by MITCHELL BREUER
From The Winonan, WSU’s student newspaper
Another year has come and gone for the Winona State University wrestling club, with the 2019 season ending in a sixth-place team finish at nationals.
Head coach Louie Orr was impressed with how the year went for the team, and was happy with the increased interest from people around campus.
“Things went real well for us this year, better than most,” Orr said. “We had a lot of school participation with the number of students wanting to work out and be a little bit fit, both men and women, and that’s always good because that’s what this was all about. We had a number of wrestlers who wanted to compete and they did, and those who wanted to compete even more went further, so that was all good.”
From the competition side, Orr said this year proved to be one of the best since the ‘90s, as the team competed in ten tournaments and one team duel, all against well-versed competition.
The highest note of the season came at the end as the team flirted with the lead in team points during nationals.
“We scored well at the national tournament and we had a number of wrestlers who worked pretty deep into the tournament that helped in the scoring part of it, the team scoring,” Orr said. “To build on the top of that, you’ve got to realize they were competing against other schools that actually have scholared athletes. So for us to finish as high as sixth, that’s very, very good.”
Leading the team in his final year was senior Giovanni Guarnero, with whom Orr has built a strong relationship.
“I’ve been working with Giovanni for three years. He’s an exceptional athlete,” Orr said.
Orr said one of the biggest strengths in their relationship is communication, as the two are able to understand where each other are coming from. Orr said this has contributed to the success Guarnero has seen.
“When he’s into the match, he’s there all the way and we knew each other from my perspective from the corner to him being on the mat,” Orr said. “When we called out something, we were in agreement from a coaching and athlete perspective, there were no miscommunications. And that was really what drove a lot of the success that we had between the two of us.”
At his final nationals appearance, Guarnero, 235 pounds, placed third and earned his second All-American status, the only member of the team to receive the honor.
While the senior’s time at Winona State is coming to an end, Orr said he is hopeful in the potential of junior Austin Lasee, with whom he has also worked closely.
Lasee, who spent the season wrestling at 174 lbs, was one of the four members of the Winona State wrestling team who were at nationals, alongside Guarnero, sophomore Skyler Redmond and first-year Tyler Laures.
“Austin has been following the path that we’ve laid out for him to become an All-American,” Orr said. “He understands what we’re telling him and he has been working on the moves to build him into that position where he’s going to be into what we call winning wrestling.”
Heading into next season, Orr said he hopes the relationship between the club and the university will continue to grow, as well as the growth of his team as they strive for more success.