Berhow embodies NGU attitude

Published 8:44am Thursday, March 17, 2011

Column: Second Thoughts

Every young man who passes through the Albert Lea wrestling program is familiar was the acronym NGU, or Never Give Up.

It’s written on flyers and on the backs of T-shirts, and is a motto that’s easy to remember but harder to follow.

But not for everyone.

Over the course of the Albert Lea wrestling team’s championship-winning season this year, the NGU attitude was exemplified often, notably in the team’s section-championship win over Owatonna on Feb. 19.

In that match, Albert Lea’s 112-pounder Garrett Wangsness beat Nick Scheffert in triple overtime, giving 171-pounder Carter Kortan a reason to wrestle later in the match on a torn ACL. Neither wrestler gave up and those two matches alone were a major reason why Albert Lea advanced to the state tournament.

Albert Lea coach Larry Goodnature teaches his wrestlers to never give up and apparently old habits die hard.

Just ask Ben Berhow.

Berhow, a 2006 graduate of Albert Lea High School and state champion his senior year, spent three seasons as the University of Minnesota wrestling team’s starting heavyweight.

After a string of injuries his senior year at Minnesota, Berhow lost his starting spot to redshirt freshman Tony Nelson. Given the option of having surgery or gut out the season as the backup heavyweight, Berhow decided to keep wrestling.

He didn’t give up and on Jan. 30, with Nelson out with a bacterial infection, Berhow was given the opportunity to wrestle one last match against Wisconsin in front of more than 5,000 people.

He won in the final seconds on a takedown — true NGU spirit.

Berhow credited his high school coaches for instilling that attitude in him years earlier.

“Goodnature taught me a lot of about being tough and sacrificing for the team,” Berhow said. “Our coaching staff in Albert Lea is one of the finest in the state, even the nation.”

Berhow said Goodnature text messaged him after his career-ending win against Wisconsin and told him he’s always held his head high.

“That was very motivational coming from Larry (Goodnature),” Berhow said. “He’s a great coach and I always enjoy hearing from him.”

Andrew Dyrdal’s column appears every Thursday in the Tribune.