Amo headlines strong returning core that will lead wrestling team in 2016
The Augustana wrestling team has lofty goals for the 2016-17 season and has the preseason rankings to validate those aspirations.
The Vikings, ranked 16th in the D2Wrestle.com poll are led by junior Aero Amo, who is ranked No. 1 in the 184-pound weight class.
Amo went 1-2 at 184 pounds at the NCAA Championships last season. He finished 33-3 overall and won the Super Region 3 title.
“He’s one of eight returning guys that already have a lot of experience,” Augustana head coach Jason Reitmeier said. “All of the guys, including Amo, shouldn’t have to be told to step up this year.”
Another Viking to watch is senior Michael Lowman, who missed out on the national tournament last season after going 1-2 at the NCAA championships as a sophomore.
Even though Augustana returns several mainstays, there are spots up for grabs.
Reitmeier noted the 157- and 174-pound divisions as spots that are particularly competitive.
Redshirt freshman Bailey Neises and senior Tyler Nation are vying for the nod at 157, while Brent Havlik (senior transfer from the University of Wyoming), redshirt freshman Lukas Poloncic and freshman Hunter Haman are battling at 174.
Reitmeier’s wrestlers think the team has a chance to achieve something special this year.
“We have a lot of big voices and personalities in the locker room,” senior Adrian Lozano said. “From top to bottom, this team has a lot of potential, and we have the chance to be a top five-team in the country by the end of the year.”
One team that will try to impede that goal is Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference foe Saint Cloud State. The two-time defending national champion Huskies come into the year as the No. 1 team in the nation and are the clear favorite to win their sixth-straight NSIC title.
“It’s hard not to mark those meets on the calendar,” Lozano said of a Feb. 16 dual with Saint Cloud State at the Elmen Center. “But we can’t overlook any other team. Keeping our focus on the next team up [on the schedule] is going to be huge for us this season.”
One wrestler has loftier goals for the team.
“Our goal is to be the best team in the country,” senior Mitchell Rechtzigel said. “We believe that we can beat anybody in the country.”
Augustana kicks off its season at the Daktronics Open, Nov. 6 in Brookings.