Seven wrestlers place at sections

The Forest Lake wrestling team closed its season two weeks ago at the individual section tournament in Coon Rapids.

Junior James Pleski came away with first place at 138 pounds, while six other Rangers placed by finishing in the top six at the Section 7AAA showing.

Sophomore Nic Norem placed fifth at 152 pounds, defeating Lucas Phelps of St. Francis and Allen Jensen of Andover along the way.

Head coach Joe Kunshier said he was proud of how Norem fought, especially coming off an illness not long before sections.

“Nic had a good tournament after a long week,” Kunshier said. “He wrestled tough, and it was nice to see him be able to take some of the pressure off himself and just perform.”

Five Rangers placed sixth on the day, including seniors Luke Niemczyk, Kyle Winberg and Will Rivard, who finished only his second season of wrestling.

At 170 pounds, Niemczyk was in the same weight class as No. 2 Corey Parsons of Andover, while Winberg faced three state-ranked wrestlers at 195 pounds. Both seniors closed the season with winning records, at 25-17 and 18-9, respectively.

Kunshier said he will miss both Rangers.

“Kyle and Luke are two of the best leaders we’ve ever had in this program,” Kunshier said. “They have great foresight and work ethic to get things done the first time it is asked of them.”

Eighth-grader Tanner Wiese and junior Trevor Wiese also placed sixth at 126 pounds and 132 pounds.

Overall, Kunshier said he believes the program is moving in the right direction.

“We had a lot of place-winners in the toughest section in the state,” he said. “It’s a building process, and we saw some kids have success and got some impressive compliments from other coaches saying we are improving along the way.”

With his first season as head coach under his belt, Kunshier said he will strive to improve alongside the athletes.

“It’s a learning experience, but once that path is plowed, that path gets easier,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot. It’s like I tell the kid, ‘You go out and try not to get out-wrestled and I’ll go out and try not to get out-coached.’ We’ll figure this out together.”