Alan Koehler will be seeking Prior Lake wrestling lore this winter.
The senior will be seeking a third straight state individual title, something no other Laker has ever accomplished. He won the 120-pound Class 3A crown last year and was the 106-pound champion as a sophomore.
In The Guillotine’s preseason rankings, Koehler opens the season ranked No. 1 in the state at 126 pounds. But when will we see the University of Nebraska recruit on the mat?
Not right away, according to Prior Lake coach Joe Block.
“Alan is dealing with an injury and we won’t see him until the second half of the season,” Block said. “Alan is one of those rare kids to come through our program, who is extremely dedicated to the sport and works very hard at his craft. I’m looking forward to seeing how his senior year plays out and looking forward to watching him at Nebraska.”
Koehler has a 77-2 record over the last two seasons, including a 43-1 mark a year ago.
Jake Kahnke, Alex Hart and Koehler are Prior Lake’s only two-time state champions. Kahnke won the 189-pound title in 2006 and the heavyweight crown in 2007, while Hart was the 220-pound winner in 2014 and won at heavyweight in 2015.
Without Koehler in the lineup until likely after the New Year, eyes will be on senior Ben Brennan, who opens the season ranked No. 8 at 138 pounds. He competed in his first state tournament last winter at 113 pounds, finishing the year with a 16-8 record.
Seniors Bronson Clayton, Aidan McGowan and Aidan Gengenheimer, juniors Finn Bloomquist, Jaxon Mikolyzk, Ethan Andryski and Jide Abisiri, sophomore Brock Zurn and ninth graders Zach Gabler and Owen Throndon are also back for the Lakers and expected to be in the varsity lineup.
Ninth-grader Dominic Berg and junior Max Berg are newcomers who could make an impact.
“We have a lot of new kids out for wrestling this year,” Block said. “It has been a fun group to this point and my hopes are that they enjoy the sport and want to come out again next year. I’m not sure how this team will shape up; that’s up to the kids. “There is a lot of potential with this group and I’m looking forward to a good season.”
“We are led by a great group of seniors, who are good role models and just good kids all around,” Block added. “I think another strength will be the inexperience of our new wrestlers. They bring an energy to the room, wanting to get better every day. That is contagious.”
Prior Lake had an 8-9 record in duals last year, including a 5-3 mark in the South Suburban Conference. The Lakers lost 42-33 to Farmington in the Section 2AAA semifinals.
Apple Valley is the defending section champion. The Eagles open the season ranked No. 6 in the state, and are the only Section 2AAA team ranked in the preseason poll.
Eastview is also a team to watch in the section, along with Farmington.
In the SSC, Shakopee has won the last seven conference titles. The No. 10 Sabers go into the season having won 57 straight league duals.
The last time Prior Lake made state as a team was in 2015, which was the seventh appearance for the program. The Lakers won the Section 2AAA title five straight years from 2011 to 2015 and was the state runner-up in 2014.
Prior Lake’s annual Ron Edwards Duals is set for Dec. 10 at the high school.
Koehler is likely to miss the annual Christmas Tournament, which is Dec. 16-17 in Rochester. The event features many of the state’s top wrestlers from all three classes.
The Section 2AAA team tournament is set for Feb. 17 in Apple Valley. The individual tourney will be Feb. 24-25 at Lakeville North.
This year’s Class 3A state tournament will be March 2-4 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The team competition is the first day, followed by the individual tourney the next two days.
St. Michael-Albertville is the defending state team champion.
Other Prior Lake wrestlers to win individual state titles include: Brad Thompson in 1969 (98 pounds); Bill Sauter in 1974 (125); Bruce Johnson in 1975 (145); Bill Craven in 1975 (140); Chad LeMair in 1986 (112); Cory Forar in 1997 (189); Ryan LeBeau in 1999 (130); Calvin Wolff in 2007 (135); Luis Pinto in 2014 (heavyweight); Kenny O’Neil in 2017 (160) and Calvin Sund in 2019 (195).