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Next era of Ryan wrestling begins under Brock Nagel

Alex Eisen/MDN Bishop Ryan wrestling head coach Brock Nagel (left) talks with senior Corbin Okeson (right) during practice Monday in Minot.

Brock Nagel could easily be misidentified as just another wrestler on Bishop Ryan’s squad. But don’t let that deceive you.

The fresh-faced head coach from Linton has put in his time and is ready for his first season at the helm for the Lions.

“This is awesome,” Nagel said. “I was an assistant for six years prior to this. I’ve been around the sport. I was blessed to get my opportunity here. Plus, having Steve Lipp as my assistant helps keep me in check and makes sure I get everything done. That’s super convenient. Not many people have that opportunity to have another head coach on their staff.”

Nagel takes over the head coaching duties from Lipp, who served as the head coach for four seasons. Nagel, a graduate of Linton High School (2013) and North Dakota State (2017), was an assistant wrestling coach at Kindred and Bishop Ryan.

Lipp will stay on staff as an assistant coach.

Ryan finished 13th last season in the state tournament individual team standings, and the Lions lost both of their state team dual matches.

Returning placewinners from last season include Corbin Okeson (2nd, 182 pounds), Keegan Henjum (6th, 285) and Wesley Harvey (8th, 126).

“I had a heartbreaking loss last year in the state championship match,” Okeson said. “I want to bounce back and win state in my senior year.”

Okeson and Henjum are the best-returning placewinners for their respective weight classes. Both were also a part of the state runner-up football team this fall. Henjum, a lineman, was named the Region 3 football’s Senior Athlete of the Year.

“We just want to keep the momentum going,” Henjum said. “I had an alright season last year in wrestling. Now, the goal this year is to make it to the championship and win it.”

Transferring in from Stanley is senior Noah Swegarden, who wrestled at 220 last season and was a Region 3 champion.

“We look forward to him stepping into our line-up and doing some big things,” Nagel said.

Another senior football player Kersey Harris returns to the mat. He failed to place last year after finishing sixth at 132 in 2018 and falling in the 2017 state championship match at 106.

Nagel sees Harris wrestling at 170 this season, giving Ryan a strong four-headed attack in the upper weight classes.

“Our upper weights (are going to be a strength) with a bunch of seniors and regional champions coming back,” Okeson said. “I think that’s going to be our strong point this season.”

The lightweights don’t want to be overlooked either. Keep an eye on Wesley Harvey, Connor Harvey and Lane Cooper. There is also Surrey import Octavio Alvarez, who recently moved to North Dakota from South Carolina.

“We should have a full line-up again to compete in the duals,” Nagel said. “Individually, we had a lot of lower placers (at state). But, as kids graduate and our younger kids hopefully progress, they will move up higher on the podium this year.”

Reaching the Class B state team dual semifinals, along with high individual finishes, is seen as the team’s goals for this campaign.

“I think we have a top 4 potential dual team,” Nagel said. “But we have to show up and compete in February.”

Henjum added: “It takes a lot to be a state champion. It’s not just you going into the room and kind of working. You have to work super hard.”

Ryan wrestling kicks off the season this weekend at the Minot Early Bird Invite being held at the Minot High Magic City Campus. Junior varsity will wrestle on Friday with the varsity competitors scheduled for Saturday, starting at 9 a.m.

Alex Eisen covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.

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