Saturday, January 30 was a busy day for Norse athletics. The Luther Wrestling team traveled to a triangular in Storm Lake, Iowa; they defeated Buena Vista University 34-13 but fell to Loras College 35-9. Meanwhile, the Luther Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving teams each defeated Loras in a home dual meet, with the Men winning 190.5-95.5 and the Women winning 186-67. The Luther Mens’ and Womens’ Basketball teams were also scheduled to play against Coe, but both games were postponed.
In the American Rivers Conference, the goal of the many wrestling triangulars scheduled throughout the season is to provide a way for each team in the conference to have a chance to compete against every other team, while minimizing travel and exposure. At the triangular in Storm Lake, Luther faced two teams at different places in the conference standings: Loras near the top and Buena Vista near the bottom.
“Loras is a very talented program, as they were ranked number one in the country after last season and they’ll have a number of nationally-ranked wrestlers on their squad,” Luther Wrestling Head Coach David Mitchell said. “[Buena Vista] was not as tough [as Loras], but despite not being an established powerhouse they have an improved team from last season.”
In the match against Loras, Luther only recorded wins in two weight classes: Austin Spacht (‘24) at the 125-lbs division and Donovan Corn (‘23) at the 197-lbs division. In the Buena Vista match, Spacht and Corn again won in their weight classes, while Luther wrestlers Tyler DiFiore (‘22) and Logan Kennedy (‘22) also posted wins in the 141-lb and 285-lb divisions.
Mitchell was happy with the overall performance of his team during the triangular.
“I hope that this competition [against Loras and Buena Vista] will help our wrestlers develop their mentality and technical skill,” Mitchell said. “Both teams were a great challenge for [Luther] as we start our season.”
Back in Decorah, the Luther Mens’ and Womens’ Swimming and Diving teams competed against Loras in the penultimate competition before their final meet, the Liberal Arts Championship. In the Men’s meet, five Luther swimmers recorded multiple first-place finishes, including Matt Benson (‘21) and Soren Gloege Torp (‘21). Additionally, Luther posted first place in the Men’s 200 medley relay, where Benson, Jack Meehan (‘23), Sasha Tomasevich (‘24) and Torp finished with a time of 1:44.90. The Luther Women’s team was led by Maddie Shea (‘24), who won first place in three individual events, including the 1000 freestyle and the 500 freestyle. Shea’s time in the 1000 freestyle of 11:02.21 ranks fourth on Luther’s all-time list. Britt Huss (‘23) and Anna Thomley (‘22) also had first-place finishes, Huss in the 100 freestyle and 200 freestyle, and Thomley in the 200 breaststroke and the 400 individual medley.
The Norse had already qualified for the championship meet, so the dual meet was less a direct competition against the Loras swimmers and more a way to tune up and mentally prepare for the upcoming championship meet.
“[The meet against Loras] was our last chance to look for the right swimmers and the right events for the championship meet,” Luther Swimming and Diving Head Coach Aaron Zander (‘10) said. “[The meet allowed] some of our swimmers put their best foot forward and show that they’re ready to participate in the [Liberal Arts Championship].”
While the Mens’ basketball game against Coe College was canceled on January 30, Luther immediately turned their attention to their next game on February 6, against Buena Vista, the first game of four games Luther would play in a span of a week.
“With COVID and teams having to pull out at the last minute, there have to be a lot of games rescheduled,” Luther forward Aaron Blumberg (‘21) said. “With only so many weeks to get games in, we have to be ready for anything.”
All Norse athletic teams will have to be ready to adapt during the weeks ahead, as COVID forces schedules to condense and competitions to postpone. The next wrestling meet is February 9, against Dubuque University, while the Mens’ and Womens’ Swimming and Diving teams will compete in the Liberal Arts Championships on February 18-20.