Blue Earth Area 152-pound wrestler David Franta knows that if he wants to make it to the Class A individual state wrestling tournament at the end of this month, he will face a tough challenge.
Franta is not backing down, and will contend against wrestlers like Class A, No. 1-ranked Luke Norland of Jackson County Central and No. 9-ranked Chance Oftedahl of St. Clair/Mankato Loyola in the 152-pound bracket of the Section 2A individual tournament, with only the top two finishers advancing to the state tournament.
"My ultimate goal this year would be to get to the state tournament," said Franta. "In my section, there are two top-ranked guys and I know if I want to get there, I'll have to beat at least one of them."
PINNING COMBINATION — Blue Earth Area grappler David Franta applies a headlock to United South Central opponent Corey Ehlert during 152-pound nonconference dual-meet wrestling action on Tuesday night in Blue Earth. Franta went on to pin Ehlert to help trigger the Bucs’ comeback en route to a one-point team triumph. Photo by Leanna Becker
The top-ranked opponents that Franta will face in the section are not the only ones that he has seen so far this season. The Blue Earth Area junior also has taken on Iowa's and South Dakota's top wrestlers at 152 in dual meets this season - matches that hopefully helped prepare him for the end of the season.
"Even knowing the section competition he (Franta) will face, he doesn't make excuses and he won't ask to change weight classes," said Blue Earth Area head coach Randy Wirtjes. "He works unbelievably hard and does whatever he has to for the team."
This season, Franta leads the Bucs with 109 takedowns and has amassed 69 wins during his varsity career. The only junior captain has gone 23-7 this season heading into today's South Central Conference Meet in New Ulm.
More importantly for Franta, however, is the fact that he has helped the Bucs compile a 22-4 record and earn the South Central Conference dual meet championship.
"Every match for a wrestler is important. I'm not a huge pinner, I like to wrestle a lot on my feet. But if the team needs a pin, then I'll go out there and try and do that," said Franta.
In Tuesday's comeback victory over the United South Central Rebels, that was exactly what he did. With his team trailing 24-7, Franta pinned his opponent, Corey Ehlert, in 45 seconds to draw the Bucs within nine points of the lead.
The skills needed to be able to claim crucial victories when necessary comes from years of hard work and a lot of time spent on the mat.
"We spend a lot of time in the gym. We have morning practices four or five times a week and then regular practices in the afternoons. It's hard work, but when you are spending all that time with friends on the team, it's more fun," said Franta.
"He is a great leader for our team. He will do whatever he has to do for the team and he never complains," said Wirtjes. "As a freshman, he got injured and he never made any excuses about that. I think it just gave him even more motivation to work hard."
With the regular season finishing up this week, Franta hopes his hard work will pay off when it counts in the postseason.
"The best thing about wrestling is when you are on the mat, it's just you and the other guy," said Franta. "Winning matches is pretty great, too. That's when all the hardwork pays off."