Wauseon wrestling is set up for another strong season behind a loaded roster full of key returning letter winners, plus several promising newcomers.
“We’re going to have to be creative in getting our best kids separated and all in the line-up to maximize our potential,” said head coach Mike Ritter of the 2019-20 season. “We have some guys who will need to step up and step in for our graduated seniors. This is a very hard working, and hungry group to show that we can continue the success we’ve enjoyed over the last several years. We’re very excited to see what this team can do even though there will be several new faces in the line-up. We have a goal of getting back to the Team State Tournament, but we understand that is going to take some hard work in the practice room. We’re also aiming for a fourth consecutive NWOAL title – which would be our eighth in the last 12 years. We also have several wrestlers that have high individual state placement goals that we will try and help them achieve.”
Leading the list of returnees for the Indians are Nolan Ray who is a NWOAL champion, two-time district champion, and previous state placer; Damon Molina who was league champion, district runner-up and state qualifier; and Jarrett Bischoff, a former state placer.
They also return Samuel Sosa (league runner-up, two-time district placer), Ethan Glover (league placer, district qualifier), Drew Krall (league placer, district qualifier), Wyatt Lane (district qualifier), Spencer Martinez (league runner-up, district qualifier), Evan Banister (league placer), Connor Twigg (league runner-up, district placer), Connor Nagel (league placer), Wes Spadafore, Mason Ritter, Johnny Martinez, Lawson Grime, Nolan Thorout and Hunter Wasnich.
“Even though we lost another great senior class, we still have quite a few experienced and talented wrestlers coming back,” said coach Ritter on the strengths of his team this season. “A lot of them have district and state experience. Our roster numbers are up, which will provide some great depth and competition in the practice room. We get back a significant contributor in Jarrett Bischoff, who was a former state placer that we lost to a season-ending injury last year.”
However, the Indians did take a hit as it pertains to last year’s graduating class.
Most notable were the departures of Gavin Ritter and Xavier Torres, both three-time league champions and state runners-up from a season ago. They also have to replace Trent Davis (former league champion, district placer, state qualifier), Aaron Harris (league champion, two-time district placer), Tristan Barajas, Brandon Rhodes and Michael Waite.
“Graduation will cause us to have to fill some pretty big shoes,” said Ritter. “You don’t really replace that kind of production, but we have a lot of guys who have been waiting their turn to be in that starting line-up, so they will get their chance now. Because of our depth, we may have some very good wrestlers that we are not able to get in our starting line-up. That’s a good problem to have and may be just as much of a team strength as it is a weakness.”
Coach Ritter is encouraged about his newcomers heading into the season.
“We have pretty large freshmen class who were last year’s Junior High NWOAL Team Champs, and also features several junior high state qualifiers,” he said.
Their deep roster should bode well for them as they look to win their fourth straight NWOAL title and fifth in six years.
Last season they won a league and sectional title, were district runner-up, and second at a regional dual tournament.
“As returning league champions, we are going to do everything we can to repeat for a fourth straight year,” said Ritter. “We are returning a lot of league placers, even though we lost some significant point scorers from last year’s team. However, I think the league will be pretty balanced. This year will be the first year that our league champion will be crowned solely on the league tournament. We have eliminated the required league dual meets that used to factor into the league title. We have still scheduled dual meets with some of our league schools, but they will have no bearing on the league title.”
Wauseon begins the season on Saturday at the Trojan Duals in Findlay.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010