Cats best Rangers for first dual win of yearDecember 10, 2019
By COREY STOLZENBACH
JASPER — Tuesday’s local-versus-local wrestling dual went to the home team.
Jasper played host to Forest Park, with the Wildcats (1-1) picking up a 64-15 win against the Rangers (0-2). However, the final score of the dual does not tell the whole story. It doesn’t indicate how competitive some of those matches were.
The Wildcats won six matches by forfeit. Junior Evan Steinmetz, sophomore Ethan Beckman and junior Blake Nellis did not suit up for the Rangers. The matches in the 120-pound and 138-pound classes both resulted in decisions after going all three periods. Matches in the 113-pound and 132-pound classes also went to the third period before a victor came through. Wrestlers from both squads kept fighting and persevering even as their opponent nearly pinned them to the mat.
Forest Park may not have officially been credited with the win, but coach Craig Recker is treating Tuesday like one.
“I just think we’re getting close,” Recker said. “We’re not in wrestling shape, but we’re getting a little bit better every time we go out. I think we’re putting the effort in. We just got to finish climbing the mountain to get there.”
Junior Jainier Milanes, senior Chase Mehringer, junior Evan Crowder, sophomore Ashton Schuetter, junior Will Collon, and junior Quade Popp were the six Jasper wrestlers who scored wins via forfeit.
“Forest Park’s got some strong kids in their lineup,” Wildcats coach Jace Brescher said. “So, we told everybody to make sure they’re ready to go just like if you have a state champ. They got to be prepared for a good match whether they think they have a forfeit or not, and we all got prepared and were ready to go out and wrestle tonight.”
The Rangers did not let the adversity of being shorthanded deter them from a strong start in their first couple of matches of the evening. Sophomore Patrick Recker of the Rangers grappled with freshman Alex Hardin in the 120-pound class. Recker spent much of the second period trying to pin Hardin to the ground, though Hardin later fought his way back up. The third period began with neutral positioning, as Recker started on top before Hardin reversed the tide. Hardin tried to secure a pin, while Recker tried to escape. The Rangers sophomore had his hand raised after the third period following a 10-9 decision.
Junior Travis Haug competed in the 126-pound class for Forest Park, while Jasper had its own adversity to deal with. The Wildcats shuffled their lineup a couple of times on Tuesday. One of those times for the 126-pound match. Freshman Austin Wren moved from the 120-pound class up to 126 to take the place of fellow freshman Jeb Prechtel, who was not able to compete. It only took Haug 27 seconds to put Wren away.
That was the second straight win for Forest Park, but Jasper then won each of the next 11 matches, either by pin, decision or forfeit. One of those 11 wins in a row came when sophomore Jayce Perkins moved up from the 160-pound to the 170-pound class in place of junior Luke Ruckriegel. Perkins managed to take down fellow sophomore Austin Hoppenjans for the victory. Brescher praised Wren for handling things well since he is new to varsity as a freshman and had a tough opponent in Haug. He praised Perkins for giving extra effort, fighting and battling through the first period before scoring the win in the second period.
Forest Park made sure to go out on a high note, though. Senior Isaac Brosmer squared off against freshman Xavier Lopez of the Wildcats. Brosmer won the match, but Lopez took the semistate qualifier from last year to the third period before Brosmer got the pin. Brescher said more mat time will give Lopez more experience, and he got more opportunities Dec. 7 at the Evansville Reitz Hill Classic. Lopez hasn’t had much experience on the mat as he came out for wrestling in eighth grade.
“He wrestled really well on Saturday despite what his record (1-3) said,” Brescher said of Lopez. "I thought he made some improvements.”
Recker reiterated his point that not being in wrestling shape was a reason for the Rangers losing some of their matches. He expects his team to be in wrestling shape by the new year. Recker also said his wrestlers should have better movement from the bottom in addition to being better conditioned. Forest Park will have a quick turnaround. It is set to compete Thursday at Daviess. He said today's practice will focus 80 percent on conditioning and 20 percent on cleaning up mistakes from Tuesday.
“We’re still looking for sometimes what we call the big move — the home run, and if we just stayed simple and stayed with the basic move, we’d be better,” he said. “We’re trying to get to the basics, what got us where we are.”
Jasper will have a few days before Saturday’s Big Eight Conference Duals at Princeton. Brescher said the Wildcats will focus on hard work and different techniques for the next three days.
“I think as far as this weekend goes, it’ll be interesting to see how everything plays out, but I think we’ll be very competitive at the end of the season as far as the Big Eight championship is concerned,” he said.
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