St. Croix Central wrestling team has experience, big numbersThe St. Croix Central wrestling team was the last local winter team to make its season debut, but the Panthers aren’t in any hurry to reach their peak.
The St. Croix Central wrestling team was the last local winter team to make its season debut, but the Panthers aren’t in any hurry to reach their peak.
With a back-loaded schedule that has all of the Panthers’ Dunn-St. Croix Conference matches being held in January, the Panthers can afford to take their time at the start of the season.
The Panthers began their season on Thursday, winning a dual at the Luck-Frederic-Grantsburg cooperative team, 45-26. On Saturday the Panthers made their annual journey to the La Crosse Logan tournament, finishing in fifth place.
There are 33 boys out for the wrestling team this season. This is such a large squad that Coach Brad Holzer has the team practice in split squads so everyone can get sufficient mat time. The side benefit is the Panthers are working in the weight room when they aren’t in the wrestling room.
“We’ll be really strong at the end of the season because we lift every day,” Holzer said.
Holzer said the Panthers return some top quality wrestlers, along with some freshmen who appear ready to make an immediate impact. With some sophomores and juniors who’ve improved since last season, the Panthers could have a productive lineup this season. The top six weight classes could include three Panthers with state experience (Cody Nyhagen, Kyle Aaby and Carl Moll).
“The upper weights are where our matches will be won or lost,” Holzer predicted. “We need those pins.”
The Panthers went 5-1 in those upper six weights in the 45-26 win at Luck on Thursday. The only loss was at 182 pounds, where Moll had to default due to injury after twisting his knee. Holzer said it appeared the injury was only a slight sprain and there is the possibility Moll could be back as early as this Saturday.
Winning on pins for the Panthers were Brian Gibb, Aaby, Lukas Smith and Max Kaul. Winning by decision was Austin Edison. Central also picked up three forfeit wins.
The Panthers took fifth place, but they were only 17 points behind the meet champion in Saturday’s tournament in La Crosse. The Panthers were without four starters because of injury and illness with Moll, Nyhagen, Kaul and Cody Gostovich sidelined. Nyhagen was scheduled to begin his season’s practice on Monday. He injured his shoulder in football and the coaches have been very patient in making sure Nyhagen’s shoulder has time to fully recover.
Five Panthers reached the finals in Saturday’s tournament, with three bringing home championships. Gibb won the championship at 160 pounds, Aaby at 195 pounds and Edison at 285 pounds. Smith took second place at 120 pounds, as did Delfino Carrasco at 220 pounds. Kyle Larson and Ryan Gulich each took fourth place.
The most dramatic moment of the day for the Panthers was Gibb’s win in the 160-pound finals. Gibb trailed with 20 seconds left, when he threw his opponent to his back for a five-point move that gave Gibb an 11-7 victory.
The Panthers will be competing in another tournament this Saturday. The varsity Panthers will be wrestling in the Osceola Invitational. The junior varsity wrestlers will be competing in a tournament in Glenwood City.