The Thor Wrestling Team of Minneota, from their State Freestyle event.

Thor named Wrestling Club of Year

•Also earns state Freestyle, Greco titles; Pesch is Coach of Year

The Thor Wrestling Club was named the Minnesota Club of the Year for the second time in three years recently at the annual MN/USA Banquet in Lakeville. Thor, the Norse God of Thunder, was selected as the club name due to the connection with the Minneota Vikings since the club is based in Minneota.

Thor was also named the Greco and Freestyle State Champions at the banquet. And J.D. Pesch was named Coach of the Year. Brock Buysse and Steve Banks of Minneota, and Eric Rose of Morris are the other coaches.

“It’s an honor to be recognized for the time that goes into (coaching),” Pesch said. “I always think it’s odd that there’s an award for Coach of the Year.”

“It should be ‘Coaches’ of the Year. All of Thor’s coaches put in a lot of time and are very passionate about the sport and our club.”

There are over 90 clubs in Minnesota. “The kids from Southwest Minnesota love competing and placing above the AAA schools across the state,” Pesch noted.

The various awards are announced in the fall based on points accumulated by each club throughout the season and tallied when all national events are completed.

The majority of the points are amassed from the state tournament in May. Additional points are awarded for wrestlers qualifying for state teams and by competing in regional and national events throughout the season.

The Thor Wrestling Club, which just completed its fourth year, is comprised of 90 wrestlers from ages five to 19 from Minneota, Canby, Tyler, United, Pipestone, Marshall, Redwood Falls, Granite Falls, Dawson-Boyd, Madison, Hancock and Morris. “We care about any wrestlers who join our club, no matter where they are from,” Pesch insisted.

“Once the high school season ends and kids sign up for Thor, we are all one team.”

Thor also gets assistance from Dayna Johnson of Dawson-Boyd with organizing, ordering, travel arrangements, and running the Thor Facebook page.

Dan “Peanuts” Kloos also assists with traveling, results, and individual registrations. In its first year, Thor had 54 wrestlers; 32 of them from Minneota.

In 2017, the club grew to 72 wrestlers and collected its first Club of the Year honors, while also being named the Greco State Champions (four individual state champions), as well as coming in third in Freestyle (four individual champions).

A season ago, Thor had 103 wrestlers and the club was named the Freestyle State Champions.

“The older kids love helping the younger ones,” said Pesch.

“Sometimes, the younger ones ‘coach’ the high school kids.”

Freestyle/Greco wrestling is much more prevalent in the metro area, Pesch noted. “There are just a few out-state clubs,” he said. “I had been coaching and founded two Freestyle/Greco Clubs in Belle Plaine and LeSueur over the past 20 years.”

“I saw an opportunity to start a fresh club here in Southwest Minnesota. Wrestling is popular in this area and wrestlers and families are committed to success.” The Thor wrestlers practice two nights a week from mid-March through May, while competing in several tournaments across the state.

“Unlike many other clubs, we focus on Freestyle/Greco Style wrestling,” Pesch said.

“These are the two styles of wrestling in the Olympics.”

“Folkstyle is high school/collegiate wrestling. USA is the only place in the world with Folkstyle. The rest of the world does Freestyle/Greco. The kids can choose which style they wrestle. We encourage them to do both.”

Photo: The Thor Wrestling Team of Minneota, from their State Freestyle event, were: (front row, left to right) Keynan Coequyt, Landon Marthaler, Adam DeVlaeminck and McCoy Marthaler. Second Row: Lincoln Fink, Layne Fink, Eric Carrasco, Zack Fier, Dylan Louwagie, Brock Fier, Caden Rose, Brett Regnier and Tyce Anderson. Back Row: Blaine Peterson, Ethan Lebrija, Josh Steffen, Kaleb Haase (Drew Fier-on shoulders), Tayte Harazin (Derek Fier on shoulders), Kade Lozinski and Micah Hach.

Coach J.D. Pesch with Drew and Derek Fier.

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