Upon entering the Magic City Campus gymnasium, one is instantly reminded of the Minot High School wrestling team's past success.
The Magicians, who open their season at Dickinson tonight at 7, are looking to add more hardware to their ever-growing trophy case.
Minot's roster is senior-dominated, including 2011-12 state qualifiers Cody Haugen (132 pounds), Nick Nesdahl (heavyweight) and Demetreus Roby (220).
MHS junior Gabe Nehlson, right, attempts a takedown move against senior Cody Haugen during practice Monday at Magic City Campus.
Haugen brings the most experience to the Magicians, having wrestled with the team since eighth grade. Last season, he lost in the state semifinals in the 132-pound weight division.
"Taking third at state last year was not the finish I was looking for," Haugen said. "That serves as my motivation."
Haugen has spent the offseason at Magic City Campus working with the coaching staff in preparation for his senior season.
Meet the Magicians
Seniors - Jorey Bartsch, Jesse Hoffart, Cody Haugen, Brian Rabe, Zach Nagel, Dayne Haman, Demetreus Roby, Nick Nesdahl.
Juniors - James Dancing Bull, Isaiah Crowe, Gabe Nehlsen, Dustin Lawrence, Josh Pizzo, Zach Borgen, Kimani Benjamin.
Sophomores - Zain Lackery, D.J. Womack, Stephen Riordan, Derek Fratnsvog, Michael Lambert.
Freshmen - Matthew Leier, Peter Folk, Devin Stein, Ethan Benham, Matthew Marler, James Hamilton, Tyler Kolobakken, Austin Nagel.
Eighth-graders - Fathyn Vandal, Carson Mosser, Matthew Rabe.
Seventh-graders - Brody Armstrong, Tyler Stranberg, Creighton Rudolph, Tyler Thompson.
November - tonight, at Dickinson, 7 p.m.; 29, vs. Williston at MSU Dome, 7:30 p.m.
December - 1, at Jamestown tournament, 10 a.m.; 6, at Bismarck Century, 7 p.m.; 7-8, at Grand Forks Central Tournament, 1 p.m.; 13, St. Mary's, 7:30 p.m.; 14-15, at Dickinson Tournament, 1 p.m.; 21, Jamestown, 7:30 p.m.; 28-29, Fargo Tournament at NDSU, 9 a.m.
January - 4-5, at Bismarck Rotary Tournament, 9 a.m.; 11, at Bismarck High, 7 p.m.; 17, at Mandan, 7 p.m.; 18-19, at Grand Forks Red River Tournament, 1 p.m.; 25, Turtle Mountain, 7:30 p.m.
February - 9, West Region Tournament at Minot, 9 a.m.; 14-16, State Tournament in Fargo, 10 a.m.
"Cody brings the leadership that's unparalleled," MHS coach Nolan Spooner said. "Cody's been with us for a long time and he has knowledge of tournament information that, in terms of leadership, is incredible."
Nesdahl claimed the heavyweight title at the West Region tournament last year and finished second at state. Despite last season's success, Nesdahl has a specific goal of defeating Grand Forks Red River's Bryan Bjerk.
"He beat me every time I've wrestled him," Nesdahl said. "Hopefully this time will be different."
Bjerk was the top-ranked heavyweight last season but was upset by eventual state champion Josh Schlicht of Fargo South in the semifinals.
At 220 pounds last season, Nesdahl wrestled up a weight class against opponents who could weigh up to 285 pounds. Nesdahl has added 10 pounds in the offseason to help combat his size disadvantage. He considers his best attributes to be strength and speed, which come from his experience playing other sports.
"Nick is just a good athlete," Spooner said. "He's one of our only three-sport athletes and he certainly uses all his knowledge from football and track to really add that flavor to the wrestling room."
While the Magicians take their wrestling seriously in meets, Roby does all he can to bring a sense of calmness off the mat.
"Demetreus is a fun-loving kid who keeps everyone cool," Spooner said. "When it's business time he really takes it seriously. But in the practice room or on the team bus, he's a fun-loving guy. He's laid-back."
Roby has been busy this offseason, attending a wrestling camp in Colorado, traveling to Disney with the team for a dual meet and wrestling at Fargo Nationals. Roby admitted to struggling in Fargo, but said it just motivated him more.
"I'm the guy who is always shooting for No. 1," he said.
Roby finished second at state in the 220-pound weight class. Ranked No. 3, Roby defeated second-ranked Darrek Crissler of Fargo Davies before dropping a 9-2 decision to top-ranked Skyler Poitra of Turtle Mountain.
The Magicians' season begins tonight against Dickinson in what Spooner expects to be a "dog fight." As for the season outlook, Spooner believes the region will come down to MHS and Bismarck High.