Reusse: Why Augsburg, heavyweight star deserve their spotlight

LG Electronics has a familiarity with rivalries, considering it's a distant second place to the other South Korean giant, Samsung, in the competition to sell televisions and other products.

The U.S. branch of LG has a sponsorship deal with the NCAA. As part of the LG Network on their televisions, video crews have been producing a series called "Rivalries,'' featuring long-standing collegiate competitions.

This week, an LG video crew was working on one of those rivalries that might be unmatched:

Augsburg of Minneapolis vs. Wartburg in Waverly, Iowa, both private Lutheran colleges, separated by 200 miles, and quite often by the outcome of one critical match among 10 in Division III wrestling.

Consider this:

In 1991, Augsburg became the first non-Eastern school to win the D-III wrestling title. It won again in 1993 and then 1995. Wartburg won its first title in 1996, beating out Augsburg 95½-89½ in points.

And starting with that back-to-back for the Burgs, either Wartburg (15 total) or Augsburg (14, with a streak of 12) have won 27 consecutive D-III wrestling titles. Augsburg won its 14th by putting together a sensational two days of wrestling in Roanoke, Va., last March to finish with 101 points to 66½ for Wartburg.

The trip was shorter this week, when Augsburg (with its full lineup of 10 qualified) left by bus Wednesday for La Crosse, Wis. The meet takes place Friday and Saturday, with Wisconsin-La Crosse and North Central from Naperville, Ill., as the primary threats to the Burgs.

Wartburg and Augsburg wrestled twice this season: Wartburg winning 21-19 in the finals of the National Duals on Jan. 6, and Augsburg in the teams' annual "Battle of the Burgs," 20-19, on Jan. 26 in the Auggies' jam-packed Si Melby Hall.

"That one is circled on the calendar every year," Augsburg coach Tony Valek said. "We brought in extra bleachers — we had over 2,000 fans. It was such a cool atmosphere all night, and it came down to Tyler winning the last match in overtime."

That would be Tyler Kim, a fifth-year heavyweight from Apple Valley High. The weight limit is 285, and he's substantially less than that — not a mountain of a man, more of a solid guy who exudes being an athlete.

He was a teammate when Gable Steveson was starting his legend at Apple Valley.

"I was 195 then, and never really drilled with Gable," Kim said. "They would bring in guys from the outside who could give him a workout."

That's one fascinating aspect with high school and college wrestling: There always seem to be still-in-shape alums willing to give a big-time wrestler the workouts required to prepare for upcoming challenges.

That's the case with Kim, a three-time All-America, coming back for this allowed extra year to take a run at a first national title. Donny Longendyke shows up regularly in Augsburg's large wrestling room to assist Tyler in that pursuit.

Longendyke was a two-time national champ for the Auggies in 2016-17. He's now a ranked Greco-Roman wrestler and headed for the Olympic trials.

On Monday, they worked on various maneuvers, and then Valek called on everyone to pair off and go at it for seven minutes. Kim and Longendyke did exactly that, with the cameras from the LG Network rolling.

Kim played three sports at Apple Valley: football, wrestling and lacrosse.

"I started in baseball and there was too much downtime," he said. "I tried lacrosse in the seventh grade. I loved it. I'd say, wrestling was almost my third sport in high school.

"I was going to St. Thomas for football. Then, I didn't have a great football experience as a senior and didn't want that."

Jim Mousloff, the assistant head coach at Augsburg, stayed on him for wrestling.

"I didn't even know Augsburg was defending national champion when I got here in the fall of 2019," Kim said. "I didn't have big expectations. I said, 'I'm going to be a good 'room' guy, support guy, help out as best I can.' "

Instead, he's about to compete in his fifth national tournament and is seeded third for his last meet.

Kim has a degree in communications. He's getting a master's certificate in the "arts of leadership" this school year. He has been accepted into the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota to pursue a master's in public policy.

"That's the likely scenario for this fall," Kim said. "I would like to be a city planner."

The Battle of the Burgs should be good training for a job like that, Tyler.