“Ups and downs but working hard” is how Andover junior wrestler Corey Parsons sums up his season so far.
The state’s top-ranked grappler at 170 pounds in Class AAA over the last two rankings released (Jan. 11-25) is a sign that Parsons is ready to make a third trip to the state wrestling tournament in March.
According to Andover coach Jeff Thompson, Parsons has the ability to compete with the best in the state. The challenge is to put in the extra effort to be at the peak in the coming weeks with sections and state within the next month.
“Corey’s one of those kids who is willing to work before or after practice,” Thompson said.
Parsons, a two-time captain, works with two coaches directly during practice.
Having Sam Stewart and Cole Westerlund, two very talented wrestlers, around him last season also helped him develop.
“Corey’s work ethic on the mat is what really separates him,” Thompson said. “He doesn’t stop on the mat until the whistle is blown.
“Good wrestlers can handle the first period but by the third period he’s conditioned to go the distance and that’s where he’s got them.”
One of Parsons’ coaches is Robbie Kriesel, a former St. Francis state champion.
“He’s looking after me right now and kind of taking me under his wing,” Parsons said. “He’s keeping my motivation up.”
The two stay after practice to work on anything Parsons needs help with. “He’s always there,” Parson said.
Parsons placed fourth at 152 pounds as a freshman, but didn’t place last season at 160 pounds as a sophomore with a 1-2 record.
This year he’s climbed the rankings from fifth Nov. 16; sixth Dec. 7; fourth Dec. 28 and first in the Jan. 11 and 25 rankings.
Parsons boasts a 31-3 record with more than two dozen pins.
Two of the losses came at a very tough Faribault tournament to open the season. The other came at the prestigious Rumble on the Red in Fargo, N.D., around the holidays.
Thompson said they wanted to test Parsons at his proper 170-pound weight class, but he struggled to meet that weight drop and had to forfeit one match.
His standout-win of the season so far came a few weeks back against Tartan’s TJ O’Hara, the defending Class AAA 152-pound state champion and was top-ranked at 170 pounds during their match, Jan. 5.
As a result of the win, O’Hara dropped to No. 2 while Section 7AAA foe, sophomore Jordan Joseph of St. Michael-Albertville is ranked third.
“[The win] was a good sign of where he’s at and where he can be,” Thompson said.
O’Hara scored the first takedown of the match at the Tartan Invite, but Parsons came back to win the match with a strong third period.
“Age is helping [him] because he’s getting older and wrestling extremely technically sound,” Thompson said. “He stays calm and doesn’t panic as quickly or easily. That’s what I can see over the last three years. He doesn’t get thrown off track.”
Parsons said the win was an emotional victory too because of what beating a state champion means.
“This was my time to prove myself,” Parsons said. “Once I got the next takedown I knew I could do it. I wasn’t surprised but excited. Every wrestler goes in thinking they are going to win. I was really relieved.”
Listed officially at wrestling at 170 pounds, Parsons, like many others, wrestles up a weight class to help the team when it comes time to compete for a section or state title. Parsons bumped up to 182 pounds recently where the wins continue to pile up.
Parsons is up the task. “It’s challenging but you have to be technically sound,” he said. “If you wrestle good it’s no issue but [what I’ve learned] is you can’t stay underneath.”
He hit the 100-career wins mark during a tournament in Andover Dec. 8. He went 3-0 on the day.
Competing at the higher weight helps increase strength and endurance, according to Thompson, which will help him in what should be a very competitive section with teams like St. Michael-Albertville, Forest Lake, Cambridge-Isanti, Coon Rapids and Anoka.