We look to the North for the next preview as we take a look at Dave Mitchell’s Luther Norsemen squad and what they bring to the table in 2015-16. Last year Luther put together a top ten finish at the national tournament and crowned three All-Americans in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Coming back into this season Luther only graduates third place finisher Evan Obert (133) and NCAA qualifier Jayden DeVilbiss (184), but coming into this season the Norse have a lot to work with to improve upon last year’s finish.
A big cog in the Luther lineup is without a doubt their 141-pound wrestler and NCAA runner-up Drew Van Anrooy, who is looking to finish off his career for the Norse. Last season Van Anrooy put together a 25 win season and only lost two matches all year with one of those being his 4-2 sudden victory loss in the finals to Hunter’s Cary Palmer. If Luther is to finish in the top ten again, they will be relying on Van Anrooy racking up a lot of points as he did in 2015.
The other returning All-American in the lineup is heavyweight Conner Herman, who will also look to finish up his career with the Norse with another trip to the podium. Herman was surprisingly third in the Central Regional qualifier for the NCAA tournament, but he ended up being one of two All-Americans to come out of his regional, joining Wartburg heavyweight Ben Nagle. Nagle will be back for 2016 as well, so Herman will not be the favorite at his weight in the IIAC, but he will be right there at the top.
Mitchell’s team also returns quite a few NCAA qualifiers from 2015 including 29 match winner Dakota Gray at 149 pounds and 165-pound standout Blake Letney, who finished one win shy of 20 on the season. Both Gray and Letney join Van Anrooy and Herman as seniors in the lineup and it is that veteran experience that will play a large role in this season.
That just leaves Reed Van Anrooy as the other returning NCAA qualifier for Luther, who will look to return to the 157 pound spot in the lineup. The larger Van Anrooy missed a portion of the season due to injury which opened the door for Tristan Zurfluh to get some valuable experience in the lineup while filling in. Coming into this season Zurfluh won’t be going away and should challenge for the 157-pound spot.
125 Spencer Davies FR
133 Nick Scheffert SR
141 Drew Van Anrooy SR
149 Dakota Gray SR
157 Reed Van Anrooy JR or Tristan Zurfluh JR
165 Blake Letney SR
174 David Kremer SR or Billy Poray SO
184 Justin Kreiter JR
197 Paxton Jordahl or Derek Stork
285 Conner Herman SR
From there Luther will need to replace four of their spots in the lineup for the upcoming season, with three of those spots opening up from graduation. Senior Nick Scheffert will be the leader in the 133 pound race, and he has a tall task ahead of him trying to replace Obert, who was a household name among Luther fans.
With NCAA qualifier DeVilbiss moving on, last year’s 174 pound starter Justin Kreiter will bump up in the lineup to try and fill that hole. Kreiter finished one spot out of the automatic qualifying spot at Regionals last year losing a tough match to eventual Coe All-American Ryan Harrington in the consolation finals.
With Kreiter moving up, one of David Kremer or Billy Poray will try and fill into the 174-pound spot in the lineup. Kremer is a senior, where Poray will be just a sophomore this coming season.
Another lineup battle will come down at 197 pound where one of Paxton Jordahl or Derek Stork will try to solidify their spot in the lineup with the departure of Tyler Walls.
That leaves just the 125-pound spot in the lineup, which will also see a change with last year’s starter transferring out of Luther. We should see freshman Spencer Davies make his was into the lineup. Davies didn’t get a ton of time in last season due to injury, but he comes in with a solid Wisconsin pedigree, taking fourth, third, and second at the state tournament.
That should wrap up the Luther starting lineup for the 2015-16 season. It’s not easy to lose a talent like Obert, but the Norse return a lot of quality wrestlers from the 2015 season, with a good chunk of them getting NCAA experience. Luther should get to see some great competition right off the bat, as they host the annual Luther Open near the start of the NCAA season. Typically Division I programs like Iowa and Minnesota have sent many quality wrestlers to the event. The Norse will also travel to Tennessee for the Gator duals and once again to Indiana for the NWCA National Duals.