Packers wrestling seeking to keep tradition alive with new head coach
Ben Berogan doesn't intend on changing West Fargo wrestling. He's coached the Packers for a few years now and likes the direction of the program just the way it is.
Berogan, in his first year as the solo head coach, has plenty of talent to work with. The Packers return three individual state champions and a plethora of younger talent after taking fifth place at the Class A state individual tournament and state dual tournament last season.
"We're not reinventing the wheel," Berogan said. "We stick with pretty much the same things they've been doing. They've had a successful program, so not a lot of change."
Berogan said he doesn't feel much pressure having coached the team for six years including one season as the co-head coach with past coach Kevin Fynboh. But he does admit there's high expectations for the program which he's alright with.
Berogan said he's got a good group of team leaders who set the pace in practice and demonstrate hard work for the younger wrestlers. He believes work ethic and mental toughness leads to wins.
"Everyone works harder to reach those expectations," Berogan said. "You can push them as hard as you can and teach them as much as you can. That's the basics of it."
North Dakota State commit and three-time state champion Jared Franek loves the Packers wrestling tradition and wanted to be a part of it when he was younger. Now as a senior, he wants to make sure the tradition stays alive.
"I have to keep that level up high to keep everyone working hard," Franek said. "I went through it as a younger kid, watching guys lead the way, so I have to be the same way and help out guys who will be doing the same thing a few years from now."
The Packers graduated NDSU commits Jesse Shearer and Brandon Metz who both finished their high school careers as three-time state champions. However, the Packers bring back returning state champs JJ Harms and Cade Pederson.
Harms, a senior, said he looked up to seniors growing up so being in that role now is strange.
Harms said he went to the older kids' tournaments when he grew up, and the success of the Packers attracted him to the sport. He wants the program to keep bringing in state championships after he graduates so he's trying to push the younger wrestlers to their limits.
"I've never had that feeling of people looking up to me," Harms said. "We're pushing them really hard and telling them to work hard at it."
Franek said he's trying to work on little things and keep up his conditioning to get better before he gets to NDSU. Franek is hoping to push his younger teammates to breakout seasons to help them make the podium at the state tournament. Despite multiple head coaching changes since he's wrestled for the Packers, Franek said he's not surprised the program has continued to bring in trophies.
"As long as we can get them ready for future years, it'll be good," Franek said. "(Berogan) will do great leading this program."
Harms said the Packers should bring home state championships again this year and could have more top-eight finishes than last season.
"We have a lot of new faces in the room, so I think it's going to be a pretty good year for us," Harms said. "The new kids are learning really quick and they're good athletes too."
Coach: Ben Berogan (first year)
Last season: 16-9 overall, fifth place at Class A state individual tournament and state dual tournament
Who's gone: Brandon Metz, Chase Teiken, Jesse Shearer
Key returners: Jared Franek, Sr.; JJ Harms, Sr.; Brandon Steinhauer, Jr.; Cade Pederson, Jr.