BY MICHAEL SMITH
The MSUM wrestling team is attempting to salvage a season in which they have been plagued with key injuries.
â€œWe have kind of been up and down this season,â€ said second year head coach Kris Nelson. â€œWe have had to put some backups in because of injuries the second part of the year.â€
The Dragons wrap up the 2011 regular season with a dual meet against Upper Iowa on Thursday in Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse.
The Peacocks defeated the Dragons 41-0 in their only meeting last season.
â€œHopefully the guys remember that and they are ready to go,â€ Nelson said. â€œThat would be a huge win for us. It is going to be a tough order but the guys are ready to go.â€
Despite the injuries the team faced this season, the Dragon grapplers are 7-8 on the year.
â€œWe have a tough schedule, which is a good thing,â€ Nelson said. â€œOur conference is probably the most difficult part, it will prepare us for the regional tournament.â€
Senior Brady Schneeberger, regional champ from a year ago, has been battling a high-ankle sprain and has missed a good portion of this year.
â€œWe probably could have won a couple more duals if we would have had him in there but that is the nature of the sport,â€ Nelson said.
Schneeberger will try to compete against Upper Iowa on Thursday but if he is unable, the team will hold him out until regionals.
After a three-match losing streak, the Dragons have turned it around to win the last three.
â€œThose three teams, compared to the three loses before, werenâ€™t as tough,â€ Nelson said. â€œThose three wins hopefully gave
(the team) a little boost of confidence. I hope their spirits are high and they take that into the Upper Iowa dual.â€
The Dragons are also dealing with the loss of Derek Bomstad, a returning All-American, who left the team this season.
â€œWe started off the year with quite a bit of guys in the room, about a 30-man roster,â€ Nelson said. â€œSome guys have decided not to stick with it and we donâ€™t have a lot of depth. When someone goes down we really struggle to find somebody to replace them.â€
The team has 10 days after the Upper Iowa dual to prepare for the regional tournament on Feb. 27 in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Each wrestler has their own way of getting ready for big matches.
â€œYouâ€™ve got to be looking at those 10 days as your training camp,â€ Nelson said. â€œSome guys like to cut it back and other guys like to pick it up. As coaches we need to understand each individual.â€
Nelson looks to improve on last yearâ€™s successful regional tournament.
â€œLast year we had a good regional,â€ Nelson said. â€œYou always want to improve on last yearâ€™s performance. When (the tournament) is finished, I hope the guys have no regrets about how they wrestled. â€
To read more from this writer, view his blog at smithmi.blogspot.com