The Lomira wrestling team may have graduated a number of kids who went tostate a season ago, but that doesn’t mean the Lions don’t have the mindset of winning a fifth straight Flyway Conference title.
The Lions lost a big group of seniors that saw four guys make it to the WIAA Individual State Wrestling Tournament, while five team members earned first or second-team all-Flyway recognition. With that, this year will be quite different as the Lions have nine new starters.
Lomira does return some of its top guys from last season in seniors Matt Knuth, Casey Seltrecht, Cayden Wiese and sophomore Jordan Michael, but the leadership graduated from last season was a big loss.
“We have a lot of young guys who will have to step up,” Lomira head coach Dave Meyer said. “We were a bit older last year, and now this year we’ll be a bit younger, so a lot of young guys are going to get some experience.”
Seltrecht and Wiese, both earning first-team last season, are the two returning guys who made it to state last season. Along with them, Knuth (Flway first-team) and Michael (second-team) are looked upon to lead the young new group.
“Looking for leadership out of them,” Meyer said. “They create leadership in the practice room and in weightlifting before the season. They lead by setting a good example.”
Another senior who is making a return after not participating his sophomore and junior seasons is Evan Schrauth. He was a conference runner-up as a freshman and will compete at 195 pounds.
Meyer said the first three weight classes are taken over by freshmen. He said those kids already have good experience as they wrestled throughout grade and middle school.
“Fortunately for us, most of them have wrestled before,” the coach said. “They came up through the middle school program.”
The Lions also have a couple of experienced sophomores in Ray Manthey (152 pounds) and Jackson Rengel (160) — both who had successful years on JV.
Besides those two, they return Eric Danner — a 132-pound sophomore who started the last half of last season on varsity. He went 18-1 in that time.
Meyer knows that Omro and Laconia will be tough, but the title is their’s until they are knocked off.
“Sure, until somebody beats us,” Meyer said on the conference outlook. “We have a tough dual meet next week at Omro. They have a lot back and Laconia is loaded this year, so it’s not going to be easy. The guys have been working hard in practice and the squad is coming together, so they are ready to go.”
It will be much different this season for the Cougars, who will be without the likes of Ryan Costello — a four-time state participant — and last year’s Division 2 state champion at 126 pounds
The Cougars also arewithout Taylor Flasch, another state qualifier.
“Ryan is definitely a hard guy to replace,” Campbellsport head coach Mark Peterson said. “He’s a four-year starter, a state champ. He has the most wins in school history and he is just one of those guys that doesn’t come around too often.”
The Cougars return only one senior, so Peterson said he looks to a bunch of new guys to take over the leadership positions.
Some returners that Peterson look to this season include Alex Costello — a 106-pound junior who went 29-8 last season, junior Jake Hawley and sophomores Dominic Wetzel (120 pounds), Levy Feucht and Cody Kollmansberger.
Peterson also noted there were two freshmen coming in who have had a lot of time on the mat.
“We have two good freshmen this year: Bennet Marchant (113) and Mason Ksioszk (145),” Peterson said. “They will start for us and they have a load of experience.”
Peterson expects Two Rivers to win a fourth-straight Eastern Wisconsin Conference title, and other than that, it will be a fight from the No. 2 to 8 spots.
Fond du Lac
The Cardinals are looking to improve on their eighth place finish in the Fox Valley Association a year ago.
Fondy was a young team then, so another year of experience should help.
The Cardinals graduated four seniors, but return three guys who earned all-FVA honors in juniors Shane LeBreck and Jason Toshner and sophomore Josh Adams.
Toshner (170-pounds) was the lone Cardinal to make it to state and returns for his junior season after going 29-8 last year. LeBreck, another junior, earned second-team all-conference honors at 106 while Adams returns after a breakthrough freshman season where he earned honorable mention at 126.
“Toshner is coming off a nice football season and he’s a strong competitor who loves to wrestle. He has a relentless work ethic in the match to win,” Fondy head coach Joe Rens said. “Josh Adams is on a mission, he had a great offseason, improved his technique and strength and is looking to dominate the FVA.”
