A.L. hires new wrestling coach

Published 9:12 pm Monday, November 6, 2017

For the past five years, Paul Durbahn has been by the side of legendary Albert Lea wrestling coach Larry Goodnature. Now, after all those years of learning, Durbahn will take over as the head of the program.

Durbahn, a math teacher at Albert Lea High School, has some big shoes to fill as the team gears up for the season. The Tigers have been section runner-up for the past two years and section champions the two years before that, including a state runner-up finish in 2015.

Rather than feeling a lot of pressure before the season, Durbahn said he feels more excitement.

Albert Lea’s Nic Cantu will return for his junior season after placing third at the state tournament just a season ago. Cantu is one of the five returning state qualifiers on the team this year. – Jarrod Peterson/Albert Lea Tribune

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“We’ll be successful, Larry’s not leaving the cupboards empty,” he said. “Everybody’s got expectations for this team, including myself, and I feel confident that were going to meet them. We’re ready to roll and we’re all excited to get started.”

Durbahn said he doesn’t plan on changing much of what Goodnature had left behind. He said Goodnature had set up a great program and there wasn’t anything that he thought needed major change.

One thing that has changed since last year is the personnel on the mat. 

Albert Lea lost six seniors from last year, including three-time state champion Garrett Aldrich. However, they will have a handful of returning role players.

Seniors Gavin Ignaszewski and Jake Johnsrud each qualified for state in 2017. Juniors Nic Cantu and Brody Nielson both took home third-place finishes and junior Zach Glazier returns as a state runner-up.

Durbahn talked about who he expects to step up and take on the leadership roles.

“What’s impressive to me is how much these younger guys are transforming into those roles,” he said. “They have really filled those gaps where needed. Yes, you lose some seniors, but then you just fill with those that are up and coming. Our kids have taken that role on well.”

Although Drbahn has high expectations and goals for the team and individuals on the mat, he’s got a plan for guiding the kids off the mat as well.

“I want to shape these kids into responsible men that carry themselves with integrity,” Durbahn said. “I want them to exhibit positive behaviors and characteristics and make good choices. That’s going to be a major theme and part of my goals as a coach moving forward.”

The Tigers will get their season started in just under a month when they travel to Hastings on Dec. 2.

About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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