Ready, set, time to wrestle
Although Blue Earth Area Buccaneer wrestling head coach Randy Wirtjes doesn’t want to get too excited, he admits he can’t wait for the season to begin this year.
“We have got a lot of experienced talent,” he says. “And some very good depth. If we can stay healthy, we should have a pretty good year.”
Pretty good might be an understatement. It could be really good.
Looking at the facts backs up the reasons for high expectations:
This year’s team returns 19 varsity letterwinners, along with 11 junior varsity letterwinners;
In all, the Bucs have about 40 wrestlers on the team;
BEA returns 13 section place winners, along with three returning state qualifiers Davis Sunken, Jaxen Klinkner and Koby Nagel, all seniors;
The Bucs will have returning, experienced wrestlers at every weight except 106 pounds;
The Buccaneers were section runners up last year and posted a 24-10 record, 3-2 in the Big South Conference;
And, if that is not enough for you, BEA is ranked at No. 5 in state for Class A before the season starts, by The Guillotine wrestling web site.
Here is a look at who the coach expects to hit the mat at each weight for the 2019-2020 Buccaneers.
At 106 pounds, there are five guys who are in contention, the coach says, and as of last week, it was still wide open.
The five are eighth graders Caleb Langager, Cooper Peterson and Dominic Morrow, and ninth graders Gordy Bruellman and Cale Borris.
At 113 pounds, ninth grader Carson Sturtz gets the nod, backed up by two eighth graders, Ethan Oppedal and Ben Anderson.
Sturtz has an 11-23 record and was fourth at section last year.
At 126 pounds Ty Peterson, a junior, is the starter and is ranked at No. 7 in state in the preseason polls. He is backed up by ninth grader Angel Martinez.
Peterson has a 38-11 career record and was third at section last year.
Senior Davis Sunken is wrestling at 126 pounds and is ranked at No. 9 in state at that weight. He has an 89-44 record and was second at section.
At 132 pounds it is senior Jacob Beeler, backed up by Brody Anderson, a sophomore. Beeler’s record is 22-26 for his career and he was sixth at section.
Senior Caleb Beeler will be wrestling at the 138 pound weight. He has a 54-35 record and was fourth at section.
At 145 pounds, Jaxen Klinkner, a senior, will be wrestling at that weight. He is ranked at No. 6 in the preseason polls. His career record is 81-54 and he took second at section last season. Backup at 145 is Parker Meyers, a ninth grader.
Senior Koby Nagel has the 152 pound spot. He was ranked at No. 3 in state Class A at that weight. Backups are freshman Nick Nelson and eighth grader Kade Gaydon.
Nagel was second at section last year and has a 71-51 career record.
At 160 pounds sophomore Adam Schavey will start, with junior Max Ehrich injured and not available at the start of the season. Despite that, Ehrich is ranked at No. 8 in state Class A. Ehrich has an 87-43 career record and was third at section last year. Backup at 160 is Cole Warmka, a junior.
Junior Nick Frank is listed at 170 pounds, with sophomore Kean Hicks at backup. Frank has a 17-18 career record and was fifth at section last season.
At 182 pounds it is Logan Johnson, a junior, with Kale Frank, a sophomore, at backup.
Luke Mertens, a junior, is the starter at 195 pounds and Nick Lawrence, a sophomore gets the nod at 220.
Mertens has a career record of 11-10 and was fifth at section, while Lawrence has a record of 5-15 and also was fifth at section.
Junior Ian Cornelio will be the 285 pound wrestler, backed up by Zack Christensen, a ninth grader. Cornelio’s career record is 15-11 and he was fourth at section last year.
“We really do have great depth, especially the middle weights, between 145 and 182,” coach Wirtjes says. “And most of these are pretty athletic kids. Many of them were very good football players and that can translate into a big wrestling season.”
Plus, the coach adds, there are a lot of very experienced juniors and seniors, and that also means some excellent team leadership.
“The older guys treat the young guys well and help them along in their wrestling abilities,” Wirtjes says. “All the team gets along really well together.”
Wirtjes has two assistant coaches, Dave Pfaffinger and Daniel Eckhardt. This will be Pfaffinger’s 40th year as an assistant coach.
Once again the wrestling season kicks off with the Bucs’ own Maher Invitational, set for Saturday, Dec. 7. After that they will travel to Lake Mills, Iowa, on Dec. 10, go to Wells to face United South Central on Dec. 12, and then have their first official home meet on Dec. 19, against Fairmont-Martin County West.
Their last action in 2019 will be heading to the River Riot Tournament in Redwood Falls on Dec. 20-21.
The team Section Tournament will be on Feb. 13-15 for teams and Feb. 20-21 for individuals which will once again be at Blue Earth Area.
“We are looking at last year’s section winner, Kenyon-Wanamingo, and us, BEA, to be contending again this year,” coach Wirtjes says. “And also Maple River and Medford, as they will also be good.”
It is going to be another really exciting year, the Buc mentor says, and he and the team can hardly wait to get started.