Rens also said to keep an eye out for the lone returning senior Rafeal Rodrigues, juniors William Boyrington, Paul Millard and sophomores Gage Zaahradnik (220/285), Torry Watson (145/152), Roberto Arellano and Nathan Lobajeski. He also said there is a big freshmen group that looks to do some damage in the next couple of years.
The Vikings were low on numbers a season ago, forcing them to forfeit a number of matches in dual meets.
This season, however, there are 20 guys on the team, so head coach Brad Wright is hoping for an improvement on its sixth-place Flyway conference finish.
The Vikings graduated one senior and return three, including Brandon Schilling, who made first-team all-conference. The two other seniors are Dylan Sook and Mitchell White.
Those three, along with junior Steve Steger (honorable mention), are relied upon heavily this season as the Vikings have 12 new guys to the sport.
“We have eight returning wrestlers, all with two years of experience, so this can only help the team get better as they are improving,” Wright said. “We may not be as strong as in the dual meets but I think we have a number of good wrestlers that can place in the tournaments this year.”
Wright said he believes Lomira, Laconia and Omro will be atop of the Flyway this year and hopes to end up somewhere in the middle of the pack.
North Fond du Lac/Springs
The Orioles aim to improve on finishing last in the Flyway a season ago, when the team finished with only six wrestlers.
This season will be different. North Fondy is in a co-op with St. Mary’s Springs this winter, and so far the team has have 13 guys.
“We are very excited about this year’s team,” head coach Doug Forsythe said. “We have co-oped with Springs and are trying to restart their program. We will be young and inexperienced, but our numbers are better and we are more athletic.”
The Orioles return all six guys from a season ago along with seven newcomers. They return one wrestler who made all-Flyway honorable mention last year in sophomore Noah Giebel. He finished third at the conference meet at 120-pounds.
Laconia had a successful 2012-13 campaign, finishing third in the Flyway behind Lomira and Omro while sending four guys to state.
They graduated Cody Moon and Owen Vande Zande, but return a core group of guys. Moon, a first-team all-Flyway selection along with Vande Zande, finished third at state at 220 pounds.
The Spartans return state qualifiers in seniors Mason Lind (160), Nick Zimmerman (35-11 record) and Dustin Deich (27-18). They also return junior Jared Greiten (first-team), senior Dan Behnke (honorable mention) and junior Cowen Mulder (honorable mention).
“A good part of them four guys going down to state — I have three of them returning,” Laconia head coach Patrick Coffeen said. “I think it’s huge. With that group coming back, we have a big freshmen class that I think will make a lot of noise with our seniors. I think we will be one of the frontrunners in the conference. Lomira is the team to beat until we beat them.”
Heading into the new season, the Cardinals look to improve on a fourth-place finish in the Flyway.
The Cardinals graduated seven wrestlers from that team, but return 12 who competed a season ago.
Two guys the Cardinals lost earned second-team all-Flyway last season in Sam Retzlaff and Chance Feller. Despite losing those two captains, Mayville returns a pair of juniors in Kody Priesgen and Dakota Danner. Priesgen earned honorable mention while Danner made second-team.
“Both Kody and Dakota have put in a considerable amount of time this offseason,” Mayville head coach Adam Clayton said. “Both have spent time going to wrestling schools, camps and were regular attendees of open wrestling times. Kody spent all fall in the trenches for football and got all-conference awards there while Dakota pushed himself in cross country to build up his endurance.”
Other guys looking to step up are seniors Tony Giese and Dominic Cypher and juniors Matt Barton, Airon Herning and Dominic Palm.
Mayville has seen its numbers go up the last couple of seasons, and Clayton said there are about 14 new kids to the program, with most being freshmen.
It will be a strange year for the Warriors, as they will be without the likes of Kevin Messner, Taylor Huenink and Brady Huenink — three seniors that made state a season ago.
Brady Huenink won a state title in Madison at 182-pounds and finished the year 39-1.
The Warriors finished sixth out of eight teams in the EWC a season ago.
The Oaks return their top guy in Ross Ellison, who made it to state as a freshman at 113-pounds. He finished the year ranked sixth in division 3.
Oakfield is coming off an eighth-place finish out of 10 teams in the Trailways Conference.