Youth dominate mat with Hansen at the helm

by Olu Rotibi

With a youthful team and a new coach in the program, the Simpson men’s wrestling team has an excellent future on the horizon.

Youth summarized the Storm last season, which had a roster consisted of 15 freshman and sophomores and only one senior. The Storm finished with a record of 6-14 as a team and also saw Clint Manny who was the head coach of that program resign after five seasons going 12-53.

Former NCAA Division III national champion and Division I assistant Nate Hansen was named head coach on May 29. Hansen was a former two-time NCAA Division III All-American and the 2007 National Champion at 125 pounds for Luther College.

Hansen plans to start several freshmen this season and believes progress will help solidify their lineup.

“Several of our underclassmen will probably progress at different rates,” said Hansen. “We will get a chance to see these young guys compete in the first open tournament.”

Hansen also believes there are a handful of guys who are hungry to qualify for the national tournament.

“There were a handful of guys who were on the brink of reaching the national tournament last season,” said Hansen. “I can see that they are hungry and they want to make that happen this year.”

New assistant coach Matt Hansen (brother of head coach Nate Hansen) who comes from Hastings College where he was an assistant from 2008-2012 has seen in the significant improvement from the players.

“From the time that we’ve been here everyone has been improving,” said assistant coach Matt Hansen. “The freshmen have been improving as well, which will be important especially in this tough conference.”

With very limited experience on paper the Storm will look upon the upperclassmen for leadership. Senior Jeff Sands has high aspirations this season and hopes his work during the summer will pay off this upcoming season.

“For myself anything less than going to nationals is a failure,” said Sands. “I’ve been close before and I’ve experienced my fair share of setbacks but this is the year I need to start making a mark. I’ve been grinding and working to get better every day.”

The road to the national tournament is now difficult from the previous years. With the rules changing in NCAA Division III wrestling, this is the first year you can only advance to the national tournament with at least getting a wrestler to place top three in the regional tournament. In the past the Iowa Conference was able to send the top three wrestlers and additional wrestlers.

Nevertheless, Coach Nate Hansen believes his players have a legitimate shot at placing top three this season.

“It’s a little bit tougher to qualify this year but I believe with the right attitude that the guys can be on pace to make it happen,” said Hansen. “If our guys place top three in our regional, they will have a great chance at becoming an all-American.”

The Storm begin their season Oct. 27 with a “Meet The Team” Intersquad meeting. Play is set to begin at 9 a.m.