The Wauseon wrestling team has a solid group of returning letter winners who look to provide them with enough talent to have a memorable 2021-22 season.
The group returns a total of five wrestlers that made the state tournament last season — including two placers.
“I think we have a very hard working group of kids who are ready to continue the past success we’ve enjoyed,” said veteran head coach Mike Ritter. “We’re very excited to see what this team can do and how the freshmen progress. Very excited to host the Regional Team Dual event on January 21, 2022 to have a shot at returning to the State Dual Meet Tournament. We also have several wrestlers that have individual state placement goals that we will try and help them achieve.”
Notable returning letter winners for the Indians include Collin Twigg, who was sixth at 106 pounds in Division II and Lawson Grime, an eighth place finisher at 132 pounds. They also get back three more state qualifiers in Connor Twigg, Zaidan Kessler and Austin Kovar.
Also returning are Connor Nagel, Zaden Torres (district placer), Justin Duncan (district qualifier), Chase Santiago (district qualifier), John Martinez (NWOAL champion), Hunter Wasnich (district qualifier), Manny Gante (district qualifier), Trenton Keesbury, Carter Nofziger, Larry Moreno, Ian Martin and Benicio Torres.
“We will have a very balanced team which returns 5 state qualifiers (2 state placers). That’s the most state qualifiers we’ve returned from the previous year in quite some time,” noted Ritter. “Our roster numbers are up, which will provide some great depth and competition in the practice room. While this year’s starting lineup will feature a lot of seniors, we have some very quality wrestlers behind that group that will pick up where they left off in future years.”
Once again Wauseon will have a good group of newcomers, according to Ritter. “We have another good sized freshmen class who were a part of last year’s junior high NWOAL team co-champs. Several of those wrestlers have been junior high state qualifiers in past years,” he said.
However, they will have to replace Damon Molina, a three-time state qualifier that includes last season. Also gone are Jaden Banister (district placer), Ethan Kessler (district qualifier), and Jack Shema.
In the lead up to the season the Indians are also dealing with some injury issues.
“We lost several kids to season ending or near-season ending injuries, but with the depth we have, we will have to apply the “next man up” mentality to pick up the slack for those kids we are missing,” Ritter said.
Wauseon has dominated the NWOAL in recent memory. They have won five straight league titles and six of the last seven.
Last season, the Indians were first in the league, won a sectional championship, were fourth at district, and runner-up at the regional dual tournament.
“As returning league champions, we are going to do everything we can to repeat for a 6th straight year. If we can do that, it would be our 10th league title in the last 14 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,” Ritter said of the NWOAL race.
Wauseon begins its season at the Chicken Findlay Duals at Findlay High School Saturday, Dec. 4.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.