Wrestling preview: Raiders, Cats get a head start

Herald File Photos
Southridge’s Logan Meyerholtz, right, is among four returning Raiders who secured individual sectional championships last season. The Raiders also collected the program’s ninth team sectional title last January and are well-stocked with talent this season with a dozen returning wrestlers with varsity experience.

By MICHAEL HUGHES
mhughes@dcherald.com


Scouting this season’s area wrestling teams:

Jasper Wildcats

Last season
Finished second in both the Big Eight Conference meet and sectional.

First meet
Dec. 1 at Boonville.

Returning wrestlers
Corey Gould, Sr.
Austin Hildenbrand, Sr.
Leo Magana, Sr.
Justin Rottet, Sr.
Logan Smith, Sr.
Geordon Terwiske, Sr.
Mason Thewes, Sr.
Ethan Wigand, Sr.
Noah Heim, Jr.
Logan Niehaus, Jr.
Landon Betz, Soph.
Zach Flynn, Soph.
Matthew Rottet, Soph.

Key newcomers
Cameron Heeke, Sr.
Sam Herzog, Sr.
Austin Buechlein, Jr.
Quintin Gordon, Jr.
Matias Blok, Jr.
Zach Weisheit, Jr.
Jimmy Earley, Soph.
Caleb Edwards, Soph.
Abhay Rathee, Soph.
Mason Sermersheim, Soph.
Cameron Eckstein, Fr.
Chase Mehringer, Fr.
Kole Terwiske, Fr.

Jasper’s Ethan Wigand, right, earned conference and sectional championships individually last season. Wigand and Geordon Terwiske, another reigning sectional champ, headline Jasper’s 10-man senior class.


Notable: The pieces are there for Jasper coach Jace Brescher. The task now comes in connecting them together into a lineup. Returning are four wrestlers — Geordon Terwiske, Wigand, Justin Rottet and Flynn — who were regional qualifiers last season. Terwiske and Wigand also won their respective weight classes at sectional, while Wigand and Flynn did the same at the Big Eight meet.

“We’re progressing nicely,” Brescher said. “I feel like this season has been more productive than the last season and the guys are starting to go into the weight classes we think they’ll end up in.”

The Wildcats just started challenge matches, which means a vision for what the lineup might look like is starting to take form. Brescher feels the Wildcats have the talent on the mat, it’s just not all aligned in the correct weight classes, so he may have some wrestlers competing up a weight class or two.

Jasper has have the benefit of eight returning seniors from last year’s squad, combining to make about a dozen Wildcats who were part of last year’s runner-up finishes at both the conference and sectional.

Quotable: “I think our team this year will fare similar to last year’s team. We might be a little stronger because we have a lot of returning juniors who are now seniors, but we also have a lot of guys who aren’t at their weight class. They might be bumping up a weight class so they have a spot in the varsity lineup. We’re giving up some weight in exchange for that experience in filling out our lineup.”


Southridge Raiders

Last season
Sectional champs and Pocket Athletic Conference runner-up.

First meet
Nov. 26 at the Edgewood Invitational.

Returning wrestlers
Drew Dearing, Sr. (138 pounds)
Hunter Meyerholtz, Sr. (113)
Logan Meyerholtz, Sr. (106)
Jack Michel, Sr. (195)
Isaac Nunamaker, Sr. (170)
Mitchell Carter, Jr. (182)
Armand Hopf, Jr. (182)
Austin Kane, Jr. (145)
Price Painter, Jr. (132)
Wyatt Kramer, Soph. (285)
Patrick Sander, Soph. (120)
Tucker Schank, Soph. (152)

Key newcomers
Romario Valenciano, Sr. (220)
Jose Chavez, Jr. (220)
Tyler Bolen, Soph. (160)
Derek Brunsman, Soph. (170/182)
Chanler Balsmeyer, Fr. (132)
Austin Burton, Fr. (120)
Sammy Schroeder, Fr. (126)
Brad Springer, Fr. (138)

Notable: A year after a sectional title, coach Dave Schank is facing a unique challenge. Typically, at the start of every season he’s forced to dedicate a set amount of time to learn the basics that younger wrestlers might not know.

This year, Schank said that’s never been necessary, since even the freshmen have a wealth of experience on the mat, some wrestling since the age of 5. So instead of spending that time reviewing basics, Schank has been able to funnel more practice time into conditioning and actual wrestling, with the Raiders already competing among themselves in six-minute matches.

“I’m going to say we’re four weeks ahead of time,” Schank said. “If we had a wrestling match tomorrow we would be ready. I don’t know if we’ve been in that situation in a really long time.”

Schank is hoping this headstart leads to a different ending from last season. While Southridge won its first sectional title since 2009, the Raiders were edged at the Pocket Athletic Conference meet by Gibson Southern and underperformed at the regional, Schank said, with only one wrestler advancing to semistate. That was Mitchell Mundy, who advanced to the state finals but graduated last spring.

