Traveling to Montgomery for a triangular meet on Dec. 3, the Waconia wrestling team finished the evening 1-1, besting the host team Tri-City United/Cleveland, but falling to New Prague to sit at 3-3 so far this season.
Against Tri-City/Cleveland first, the Wildcats won 54-15. WHS head coach Kelly Wagener said he didn’t expect the blowout win the Wildcats collected.
“Going through TCU’s lineup, we thought it’d be really close,” he said.
But the Wildcats took Tri-City in the first four matches, and would in fact, win eight of the first nine matches. Garrett Vos got things started at 106 pounds for WHS, winning a 13-2 major decision. Jaden Vanderhoff earned a technical fall on his opponent at 4:38 in the third period.
It took just 37 seconds for Justin Schultz to pin his opponent at 120 pounds and Ben Garnatz earned his fall just seconds before the second period ended.
“Whenever you can get those small guys winning on the bottom it just keeps going and going,” Wagener said.
And go it did, as Josh Reich pulled off a 9-7 decision, followed by Jacob Steinbauer with a 6-4 decision over the state’s No. 1 wrestler, Mason Brownlee, and Owen Hemze with a 5-2 decision.
The Wildcats finished off Tri-City by winning four of the last six matches, including falls by Nick Green (5:54), Jed Waligoski (3:16), Dylan Gluck (1:38), and Zach Buffington (1:01).
The high number of wins spoke volumes about the dedication and talent of the Wildcat wrestlers.
“We’re all wrestling up a weight class right now,” Wagener said, citing the multiple injuries to the team that have forced varsity regulars to be shifted around.
After the win over Tri-City, the Wildcats faced off against the state-ranked New Prague Trojans and were taken down 54-13, winning just four matches.
“The magic number is seven,” Wagener said. “Where can you find seven wins in your lineup and against New Prague that’s tough.”
The ‘Cats gave up five falls in the first five matches and quickly found themselves down 39-0 after six matches. Hemze won the team’s first match in a 16-3 major decision before Green won a 6-4 decision, remaining the only undefeated Wildcats wrestler this season.
Waligoski then won a 7-2 decision before Buffington wrapped things up for WHS with a 5-2 decision.
Wagener said the ‘Cats need to work on responding to fall behind earlier.
“We got punched in the mouth and we didn’t really fight back like we should,” he said.
By putting difficult teams like New Prague on the schedule, Wagener said that it challenges the Wildcats to improve their response and prepare for the postseason, “where the real hardware is,” he said.
“That’s why we toughen up our schedule, we want to wrestle the best guys out there, all for the end of the year,” Wagener said.
While the Wildcats wait for some of their varsity regulars to return from injury, Wagener said the wrestlers that have stepped up in their spots are going to make the injured earn their spots back.
“I think our kids are really wrestling well,” he said. “It’s going to pay off at the end of the season.”
The Wildcats are hosting Annandale, Mound-Westonka, and New London-Spicer tonight beginning at 6 p.m. This weekend, they will be at a 17-team tournament at Concordia University – St. Paul.
Contact Melissa Marohl at [email protected]