by ADAM GRUENEWALD
A close early home loss to St. James on Tuesday had lasting effects for the Central wrestling team later in the week, according to head coach Darrin Fox.
The Raiders lost to St. James, 36-33, and beat Trinity, 66-17, on Tuesday and then lost to Watertown-Mayer, 51-14, and New Prague, 69-3, but rebounded to finish second in a nine-team individual tournament at Trinity on Saturday.
Central 33, St. James 36, Central 66, Trinity 17
Central wrestlers hung with St. James in the opening match of a triangular on Tuesday, before being edged out.
Anthony Hennen opened with a 10-0 major decision at 106 and Josh Hendel added a pin with 31.7 left in the first period at 120 for a 10-4 Central advantage.
Ben Barth followed up with another quick pin at 126 and Davis Colley added a fall at 138. Jared Wickenhauser followed up with a 10-5 comeback win at 148 to put Central ahead 25-7 and Alex Meeker then won an 8-4 decision at 160.
In a close matchup, Jordan Kohls got a late pin in the third period at 182 to put Central ahead 34-24. However a pin followed at 220 and a forfeit gave St. James the victory.
Fox said the loss was tough, but taken as a team.
“One of the things about this sport when you wrestle duals is that it’s really important that everyone understands how they all contribute,” he said. “There’s times where you have certain matchups and certain wrestlers and certain kids go together where you look at it and say we all have to do our job… If we win matches, we all win it together, but if we lose matches, we all lost it together because we didn’t do our job.”
In the second contest, Hennen, Hendel, Barth and Colley all picked up pins in the lighter weights for a 30-0 advantage, which held up as a series of forfeits and close decisions followed.
“It was kind of an adversity match to see how the kids were going to react a little bit,” said Fox. “I thought they did a good job of coming back and wrestling to win. They didn’t put and didn’t hang their heads for the most part.”
Fox said Barth, in recording two quick falls, rebounded from a few losses he took the past Saturday.
“Ben is a kid who is still learning how to score,” said Fox. “He’s progressing from a confidence standpoint. He’s learning the sport. What we got to do is we just got to make sure those two things are working together.”
Fox said his group of sophomores and seniors are continuing to get better and improve.
“The biggest thing now we have to figure out is do we have the potential to follow through every time we get a chance to step on the mat,” he said. “Our competition isn’t going to get any easier and we don’t want it to… If that’s the case and that is what’s going to make us better at the end then we have to get up tomorrow morning and say we’ve got to get better.”
Watertown-Mayer 51, Central 14, New Prague 69, Central 3
Fox said his team came out “sluggish” in their opener against Watertown-Mayer.
“I thought overall we were very slow,” he said, giving credit to Watertown-Mayer as well. “I think we might have still had a little bit of a hangover from Tuesday… It was a good learning experience for our kids for the fact they need to realize if something like that happens, you have to have a short memory.”
Hendel got a win at 113, Barth lost a close decision at 120, Dodge won at 126 and Colley got a forfeit.
“Our lower weights did kind of what we expected them to do in terms of getting us some points,” said Fox. “But we didn’t get enough.”
With some wrestlers out because of a bug going around, kids wrestled at some different weights as Wickenhauser, Meeker and Steeven Smith all wrestled at higher weights.
“It was a good litmus test to see what they could do,” he said.
New Prague, who was in the state tournament last year, followed as another tough opponent.
Hennen wrestled a close match at 106, Dodge won at 126 and the lineup was shifted again as Colley moved up a weight to wrestle a solid opponent.
“He ended up losing by a major decision but had the kid on his back a couple of times,” said Fox. “He was able to score some points. His effort overall was really good I thought.”
Overall, Fox said his team lost a decent amount of matches, but also forfeited some to save energy at the end of a long week.
In finishing second among nine teams, Central had a number of standout individual performances. Pine Island won the tournament.
“I think the biggest thing I was looking for on Saturday was for us to kind of come through and finish well at the end of the week,” he said.
Shorthanded because of a few sick wrestlers, the Raiders were without Colley, Kohls, Michael Wretz and a few others.
“Not having those guys didn’t help us,” said Fox. “But I thought that we competed really well.”
Barth got his first-ever tournament win at 120 including a high scoring semifinal match that Fox said was good.
Among the second-place winners were Hendel, Dodge at 132, Josh Lord at 138 and Smith at heavyweight.
“He (Lord) had a really good day for us there,” said. “There were a lot of team points gained by him. He wrestled really well I thought which was good to see.”
Also, Hennen took third at 106 after losing his first match of the day, Wickenhauser took third at 145 and Dylan Just wrestled two weights higher at 126 and took fourth, Meeker took fourth at 170, Ben Hatterschide took sixth at 152 and Jake Daniels wrestled well at 160.
“He wrestled better than I would have anticipated him to wrestle,” said Fox of Hatterschide, who recently rejoined the team. “For him to get his legs underneath him and his lungs and all that stuff… he wrestled fairly well I thought.”
Overall, Fox was pleased with the results considering lineups were adjusted and kids competed at different weights.
“With the guys we had, we did well,” said Fox. “It was a good finish. The way I look at it at the end is we wrestled five, six guys at our normal weights. Other than that everybody was either gone or they were at least up one weight class. Realistically, not even half our squad was in the right spot and we did some good things.”
Central wrestling next hosted a double-dual with Howard-Lake-Waverly-Winsted and River Valley and will host another double-dual tonight, Dec. 19, LCWM and Tri-City United before taking time off until a home tournament on Jan. 4.
“We can do some good things when we have our full team on the mat,” said Fox. “We’ll try to get healthy and try to get better and make things good for the second half of the year.”
Contact Adam Gruenewald at email@example.com.