Jasper wrestling returns abundance of depthNovember 9, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
JASPER — Nearly all of Jasper’s top wrestlers from last year are back this year, and coach Jace Brescher likes what he sees.
“This is probably one of our best teams since I’ve been coaching,” the eighth-year coach said.
The Wildcats sent five wrestlers to semi-state last year: Jainier Milanes, Ian Giesler, Jeb Prechtel, Sam Bies and Ashton Schuetter. They lost only Bies to graduation, and sport a veteran presence that consists of some of those semi-state qualifiers.
Brescher told the Herald on Thursday that Jasper is trying to figure out its weight classes for this year, but he’s very high on Prechtel and the things he’s been doing. Prechtel, a sophomore, made it to semi-state in the 126-pound class last year.
“He puts in more time in the offseason probably than any other person on the team,” Brescher said of Prechtel. “He loves the sport, and eats, sleeps and dreams about wrestling. So, definitely he’s a guy that I think will continue to see improvements — not just this year, or next year, probably into his college career. And it wouldn’t surprise me if he landed in a big school for wrestling.”
Giesler and Schuetter are now upperclassmen, as both are juniors. Giesler qualified for semi-state in the 145-pound class, while Schuetter won both the sectional and regional championships in the 195-pound class last year. Brescher sees the potential that they both could make it to state this year, and noted the leadership role both of them have assumed.
“Now with them being upperclassmen, I think the other guys look up to them a little bit more,” he said. “They’re respected, people listen to them and they learn from watching how hard they train in the practice room. So, they’re going to be great leaders for us.”
The Wildcats have some prominent senior grapplers as well. Will Collon and Quade Popp both made it to the regional round, in addition to Milanes going to semi-state again. Brescher told the Herald that Milanes was competitive against state qualifying wrestlers last year, and listed him as a candidate to finally make it this year.
“Jainier’s had a taste of knowing he can get to the state finals,” Brescher said. “He just missed it a couple times, and just by minimal points.”
Brescher touted Landon Fleck and Pace Clark as freshmen who could work their way into the lineup this year, but he added how competitive the lineup is going to be, and it won’t be easy for a freshman to find a spot on varsity this year.
He isn’t too worried about weight classes at this point — it’s a matter of moving wrestlers right now. Brescher usually begins to focus on weight classes when the holiday break comes.
Brescher liked the way practice started this season with how upbeat and intense it was — as Jasper wrestling got its football players early this year. He found it unfortunate for football, but said the wrestling team was excited to begin the season with the whole team, and added they felt like a team on the first day.
He feels like he says the same thing every year when it comes to conditioning — that it will take live matches for his grapplers to get conditioned, because going live in practice isn’t the same as a meet or a tournament.
This year’s schedule is also bound to be different for the Wildcats, who will wrestle the Raiders Jan. 19 in Jasper, and that’s it for home duals this season — the first of Jasper back in the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference.
“I think we were supposed to have a home meet with Forest Park, and since we’re in transition to the SIAC, we needed to see (Evansville) Reitz,” Brescher said. “It would be more competitive for our team. I think Reitz has more people on their team, and that would allow everybody to get matches.”
The Wildcats grabbed second place last year in final season of the Big Eight Conference, but they’re excited about the SIAC, and Brescher knows how great it would feel if and when Jasper gets to the top of the conference. He believes Jasper being competitive in the conference and in its duals will help the individual wrestlers, qualify, place and even win state.
Jasper is set to open its season Nov. 25 against SIAC foe Evansville Central, and Brescher thinks the Wildcats are in the running for a sectional title after just missing out on it last year.
“I like to look at the whole season as learning opportunities to prepare for the postseason,” Brescher said. “So, in my mind, our season openers — it just gives us a new image of the things that we need to work on, and I’m sure we’ll see a lot of those things that we need to work on, and then make adjustments from there.
“How are we going to fare? We’re still trying to figure out exactly what our starting lineup is going to look like,” he continued. “I don’t know if we’re going to have holes in the lineup, or if we’re going to fill every spot with a solid wrestler from 106 all through heavy.”
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