Don’t worry, Foley fans. Lyle Freudenberg is expecting his team to prevail once against at the Tom Keating Memorial Tournament.
But the long-time Foley head wrestling coach is trying to temper the expectations a bit. The Falcons are ranked third in the state in Class 2A and are deserving of the rating, Freudenberg said. It’s just the tournament, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, will be challenging and Foley is still tinkering with the lineup for a variety of reasons.
“We’re certainly a different team than we have been the last couple of years,” Freudenberg said.
The 16-team field includes Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, the No. 2-ranked team in Class A, according to The Guillotine, a state-wide amateur wrestling media entity.
ACGC skipped last year but returns to a tournament that includes St. Cloud Apollo, Holdingford, Sauk Rapids, Monticello, Buffalo, Park Center and Chaska, among others. There will be loads of state-ranked wrestlers competing at the Foley Fieldhouse, which has six mats for competition.
The champonship round is expected to start at about 4 p.m. for the Keating, named after the former Foley wrestling coach who died in a car accident in 2006.
The Falcons lost 14 seniors that were part of one of the most successful runs in program history, both team-wise and individually.
But it’s not like the cupboard’s bare. At Foley, it never really is, which is a credit to Freudenberg and his program.
The Falcons have five state-ranked wrestlers: Tyler Funk (No. 3 in Class 2A 120 pounds), Tristan Manderfeld (No. 4 at 126), Keith Thell (No. 5 at 132), Carter Nielsen (No. 9 at 138) and Mitch Keeler (No. 10 at 285).
“We’re still not at full strength,” Freudenberg said.
Manderfeld is nursing a bad back. Cameron Svihla, a 195-pound senior, has a family commitment and won’t wrestle Saturday. Keeler is moving down a weight.
Other Foley wrestlers are on the cusp of state ranking. Brandon Halverson, who wrestles at 145 or 152, is 11-3. Tyler Midas is coming off a strong performance at the Rumble on the Red in Moorhead, where he took fifth at 182.
The wrestling room remains crowded and the talent is deep. There are 37 wrestlers out in grades 9-12, and another 30 or so out in the seventh and eighth grades. Foley’s junior varsity won its division of the Rumble on the Red, which is one of the most prestigious meets in the Upper Midwest.
While the future looks bright, Freudenberg isn’t exactly sure how much longer he will be a part of it. This season, for the first time, he is listed as a co-head coach with longtime assistant Scott Gorecki. Freudenberg is close to retiring as a teacher, though he isn’t sure when. It could be in a year, maybe longer.
He is in his 30th year as the Falcons’ head coach.
“That’s long enough, isn’t it?” Freudenberg asked.
Probably not, coach.