Veteran squad returns to mats for Madison
By LARRY LEEDS, Sports Editor
The Madison Bulldogs lost just three grapplers from the 2011-12 varsity team due to graduation. Gone from a year ago are Derek Landeen, Jordan Shoenrock and Alec Olson.|
Madison Coach Chris Waba welcomed 22 freshmen through seniors at the first practice on Nov. 12.
Key returnees for the Bulldogs include seniors Brendon Waldner, Ayson Jones, Matt Goth, Wyatt Fender and Michael McComish; juniors Colin Johnson, Tyler Currey, Tyler Herren, DJ Redlin, Blake Gusso, Corey Welbon and Trevor Hoadley; sophomores Tyler Guthmiller and Dexter Nowstrup; and also eighth-graders Kaiden Dorris and Bailey Mennis.
Waba is hoping the success of the football team will roll over to the mats this season.
"You would like to think it would," he said. "We have had two weeks of good practice, and they are fired up and focused after the football season."
According to Waba, Goth, the most valuable wrestler last season who placed seventh at the state tournament, is healthy to start the season. Goth battled through a knee injury and a concussion last season.
Other wrestlers who participated in the state tournament last year were Dorris, Gusso, Currey and Jones.
Dorris was Madison's Outstanding Young Wrestler; Jones earned the most improved award; Fender was selected as the hardest worker; and Welbon was the Junior Varsity Wrestler of the Year.
Picking up 30 wins for the Bulldogs a year ago were Jones (30-17) and Gusso (32-16). Wrestlers who recorded 20 wins were Currey (26-16), Fender (23-20) and Waldner (21-17).
According to Waba, mat time will be the key strength for the Bulldogs.
"They have put in a lot of hours to become better," he said.
The expectations for this year's Bulldogs are the same as any wrestling team Waba has coached. "We always want to win the conference and send as many wrestlers as we can to the state tournament," he said. "We have five focused seniors on the team this season."
Waba's main concern is the depth of the team.
"We are not very deep for backups," he said. "We will have to forfeit a couple of classes -- and that will hurt us, giving up 12 points."
Madison has a very tough 2012-13 schedule.
"The tough competition will give us something to measure up to and will make us work harder," Waba said.
Assisting Waba this season are Al Bierschbach, Zach Johnson, Phillip Downs, John Niesen and Matt Joachims.
The Bulldogs will face Sioux Falls Lincoln on Thursday night in Sioux Falls.
"They will have a full squad, and they have been getting better each year," Waba said.
The remainder of the wrestling schedule is:
Nov. 29 at Sioux Falls Lincoln 6:30 p.m.; Dec. 1 at Canton IODAK Tournament, 10 a.m.; Dec. 4 at Vermillion Triangular (Madison and Tea) 5:30 p.m.; Dec. 8 at Watertown Dual Tournament; Dec. 15 Madison Invitational, 10 a.m.; Jan. 8 at West Central, 6:30 p.m.; Jan. 10 vs Huron, 6:30 p.m.; Jan. 12 at Harrisburg Invitational, 9 a.m.; Jan. 18 vs. Harrisburg, 6:30 p.m.; Jan. 19: at Arlington Tournament, 9:30 a.m.; Jan. 24 at Sioux Falls Roosevelt Triangular (Madison and Yankton) 5:30 p.m.; Jan. 26 at Brookings Invitational, 9 a.m.; Feb. 2 at Big 8 Conference at Hartford, 10 a.m.; Feb. 5 at Milbank Triangular (Madison and Sisseton), 5:30 p.m.; Feb. 7 Madison Triangular, (Sioux Falls O'Gorman and Lennox), 5:30 p.m.; Feb. 16 at Region 1A in Brookings, 10 a.m. and Feb. 22-23 State A Meet in Watertown, 10 a.m.