Albert Lea matmen compete in national tournament

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 3, 2002

With more than 4,000 competitors from 46 states and Puerto Rico, it was billed as the largest tournament in the history of wrestling.

And Albert Lea was represented quite well.

Four local boys qualified for the 32nd Annual Asics/Vaughan Junior/18th Annual Cadet National Wrestling Championship at the Fargo Dome in Fargo, N.D., and two came home All-Americans.

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The highest honors went to Chris Hable, who brought home a bronze medal for placing third in the Cadet (15 and 16-year-old) Greco-Roman heavyweight division. There were 50 wrestlers in his bracket.

Josh Hansen, 105 pounds, earned All-American recognition for the second year in a row in the Junior division for 17 and 18-year-olds, placing eighth in Freestyle.

Also competing at the Cadet level were Nate Goodnature at 135 pounds in Freestyle and Zach Hansen at 91 pounds in Greco-Roman and Freestyle.

In order to participate, the four were required to attend an intense training camp, held at Minnesota State-Mankato for Freestyle and Augsburg College for Greco-Roman, and then be selected to represent Minnesota in the national tournament.

“This is quite the tournament,” said Albert Lea High School varsity wrestling coach Larry Goodnature. “Each state can bring up to four wrestlers in each weight class.”

Goodnature feels the experience can help bring continued success for his varsity squad.

“When these kids get a chance to do this, it’s definitely a boost for their high school season because they’re competing against elite wrestlers from around the country,” said the coach. “It definitely gives them some confidence.”

And simply competing in the Fargo Dome is an experience.

“They have 24 mats laid out,” said Goodnature. “These guys won’t wrestle in a tournament any bigger than that in their entire high school career. You get to the state tournament (at the Xcel Energy Center), they’ve only got eight mats, so when they do get to a big tournament, like state, they can tell themselves they’ve already wrestled in a much bigger tournament than this.”

Goodnature said Josh Hansen is an excellent example of how success in the summer can carry over into the high school season.

“Josh was second (in the nation) in Freestyle and third in Greco-Roman last year and he went on to become a state high school champion,” said Goodnature. “Placing third in the nation like that will definitely help Chris out. With Nate and Zach, it’s another step forward and it will definitely help them in the long run.”