In a conference dual meet last week, the Waconia wrestling team fell to the Annandale-Maple Lake co-op, but was able to pull off a win against New London-Spicer.
Wildcat head coach Kelly Wagener said he expects both of the ‘Cats Dec. 11 opponents to battle for the top of the conference, and Waconia’s performance against the two proves the ‘Cats can be up there as well.
Annandale 41, Waconia 26
At New London on Dec. 11, the Wildcats first faced off against Annandale. A “flat” start put the ‘Cats quickly behind 22-0 after losing the first four weight classes.
Junior Jacob Steinbauer (132 pounds) earned the first win of the night for Waconia, pinning the Lightning’s Nick Anderson in the second period at 2:58. At 138, Waconia freshman Owen Hemze faced off against senior Hunter Hicks, battling his way to a 9-7 victory. Down 4-1 after two periods, Hemze tied it in the third. Wagener said the match up was the best of the night, with Hemze getting a buzzer-beating takedown on Hicks.
Sophomore Nick Green (145) followed Hemze with a pin in the second period over Kody Rolfzen. The Wildcats lost at 160, 170, 182, and 195, before senior Riley Trnka (220) got the best of Cruz Johnson at 1:11 with a fall. The ‘Cats would also lose the heavyweight class, but trailed Annandale by too much for it to make much of a difference.
Wagener said the team is dedicated to conditioning and placed the blame on himself and the coaching staff for not preparing the team well enough for the opening match.
“Our whole team prides themselves in being in better condition than any other team,” he said.
Waconia 36, NL-S 33
It was Wildcats versus Wildcats in the next match, as Waconia took on No. 7 (2A) New London-Spicer. In the 36-33 victory, Waconia started off much better than the previous match, according to Wagener.
Eighth grader Justin Schultz put the Wildcats up 6-0 after pinning his opponent at 1:35 in the first period. Eighth grader Spencer Neu and freshman Ben Garnatz then took on Thomas and Jakob Stageberg, two wrestlers that Wagener called “studs.” Both Waconia wrestlers were pinned in the first period.
Steinbauer won a 7-1 decision over Treyton Austrvoldm who is ranked among the top ten in weight class 132. Wagener said Steinbauer, who was a state tournament qualifier last season, continues to improve and works hard throughout all six minutes of a match.
“And that’s what we want from our kids,” he said.
Owen Hemze won a 7-4 decision against New London-Spicer.
“He’s on fire,” Wagener said.
Green again found himself in the win column after an 8-3 decision over Cameron Steffen. Junior Isaac Kluver returned to the varsity mat at 170 pounds, picking up his first win of the season over Jordan Baker.
Kluver pinned Baker in the second period at 2:31. Senior Max Bullock also earned a fall in the second period, a pin at 2:52 over Luke Gould. Bullock’s win tied the match for the Waconia Wildcats, who had been trailing since weight class 120.
Grant Vagle got the best of Waconia sophomore Zach Christians to put New London-Spicer ahead again, before Trnka tied it again with a pin on Brandon Knisley at 0:46 in the first period.
The match then came down to the heavyweights. Sophomore Eli Teeselink defeated Andy McDonnell in a 3-0 win, also clinching the Waconia victory.
“I couldn’t have been happier,” Wagener said of the team’s performance against New London-Spicer.
The Wildcats will host their final home dual of the season tonight, Dec. 20, against Delano and Orono.