,” he said.
Spearfish’s Nate Rotert has already enjoyed a successful summer, winning a national title at the National High School Coaches Association National Wrestling Championship in Virginia Beach, Va., and completing a successful first attempt at freestyle wrestling in Oklahoma last month, but Fargo is just another challenge.
“Honestly, I don’t have too much pressure or expectations,” he said. “After Oklahoma, I am wrestling up to 220 (pounds) so I want to get a feel for that.
“I am pretty confident, but I also know this is the toughest tournament in the nation by far. I am just hoping to place.”
Sturgis’ Morgan Engbrecht, a two-time South Dakota state champion, has made trips to Waterloo, Iowa and Oklahoma for tournaments this summer and has made several trips to Sioux Falls for training sessions.
Making his third trip to Fargo, Engbrecht said he is a fan of freestyle wrestling, which differs from the high school folkstyle season.
“I like it because it breaks it up, because wrestling is one big season,” he said.
Engbrecht, who will wrestle at 119, is focusing on placing after beating some wrestlers who placed during last year’s tournament and narrowly losing to the fifth-place wrestler.
“I just want to get some quality matches,” he said.
“A lot of it depends on the draw and you just never know because you can go one-two-out if you don’t get a very good draw,” Ringstmeyer said.