Mitchel Lexvold wrestles during the 2012 Minnesota State Wrestling Tournament in St. Paul. He finished his wrestling career with 212 wins and two state titles. (Photo by faribault daily news)
Mitchel Lexvold wrestles during the 2012 Minnesota State Wrestling Tournament in St. Paul. He finished his wrestling career with 212 wins and two state titles. (Photo by faribault daily news)
KENYON, Minn. - Before any of Wayne Lexvold's sons went into a wrestling match, he gave them the same simple words of advice: have fun and focus on one point at a time.
"You can't get the second point until you've got the first," Wayne said.
This advice turned into big success for the family, who now holds the record in Minnesota for the family with the most wrestling wins - 712. Although the brothers - Nathan (22), Chad (20), Drew (20) and Mitchel (18) - were the ones on the mat, it was a family effort. Their dad, Wayne, coached them through elementary school and at home, while their mom, Donna, and older sister, Shelia, cheered them on from the sidelines.
"It wasn't our goal to get the record ... but we're humbled," Wayne said.
Being a former wrestler, Wayne introduced each of his sons to the sport at about the age of 5 and started coaching them through elementary school.
"Dad taught us a lot of what we know," Drew said.
Mitchel added, "He helped us with a lot of technique when we were younger. Then he would take us to tournaments for a weekend. He'd load up the van and everyone would be there."
But the gym wasn't the only place where the Lexvold brothers would practice and compete.
"If we weren't working together at practice we'd work together at home," Nathan said.
With coaching from their dad, the Lexvold boys practiced on the mat they had in their basement or in the aisle of the barn during milking.
"Even when we were at cow shows they'd be rolling around in the straw wrestling," Wayne said.
The Lexvold family milks 80 cows on their farm near Kenyon. Each of the five siblings had to do chores in the morning before school and after school when they didn't have practice. All the brothers said working on the farm is part of what made them successful wrestlers.
"Farming is a lot of hard work ... it's not only being physically strong, it's being mentally strong knowing you have to get up at 5 a.m. and get chores done. The same is for wrestling when you need to cut weight or run another mile to get in shape," Nathan said.
Although their chores - including stacking bales, hauling water and feeding the animals among many others - made them strong, Chad agreed the strength they gained was more than physical.
"Growing up on a farm you had to deal with hard stuff. It taught me and my brothers how to work hard and push through hard times," he said.
This never-quit attitude carried with them to their varsity careers. Being the oldest of the brothers, Nathan led the way, starting for the Kenyon-Wanamingo High School varsity in seventh grade. The other three followed in a similar fashion, each reaching varsity in eighth grade.
In 2008, both the school's wrestling team and the Lexvold family reached a milestone. It was the first time the team had made it to the state tournament in school history, and all four Lexvold brothers wrestled together on the same team - Nathan as a senior, Chad and Drew as sophomores, and Mitchel as an eighth grader.
"It was cool to have my brothers on the team. That was one of the most fun things I've ever done," said Nathan, who also claimed the state champion title that year and finished with a high school record of 186-47.
Being the youngest, Mitchel said it was nice having family around.
"It was hard to go through a whole wrestling season so it was nice that your family was there and knew what you were going through," he said.
Nathan went on to Augsburg College to wrestle and is currently in his senior year double majoring in business management and accounting.
When Chad and Drew reached their senior year, they also finished at state level. Drew placed first both his junior and senior year, and ended his high school career with a 180-22 record while Chad took second at state his senior year and finished with a 134-40 high school record. Drew attends and wrestles for Minnesota State University, Mankato, and is studying mechanical engineering while Chad is at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Although he has not declared a major yet, Chad is thinking about pursuing biology.
Mitchel ended the Lexvold family's high school wrestling career with a 212-24 record along with two state championship titles - one his junior year and one this year as a senior.
"It was a good way to end a legacy," said Chad, who cheered Mitchel on with the rest of his brothers during the state tournament at the beginning of March.
Mitchel would like to wrestle in the future, but has not yet made a decision about where he will attend college.
Even though the brothers won at state, they were not exempt from chores during their glory days.
"The first year, when Nathan won, he still woke up at 5 the next morning and did chores so we could get to 8 a.m. church. There was no preferential treatment," Wayne said about the Sunday after the state tournament. "He (Nathan) told me I had to make sure the rest of his brothers do chores in the future if they won. And they did."
In the future, each of the brothers hope to someday be a wrestling coach or stay involved with the sport in some way. Whether they do or don't, they can at least look back on their time in high school when hard work and simple advice brought major success to their family.
"Wrestling is a big part of our family and it's really important to all of us," Drew said. "It definitely brought us closer together."