Albert Lea wrestlers earn academic state championship

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 14, 2003

Everybody knows you need to be tough in order to be a championship wrestler.

The Albert Lea Tigers are showing it also helps to be smart.

The Tigers, under Big Nine Coach of the Year Larry Goodnature, had another successful season on the mat, where they were rated as high as No. 5 in the state in Class AAA. But it was in the classroom they achieved something truly remarkable. The Tigers won the 2002-03 academic state championship with the highest grade point average in the history of the award.

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The Tigers, who also won the academic state crown in 1998 and 1999, had a combined GPA of 3.865 this past season. Members of the squad include Jared Butler, Dustin Eggum, Eric Elleby, Adam Elseth, Derek Goodnature, Nate Goodnature, Chris Hable, Alex Hansen, Josh Hansen, Zach Hansen, Mike Honeycutt, Brandon Klukow and Adam Morreim.

Coach Goodnature and the Tigers received the award before 1,250 wrestlers, parents and coaches at the brunch at the St. Paul Radisson on the final day of this year’s state tournament.

&uot;The school district, community, coaching staff and wrestlers should be very proud of this award,&uot; said Goodnature, who noted that Minnesota State High School League research has proven that athletes get better grades.

&uot;Our wrestling team is a great example of this,&uot; said Goodnature. &uot;In the past six years, we have never been below a 3.5 GPA as a team, and there is a direct correlation between the success we have on the mat and the success they have in the classroom.&uot;

According to Goodnature, lessons learned in the wrestling room carry over to school rooms.

&uot;Wrestling teaches you self-discipline, responsibility and self-pride, which are all attributes you need in the classroom,&uot; said Goodnature. &uot;In wrestling, we need to not only work extremely hard in the practice room but we need to eat right and control our weight. Every time we compete, we need to weigh-in for competition, and that takes a lot of self-discipline and sacrifices that a of us take for granted. Being in an individual sport, having to prepare yourself for competition, you need that self-pride and responsibility the same as in the classroom getting your homework done and assignments turned in on time.&uot;