By Kelsie Hoitomt
GLENWOOD CITY — The Glenwood City wrestling team opens the 2014 season with 24 athletes on their roster.
There are however some big shoes to fill on the Topper team this year after seven starters graduated including four that qualified for the state tournament; Donovan Fornal, Brennan Kessler, Isaac Tuttle and Blayze Wood.
Also gone to graduation is Jeff Kopacz, Jake Carlson and Hunter Chouinard. These seven seniors all won over 20 matches as well.
Looking to help fill some of those spots are freshmen Austin Curvello and Jake Nadeau. Both have qualified for junior high state tournaments, but they are the same weight class so they will have to battle for the 106 pound roster spot.
Carson Strong is another incoming freshman with a strong skill set, however due to a torn ACL/MCL in football, he will not be wrestling until next year.
“We have a solid freshman and sophomore group with a strong work ethic,” said head coach Shane Strong.
That sophomore class includes returning wrestler, Marcus Ullom, Jake Logghe, Jake O’Meara, Spencer Peterson, Austin Wannemacher and Tanner Lanning as well as newcomers Dan Taylor, Cameron DeSmith and John Pagnotta.
Ullom looks to be a strong leader for the team and returns with 21 varsity wins under his belt.
O’Meara looks to play a significant role in the line up as well after missing last year due to a knee injury.
“Our greatest weakness will be our inexperience and lack of numbers in our upperclassmen,” said Strong. “We have struggled with numbers in our senior class since they were in youth wrestling.”
This year there are just two seniors on the team including returning wrestler, Logan Smith and newcomer Ludwig Canonge.
The numbers in the junior class are strong however with six wrestlers including returning athletes Hogan Chouinard, David Hoffman and Quinton Rogers and then newcomers Derek Siem, Cody Bonte and Paul Anderson.
“As a coaching staff we will have to be patient in the development of our young kids and the newcomers to the sport,” said Strong.
Development takes time and with that, the Toppers have a goal of improving every day in the practice room and then taking that to the mat.
“We have always focused on progress goals more than outcome goals. Certainly we will have some individual goals established to assess development areas and to encourage improvement,” shared Strong.
Coach Strong has been with the Topper team for five years now and he will be assisted for a second by Tim Miller.
The Toppers finished third in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference last season behind Spring Valley/Elmwood and Boyceville.
Both those schools return the majority of their athletes to the program and they look to be top competitors again.
The Toppers will not face off against a conference team until the end of December for the Northern Badger Tournament.
They will start their season off with the John Timm Tournament that will be held at home on Saturday, December 6 starting at 10:00 a.m.
The following Tuesday (Dec. 9) they will travel to Luck for a match at 7:00 p.m.