With youth on their side, the Waconia wrestling team is ready to continue it’s strong reputation in 2013-14. With just four departing seniors, the ‘Cats will return many of their varsity regulars for next season and are expecting another 13-15 seventh graders to join the program, according to WHS head coach Kelly Wagener.
The Wildcats went into the season with high expectations. They wanted to finish in the top three of the WCC, which they achieved by tieing for third with Glencoe-Silver Lake. Hutchinson claimed the top spot.
The season was a success for the Wildcats, as they finished 14-8 overall, 6-3 in the WCC, and qualified two wrestlers for state.
Through the course of the season, the Wildcats defeated conference teams Dassel-Cokato, Litchfield, New London-Spicer, Delano, Orono, and Mound-Westonka, as well as Marshall/Lakeview, LeSueur-Henderson, Tri-City, New Ulm, St. James, Canby, and St. Peter.
From Jan. 24-29, the ‘Cats won six matches in as many days, defeating New Ulm (69-0), Dassel-Cokato (39-26), Litchfield (36-22), St. James (37-29), Canby (37-27), and St. Peter (36-31).
In the postseason, Waconia defeated New Ulm 55-6 in the first round of the Section 2AA team tournament, before falling 49-23 to Scott West.
Hosting the individual section tournament, the ‘Cats qualified senior Max Bullock and junior Jacob Steinbauer for state. Bullock and Steinbauer both won their first matches at state before later falling in the wrestlebacks.
In tournaments, the Wildcats finished second at Henry Sibley, and third at Delano, Mora, and St. Francis. Individual tournament winners included Steinbauer (6), Mason Hemze, Max Bullock (2), Riley Trnka (2), Owen Hemze, and Nick Green.
Headed into the season, Wagener knew the team was young in the lower weights, boasting many young wrestlers in Justin Schultz, Spencer Neu, Tyler Wagener, Ben Garnatz, Josh Reich, and Alex Logelin. Schultz, Logelin, and Wagener recently qualified for state with their seventh and eighth grade wrestling team, proving to coach Wagener that “overall, our youth has really paid off.”
On the other end of the age spectrum, it’s time to said goodbye to four senior wrestlers in Bullock, Mitch Green, Jordan Patula, and Trnka all graduate for WHS this spring. Bullock and Trnka were varsity regulars and consistent point earners at 182 and 220 pounds, respectively, and have been with the WHS wrestling program since kindergarten. Wagener said they are a “huge part” of the WHS program and will be missed. Both also have qualified for and competed at state.
Green, a two-year wrestler, quickly became the Wildcats’ go-to teammate when needed.
“He’s a great fill-in guy,” Wagener said, adding that none of the upper weight varsity regulars would be where they are if not for Green’s continued push in practice.
Patula was a solid force for the junior varsity Wildcats, giving six years to the WHS program, and will be sorely missed.
But with the seniors’ departure, the door opens for more Wildcats.
“We’ve got a lot of good guys coming back,” Wagener said.
Wrestlers who topped 30 wins this season included Steinbauer (38-6), Owen Hemze (31-11), Mason Hemze (32-12), and Bullock (37-9), while Nick Green (24-15) and Trnka (29-6) both had over 20 wins.
During the season, Steinbauer had the most take downs with 62, followed by Mason Hemze (60), Trnka (52), and Alex Logelin (52). Zach Buffington led the team in escapes (52), followed by Reich (37), and Mason Hemze (33). Schultz had the most reversals on the team (25), followed by Green (21), and Logelin (19).
The most three-point near falls list was topped by Bullock (22) and Steinbauer (21), and also included Schultz (17), Green (14), and Tyler Wagener (12). Steinbauer and Bullock each had 10 two-point near falls, followed by Green (9). Total falls were led by Bullock and Steinbauer with 24, followed by Owen Hemze and Trnka at 18, and Wagener at 17.
Mason Hemze had the most decisions (12), followed by Owen Hemze (9), Logelin (9), Green (9), Jed Waligoski (8), and Bullock (8).
Steinbauer was the team’s lone All-Conference wrestler, but five Honorable Mention awards went to Trnka, Bullock, Mason Hemze, Owen Hemze, and Green.
Team awards included: MVP Varsity (Steinbauer), MVP JV (Garrett Vos), Most Improved Varsity (Schultz), Most Improved JV (Zach Olsem), Mr. Hustle (Reich), Wildcat Wrestler of the Year (Owen Hemze), and the Mat Cat Coaches’ Award (Mason Hemze).
Contact Melissa Marohl at email@example.com.