The Wauseon wrestling program has been the cream of the crop for quite some time in the Northwest Ohio Athletic League and they will look to build on that reputation for the 2022-23 season.
The Indians also have been a factor at the state level in recent years, which has a chance to continue with seven previous state qualifiers returning.
“I think we have a very hard working group of kids who are ready to continue the past success we’ve enjoyed,” said head coach Mike Ritter. “We’ve built a tradition that our kids now strive to live up to and continue. We’re excited to see what this team can do and how the freshman progress. We will look to return to the State Dual Meet Tournament. It’s been four years since we’ve qualified for it, so we hope to get back to it. We will host the qualifying regional event in February. We also have several wrestlers that have Individual State placement goals that we will try and help them achieve.”
Back for the Indians this year are Collin Twigg (state placer), Zaidan Kessler (two-time state qualifier), Zaden Torres (state qualifier), Larry Moreno (state qualifier), Manny Gante (state qualifier), Benicio Torres (state qualifier), Justin Duncan, Brennen Long, Bailey Nagel, Zavian LaFountain, Braylon Miller, Mykale Schneider, AC Torres and Kale Waxler.
However, Wauseon will have to replace some quality performers off the 2021-22 team. Gone are Lawson Grime (two-time state placer), Connor Twigg (two-time state qualifier), Connor Nagel (state qualifier), John Martinez, Trenton Keesbury, Carter Nofziger, Hunter Wasnich and Mason Ritter.
“We will have a very balanced team which returns seven state qualifiers, which is the most state qualifiers we’ve returned from the previous year in quite some time,” said Coach Ritter. “Our roster number is pretty strong, which should provide us with good depth. The last several years, we’ve been hit pretty hard with injuries during the season, so quality depth has been very important. While this year’s starting line-up will again feature a lot of seniors, we still have some very quality wrestlers behind that group that will pick up where they left off in future years.”
Wauseon will be aided by the addition of a few newcomers to the roster, but most importantly, they will get back some key pieces lost to injury a year ago.
“Our freshman class is not as large (as in numbers) as we’ve had in the past, but there are a several wrestlers in that group who’ve had Jr. High state level experience. We also get several wrestlers back who missed the year with injuries such as Austin Kovar (former state qualfier), Ty Davis and Ian Martin,” noted Ritter.
In terms of the NWOAL race, the Indians have every intention of repeating as league champs for a seventh straight time.
“As returning league champions, we are going to do everything we can to repeat for a seventh straight year. If we can do that, it would be our 11th league title in the last 15 years. We are returning a lot of league placers, even though we lost some significant point scorers from last year’s team. The league is getting very competitive again. There are a lot of teams who have made significant improvements over the last several years, so we’ll have our work cut out for us at the league tournament,” said Ritter of the NWOAL.
They were also sectional champions and district runners-up last season.
Wauseon begins the season with a non-league dual at Archbold on Thursday, Dec. 1 at 6 p.m.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010.