Wauseon wrestling is looking to once again make some noise this season, hoping to garner a fifth straight Northwest Ohio Athletic League championship as well as other individual accolades for their wrestlers.
The COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges permitting, they should see much success this season.
“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 veteran head coach Mike Ritter. “This is a very hardworking, 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 and how the freshmen progress. We also have several wrestlers that have individual state placement goals that we will try and help them achieve.”
Notable returnees for the Indians include Damon Molina, two-time state qualifier; Lawson Grime, state qualifier; Connor Nagel, district qualifier; Connor Twigg, three-time district placer; Zaden Torres, district qualifier; Collin Twigg, district qualifer; and Chase Santiago, district qualifier.
Also back are Jaden Banister, Ethan Kessler, Jack Shema, John Martinez, Carter Nofziger, Mason Ritter, Hunter Wasnich, Manny Gante and Zaidan Kessler.
“Even though we lost a very good senior class, we still have a lot of experienced and talented wrestlers,” stated coach Ritter. “I think many of those kids are kind of flying under the radar. They may not have the previous season accolades as some of our underclassmen have had in the past, but they’re a pretty good group. Our roster numbers are up, which will provide some great depth and competition in the practice room. We’re going to have some good wrestlers on our second team, which is a good problem to have.”
Their newcomers will come from a team that were NWOAL champs in junior high. Furthermore, many of those wrestlers also qualified for state at the junior high level.
Nevertheless, the Indians did lose some experienced wrestlers to graduation. Gone are Nolan Ray, state placer; Samuel Sosa, state qualifier; Jarrett Bischoff, state placer; Ethan Glover, two-time district qualifier; Wyatt Lane, two-time district qualifier; and Wes Spadafore, district qualifier.
Wauseon, like other teams, will have to contend with issues the pandemic will undoubtedly present. Like getting their younger wrestlers experience if many matches are postponed.
“COVID issues will be something that we and every other team will have to battle all year. It’s going to be difficult to know what our line-up will be from week to week. However, because of our depth, we should be able to apply the “next man up” saying and will have full confidence on the wrestler that steps in for someone who may be out for an extended period. With a lot of events getting cancelled or scaled down, it’s going to be hard to find matches for all of our kids,” said Ritter.
The Indians did well in tournaments last year. They won the league, sectional, took third at the district, and were runner-up at the regional dual tournament. But in this abnormal year it may be tougher to win tournaments — particularly in a highly-competitive NWOAL.
“As returning league champions, we are going to do everything we can to repeat for a fifth straight year,” said Ritter of the league race. “If we can do that, it would be our ninth league title in the last 13 years. We are returning a lot of league placers, even though we lost some significant point scorers from last year’s team. I think we’ll be right in the hunt along with Archbold and Delta.”
As of now, Wauseon is set to begin the season on Saturday, Dec. 5 at the Findlay Duals. Wrestling starts at 10 a.m.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010