Southridge is still left with a wealth of experience returning, led by the Meyerholtz twins, Michel and Tucker Schank, who all captured sectional titles last season. Logan Meyerholtz and Michel also earned individual PAC titles last season, which leaves Dave Schank thinking his team has a higher ceiling.

Quotable: “We’d like to get our boys to a point where we can go up to regional and compete at that level too and advance to semistate to extend our year. But our goals are always the same. We want to get better as the year goes on and get tougher and get a little meaner to win sectional. In my opinion, we’re a much better team even than last year and we won sectional by 100 points or so.”

 

Forest Park coach Craig Recker will be focusing on individual gains this season with a six-man team. The Rangers are the first local team to get started, as they compete in a tourney Saturday at Bedford.

Forest Park Rangers


Last season
Finished eighth at the Pocket Athletic Conference meet and sixth at sectional.

First meet
Saturday at the Bedford North Lawrence Invitational.

Returning wrestlers
Luke Fleck, Sr. (145 pounds)
Bo McCain, Jr. (152)
Andrew Schuler, Jr. (heavyweight)

Key newcomers
Gavin Pierce, Soph. (195)
Isaac Brosmer, Fr. (106)
Cole Mohr, Fr. (120)

Notable: There’s no denying how much the Rangers lost from last season. There are two semistate qualifiers (Colton Glenn and Landon Fleck) and two sectional champions (Zach Brosmer and Josh Thomas) whom Forest Park coach Craig Recker lost to graduation.

The Rangers do have the benefit of returning Luke Fleck, who was a semistate qualifier two years ago as a sophomore, and they gain Pierce, who didn’t wrestle last season but has experience on the mat before high school.

Forest Park’s six-man team will be even thinner to start the season without McCain, who is still recovering from a back injury suffered during football season that will hold him out until around the start of January, Recker said.

“We’re going to get some experience in before some of these other guys are, which is the advantage,” said Recker, whose team competes in a pair of invitationals the coming two weekends. “The other side is we have some younger kids who don’t have a lot of time to get where they need to be.”

Recker said he’s noticed improvement every day during the first two weeks of practice, and he added there’s a base of talent and experience with every wrestler on the team. As the season progresses and the Rangers become more polished, Recker said each Ranger should be capable of giving fits to just about any opponent.

Quotable: “We’re going to put five or six kids out there who are going to be a handful to wrestle,” Recker said. “We won’t be as old or experienced as we were last year, but we’re going to have some good kids out there. These freshmen are also going to be wrestling in the lighter weight classes which should be an advantage since they’ll be wrestling a lot of other freshmen and sophomores and be able to compete.”

 

Heritage Hills coach Troy Bell will be tasked with overseeing another young team after doing the same last year in his first season in charge of the Patriots.

Heritage Hills Patriots

Last season
Finished sixth at the Pocket Athletic Conference meet and fifth at the Castle sectional.

First meet
Nov. 25 at the Mount Vernon Turkey Classic.

Returning wrestlers
Ben Waninger, Sr. (126 pounds)
Zach Gasaway, Jr. (170)
Mason Ayer, Soph. (138)
Will Dauby, Soph. (182)
Wyatt Keller, Soph. (220)

Key newcomers
Joshua Bell, Jr. (120)
Triston Harris, Jr. (145)
George Green, Soph. (152)
Aidian Rea, Soph. (285)
Ty Harper, Fr. (145)
Beau Heeke, Fr. (106)
Phoenix Rodgers, Fr. (160)
Sam Scott, Fr. (113)

Notable: The task awaiting the Patriots might be daunting, but at least it’s familiar. A season after featuring a starting lineup filled with inexperience, coach Troy Bell will send out a young team again.

“The dynamic of the team this year is kind of the same as last year,” Bell said. “We’ve got a group of freshmen that are talented but inexperienced and a lot of first-year wrestlers.”

Bell has the virtue of last year’s crop of freshmen returning this season with a full year’s worth of varsity experience. Ayer competed until the regional last season as a freshman, as Bell considers Ayer and Keller the “sophomore cornerstone.”

Gasaway and Waninger bring the experience, while Joshua Bell isn’t so new, having wrestled at Evansville Memorial before transferring to Heritage Hills this year. They’ll all support the next wave of young talent — the freshman group of Scott, Rodgers and Heeke, who might lack in varsity experience, but not talent or potential, Troy Bell feels. That transition will be led in part by the sophomores, who Bell believes, like himself, learned a few things after his inaugural season last year.

Quotable: “There’s a fine line between working with advanced kids and working with the first-year kids, but fundamentally I learned as a coach to be more patient with them,” Bell said. “The older kids are helping too. I say older, but it’s basically the more experienced kids are stepping up. The position that they’re in, I think they realize they’re almost turning into coaches, too, which is rare for sophomores.”




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