Buc wrestling returns with depth, experience
The boys are back on the mat, and they are happy to be there.
The 2014-2015 version of the Blue Earth Area Buccaneer wrestling team is already hard at practice, getting ready for their first match of the season when they will host cross-county rival United South Central this Friday, Dec. 5, followed by the Dick Maher Invitational the very next day.
How is this year’s version of the wrestling Bucs going to be? Head coach Randy Wirtjes is pretty excited to find out.
“We are going to be a very well-balanced team,” he says. “We have a lot of experience back, and we’ve got pretty good depth.”
The Buccaneers were 24-6 overall last year and were the South Central Conference champs with a perfect 5-0 SCC record. The Bucs lost five seniors to graduation from last year’s squad, including three (David Franta, Gus Phillips and Alec Huber) who combined had a 104-20 record.
One blow to the team’s plans for this season is losing Kolt Gorg at 160 pounds due to a football injury. He is scheduled to have shoulder surgery soon and will be out all year.
“That is a big loss, but injuries are a part of all sports,” Wirtjes says. “Kolt is a junior, so we are happy we will be able to have him back next year.”
Ninth grader Wyatt Tunglund is also out with a shoulder injury from football.
But, the Buc wrestling mentor quickly points out they have the depth chart to fill in where needed. And, that roster includes three returning state tournament entrants from last year.
Here is a breakdown by weight of this year’s Buccaneer team.
At 106 pounds, ninth graders Dalton Nagel and Joe Schavey and seventh grader Caden Ochensdorf are all in contention, along with eighth-grader Hunter Bleess.
Either Nagel or Ochensdorf will then probably move up to take the 113 pound weight class spot.
State tournament veteran Adam Legred, a junior, will be at 120 pounds. He had a 27-17 record last season. Backing him up are sophomore Cole Klinkner and freshman Jonah Legred.
At 126 pounds, junior Camden Bowers will start, backed up by senior Matt Goodrich and freshman Rylee McGuire. Bowers had a 25-18 record last year, Goodrich was 11-6.
Zach Buseman, a freshman who went to state last year as an eighth grader, is the 132 pounder for the Bucs. His record was 31-12 last season.
Jordan Stelter, a junior, will handle the 138 pound spot. His season record last year was 25-16.
At 145 pounds, it is senior Mike Ankeny, 32-10 last year, followed by junior Tristan Johnson.
At 152 pounds, junior Tannor Wolf (8-14) is followed on the depth chart by junior Ganin Johnson.
With Kolt Gorg out with an injury, sophomore Roger Ziegler will be filling the 160 pound weight class.
Luke Schavey, a senior, will be the Bucs’ 171 pounder this season. Schavey was 14-11 last season.
Senior Jacob Johnson (26-15) will anchor the 182 pound spot, and Jared Armon (17-23), a sophomore, will be at 195 pounds. Both will be backed up by freshman Trevor Oppedal.
At 220 pounds, the Bucs will have sophomore Jesus Quintero, but senior Lane Anderson is also vying for the position.
And, don’t be too surprised to see Armon and Quintero (or Anderson) trade weight classes once in a while, depending on who the opposition is.
Topping off the roster at 285 pounds is senior Martin Granados, who placed sixth in state last year and sported a 38-6 season record. He is backed up by freshman Damian Cornelio.
Also on the roster is junior Darrel Raney, eighth grader Akeira Morrow and a host of seventh graders; Caleb Beeler, Jacob Beeler, Jack Frundt, Jaxen Klinkner, Colin Lautherbach, Kolby Nagel, Dennis Sunken, Freddy Ozuma and Efrain Trujillo.
“I am really happy to see 10 seventh graders out this year,” coach Wirtjes says. “It speaks well for the future.”
The Bucs have changed up their schedule a bit this year, Wirtjes says. For instance, they will be headed to the Redwood River Riot Tournament in Redwood Falls on Dec. 19-20.
“This is a 32 team tournament, with a lot of quality teams coming,” Wirtjes says. “We are also going to the Canby duals in January. There should be four state-ranked teams there.”
The coach says his goal is to face some tough competition this season, to see how the Bucs can do against them.
“I want us to find out how we compete against some quality teams,” the coach explains. “We won’t worry just about winning; we’ll let the wins and losses take care of themselves.”
While the team has a lot of varsity experience, they are still green at several spots, the coach says.
“But, we have great leadership from our seniors and juniors,” coach Wirtjes says. “It is the key to our football team’s success, and it carries over to the wrestling team. This is a really hard-working group of young men. We don’t have to get after them to work hard, they already do.”
Coach Wirtjes is assisted by coaches Dave Pfaffinger and Tim Blagg and by volunteers Jay Frederickson, Ty Sturtz and Steven Wood.
“I think this should be a really fun year,” Wirtjes concludes. “We are excited to get started and see what will happen.”