Wrestlers Set to Begin the 2011-12 Season
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – The UW-Eau Claire wrestling team will kick off its 2011-12 season Friday in Green Bay against UW-Whitewater.
Motivation is as important to a wrestling team as technique, conditioning or strength. Motivation can come from many different areas in one's life. The Blugold wrestling team has found that motivation in an unwelcome situation.
The loss of a teammate outweighs any defeat a team will face during its athletic season. Ricky Gonzales, a senior who was voted the Blugolds' team captain for the upcoming season, passed away from a tragic accident at the end of August. The team is dedicating this season to Gonzales and his family.
Aside from the loss of Gonzales, the Blugolds only graduated one senior. The team is a young but second-year head coach Russ Peloquin has a lot of talent to work with.
At 125 pounds, the Blugolds will look to John Duch (So.-Spooner, Wis.) to compete this season. Duch is a transfer from River Falls and could be one of the strongest at his weight class.
The Blugolds have two returning wrestlers at 133. Steven Fisher (So.-Greenfield, Wis.) and Neil Manns (So.-Columbia Heights, Minn.) will be competing for the starting spot. Fisher opened last season competing primarily at 133 pounds but finished at 141.
At 141, there will be a battle for the starting spot between two talented returners. Brian Reier (Sr.-Stillwater, Minn.) will look to finish up his career on a strong note after spending the spring of 2011 in Italy. Reier finished last year with a 6-9 record, recording two pins, but won five of his final nine competitions before leaving for Italy. Joshua Baier (Jr.-Inver Grove Heights, Minn./Rosemount), who started last season at 149 pounds, took fifth place at the WIAC Championships.
At 149, the Blugolds have a lot of talent as Ryan Seidler (Jr.-Adams, Wis./Adams-Friendship) looks to hold on to his starting spot. Siedler will be defending his spot from Zach Weisenberger (Jr.-Ladysmith, Wis.) and Brandon Stradel (Fr.-Denmark, Wis.). Siedler is looking to finish his first full season for the Blugolds after transferring from Augsburg a year ago. Weisenberger is also a returner who has been sidelined for portions of the last two seasons due to an injured shoulder that had to be surgically repaired. Stradel will be looking to make an impression as a freshman in this tough weight class.
At 157 pounds, Jacob Hoffstatter (So.-Stanley, Wis./Stanley-Boyd) returns and the Blugolds have added newcomer Ethan Skog (Fr.-Isanti, Minn.-Meadow Creek Christian). Hoffstratter competed in nine matches at 157 pounds a year ago.
The starting wrestler at 165 will have some big shoes to fill as the Blugolds attempt to fill the hole left from the loss of Gonzales. Levi Polus (Sr.-Winona, Minn.) will look to be a starter as he enters his senior season for the Blugolds. Polus wrestled last season as the starter at 157. Peter Ogren (So.-Minneapolis, Minn./Southwest), a transfer, will also look to compete at 165 pounds along with Mike Mello (Fr.-Prior Lake, Minn.).
Keith Dawson (Sr.-Neillsville, Wis.), a member or the National Guard, looks to defend his starting spot at 174 pounds. Last season, Dawson competed in 16 matches but didn't wrestle in any competitions during the second semester. Tyler Kennedy (Jr.-Cottage Grove, Minn./Park), Brett Jensen (Sr.-Barron, Wis.) and James Hennick (So.-Eau Claire, Wis./North) are all returning as well.
At 184, the Blugolds return sophomore Mat Rieckhoff (Wausau, Wis./D.C. Everest), who finished in fifth place at last year's WIAC Championships. He recorded three pins a year ago.
At 197 pounds, the Blugolds will turn to Luke Ortscheid (So.-Wausau, Wis./West) to lead as their starter. Competing primarily at 197 pounds last season, Ortscheid recorded three pins in 26 matches.
The Blugolds' heavyweight is also a returning starter that has not given up his starting role throughout his collegiate career. Captain Joe Pitsch (Sr.-Oshkosh, Wis./North), who recorded six pins in 30 matches last season and finished fourth at the WIAC Championship, will look for another solid season this year.