A collision with a teammate knocked some sense into Luther’s Kyle Windquist.
He paid a price, however, it paid dividends.
Windquist missed most of the season due to issues from a concussion, but made the most of the short time back by qualifying for the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships on Friday and Saturday at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. Action begins at 11 a.m. on Friday.
The senior 141-pounder spent most of the season severely limited in what he could do, because of lingering effects after bumping heads with a teammate in practice. Windquist took advantage of the opportunity.
“If anything, it just focused me more,” Windquist said. “It gave me time to do some mental training, which I think is the most important part of wrestling.”
The restrictions just weren’t on the mat. He couldn’t drill or wrestle live. Windquist couldn’t lift or push himself too hard. He was even more determined to get in wrestling shape once he was cleared.
“I couldn’t do anything strenuous,” Windquist said. “I did a lot fo stretching and flexing exercises with a lot of deep breathing.
“As soon as I got back in, I hit it twice as hard. I got in extra workouts here and there.”
Windquist enters the tournament with just an 8-5 mark, advancing with a runner-up performance at the Central Region tournament March 2 in Dubuque. Windquist was one win shy of earning all-America status last year, and was focus to return and finish the job. It was his main goal, even when was sidelined.
“It’s a great feeling,” Windquist said. “As soon as nationals was over I was training for the next nationals. In a way, you can only feel so good about it, but the journey is still taking place. It’s a fun process.”
The Norse has six qualifiers, including Evan Obert (133), Garrett Bonte (165), regional champion Jayden DeVilbiss (174), Trent Flegel at 197 and heavyweight Nick Pearch. It is the most they have had since seven in 2009.
“The enthusiasm is higher,” Luther Coach Dave Mitchell said in the school’s video interview previewing the national tournament. “Team-wide everybody feels that excitement having a bunch of guys down there and feeling like if we wrestle our best we can be in the trophy hunt.”
Mitchell said the team has had high expectations and those have not waned. He the team have the numbers and proper mental approach to challenge the top five. The Norse have aggressive and hard-nosed wrestlers capable of accomplishing that feat, according to Mitchell.
“It’s a two-day battle. It’s a dogfight,” he said. “I like our guys in that respect. I think they are going to bring it round-in and round-out.”
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