Emotions run high in wrestling.
The physical nature of the sport demands a certain level of intensity and participants grapple with trying to keep an even keel in dealing with the highs of victory and lows of defeat throughout a season.
Sartell head coach Cody Olson says sophomore Rylee Molitor has a strong mentality few others possess, which has allowed him to navigate the mental roller coaster.
“Losing doesn’t affect him, it’s a quality you don’t see in many kids,” Olson said.
Molitor doesn’t lose much, either.
He’s 18-1 on the season and 72-12 in his career. He’s also ranked No. 1 in Class 3A at 113 pounds.
Molitor’s lone loss this season came Jan. 6 to Bemidji senior Brian Maas.
It was a match in which Molitor, the Sabres’ regular 113-pounder, requested to wrestle up a weight class to face Maas.
Maas is ranked No. 2 in Class 3A at 120. Maas won the match 11-4.
“I knew he was a strong wrestler and I made some mistakes and got put on my back in the third period and gave up five points,” Molitor said. “I’d rather have a loss now than in the state tournament.”
After a defeat like that, it would be understandable to feel frustrated and dejected. Molitor’s reaction was more atypical.
“He asked me to get (Maas’) contact information so he could ask to train with him,” Olson said laughing.
Added Molitor: “I know he’s a great kid and I respect him. I definitely want to train with him this summer.”
Molitor’s approach hasn’t always come easy to him. He started wrestling at a young age when his father, Troy, introduced him to the sport.
“I had trouble losing. As a kid, you don’t always see the big picture,” Molitor said.
As he grew older and began training at the Pinnacle Wrestling School in Shoreview, Molitor’s outlook on wins and losses changed and his passion for the sport grew.
“I love the camaraderie and I love that you choose how good you want to be,” Molitor said.
Pinnacle runs year round, minus an eight-week break between July and August. In the offseason, Molitor makes the trek to Pinnacle three times a week. During the season he cuts it down to once a week.
The change in mentality has made wrestling more enjoyable for Molitor and has made dealing with the successes and failures that come with it a lot easier.
“I joke around with the guys and try to stay relaxed before matches,” Molitor said. “I’m not one to get uptight.”
However, Molitor doesn’t want his laid-back persona to be misconstrued for a lack of focus. His mission for this season is to capture a state championship.
If he does, it will make him the first Sabre to do so.
Senior Jon Pelach, who is the Sabres’ 152-pounder and is 15-6 this season, said he would like to see his teammate take it a step further.
“I’d like to see him be a three-time state champion and go to a big college,” Pelach said.
The two have been friends since Molitor joined the varsity ranks as an eighth-grader and travel to summer tournaments together. Aside from their success, the Sabres’ dual record hasn’t fared very well. Sartell is 1-7 as a team this season.
Nevertheless, Pelach believes the tides can turn in the coming years with Molitor leading the way.
“We do have a lot of talent, I hope he can help get it turned around,” Pelach said.
Until then, the Sabres know they can rely on Molitor’s steadying influence.
“I just tell the guys to concentrate on what you can do to help the team,” Molitor said.
STATE TEAM RANKINGS
Jan. 9 rankings from TheGuillotine.com
1. Apple Valley
2. St. Michael-Albertville
6. St. Francis
7. Coon Rapids
8. Prior Lake
11. Elk River
12. Lakeville South
3. Albert Lea
4. Scott West
6. Annandale/Maple Lake
11. New Prague
12. Watertown-Mayer/Mayer Lutheran
4. Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial Area
7. Jackson County Central
10. West Central Area/Ashby/Evansville
12. Badger/Greenbush-Middle River