BEA opens against Rebels
How well the Bucs do in the upper weights could determine what type of season the 2010 wrestling team will have.
This year’s squad will have its work cut out to improve over last year.
In 2009, BEA went 4-1 in the South Central Conference to finish first and ended the season with an overall record of 24-4.
The Bucs were denied a State berth, losing to Jackson County Central in the Section finals.
While the Bucs have eight starters and 12 letterwinners returning, head coach Randy Wirtjes will have to fill some big holes, mainly at 125, 171, 189 and 215 pounds.
“We should be in good shape in the lower weights. In the upper weights we’re inexperienced at the varsity level. We’ll have to see if our underclassmen step up,” Wirtjes says.
Missing from the lineup this year will be three 30-plus match winners.
Daniel Eckhardt recorded 33 wins and six losses at 171. He took second in the SCC Meet and also qualified individually for the State Meet.
At 189, Cody Eckhardt finished with a 34-7 record and was the SCC champion at his weight. He also qualified for State.
Wrestling at 125, D.J. Gronewald was 34-8, took second in the SCC Meet and was third at Sections.
Although he missed several matches at the end of the season, Taylor Andrews was able to compile a respectable record of 22-9.
The Bucs have been dealt another blow.
A knee injury will keep junior heavyweight Josh Johnson out of the lineup until at least January.
Last year, Johnson registered 20 wins and 12 losses, and was second at the SCC Meet.
The cupboard isn’t completely bare for the Buc coaching staff.
Jake Wirtjes is one of three wrestlers who won more than 30 matches last year.
The Buc senior collected 33 wins and 12 losses at 119 pounds. He took first place at the SCC Meet, was runnerup at Sections and won a fifth-place medal at the State Meet. At the start of the season, Wirtjes is penciled in at 130 pounds.
Carter Hanson is another returning State qualifier.
The Buc sophomore was second in the SCC and Section meets at 152 pounds.
Hanson finished with a 32-10 record and will start the season at 160.
Senior Joe Franta posted the most wins last year. He was 36-4, winning the 140-pound title at the SCC Meet.
Wrestling in a tough weight class, Franta took third place at Sections and did not qualify for State.
For now, Franta has bumped up two weight classes to 152.
Senior Travis Hagedorn provides some experience in the lower weights.
Last year at 103, he posted a 27-13 mark.
At the SCC Meet, Hagedorn was runnerup and just missed going to State by losing a true-second match.
Hagedorn has moved up to 119 pounds.
Three wrestlers who have no varsity experience are expected to battle for the 103 spot. Alec Huber, Ryan Gronewald and Trey Wigand all wrestled on the B-squad last year.
A couple of varsity letterwinners have the inside track at 112 pounds, sophomore Jesse Alleven and eighth-grader Mike Ankeny.
Junior letterman Isaac Vasquez will be challenged by eighth-grader Luke Schavey at 125.
David Franta will open the season at 135. For the freshman letterwinner that’s up a weight class.
Once he’s off the injured list, letterman Mitch Heronimus will wrestle at 140. He was the Bucs’ 135-pounder last year.
Dylan Johnsrud, who has wrestled mainly B-squad, is the frontrunner at 145 pounds.
There will be some competition for the 170, 189 and 215 spots.
Senior letterwinner Devon Jahnke will be pushed by sophomore Chris Ramos at 170.
Last year, Jahnke had a varsity record of 5-6 and was 15-3 on B-squad.
Ramos, also a letterwinner, was 2-2 on varsity and had a 14-3 B-squad record.
Ramos could also vie for the 189-pound position. He would have to beat out freshman Kysten Zierke, who posted a 17-1 record on B-squad.
At 215 pounds, senior Jacob Black and sophomore Micah Twedt will be trying to make the starting lineup.
Wirtjes says Waseca appears to be the early favorites, followed by St. James and the Bucs.
In the Section team competition, Jackson County Central again looks like the team to beat.
Wirtjes says New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva and Maple River will also have good teams.
“I think we can win at least 16 to 18 dual meets. If we improve throughout the season we’ll be even more competitive by the end of the year,” Wirtjes says.
Assisting the veteran head coach this year will be Dave Pfaffinger, Tim Blagg and Travis Krinkie.