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GLENWOOD CITY — After capturing its first Dunn-St. Croix wrestling championship in a dozen years last season, the Hilltopper wrestlers have been busy preparing to defend that crown in 2022-23.
Despite losing a trio of seniors which included second-team all conference grappler Thomas Moede as well as Marcis DeSmith and Carter Clemens all of whom played key roles on a Toppers’ squad that finished with an unblemished 4-0 mark in conference duals a year ago and were 11-10 overall, Glenwood City returns a stable full of talent and experience headlined by five first-team all conference wrestlers – three of which were state qualifiers in 2022 with two earning medals – and three second-team honorees.
“We return most of our lineup, so we have great experience,” stated head coach Shane Strong who begins his 14th season with a 141-102 record.
“We have some kids that have wrestled in high-level tournament at the state and national level,” he added.
Leading this formidable lineup are Glenwood City’s three returning state participants – seniors Ian Radintz and Gabe Knops and sophomore Wyatt Unser.
Radintz, a two-time state medalist, finished third in the Division 3, 113-pound weight class at last year’s state championships after taking home a state silver medal at 106 pounds in 2021. Heading into his final season of high school wrestling, Radintz sports an impressive mark of 87 wins against just 11 losses, eight of which came in his freshman campaign.
Wyatt Unser had an unbelievable freshman season which ended with a 34-6 record and a fifth-place finish in the 2022 WIAA State Individual tournament at 106 pounds.
Gabe Knops earned his first trip to state last season at 132 pounds and is looking to build upon that experience and his 22-7 record in this his senior season.
That trio will be joined by 20-plus match winners senior James Knight (28-9) and sophomore Mitchell McGee (22-15). Knight has been a past sectional qualifier that Strong says will be working hard to make a trip to the state tournament this year while McGee qualified for the sectional tournament last season as a freshman.
Senior Noah Brite (16-14), who also reached the sectional meet last season and is recovering from knee injury suffered during the football season, has been working hard to get back on the mat for a shot at the state tournament.
Joining Brite in that quest is junior Peyton Rassbach who has shown talent the past two seasons only to see both cut short by injuries. A healthy Rassbach would be a big asset for the Hilltoppers this season.
Others returning that made contributions a year ago include juniors Savanna Millermon, Connor Gross, Xavier Gill, Will Standaert and Jonas Draxler, and sophomores Elsja Meijer, Logan McVeigh, Jake Wood, Jackson Logghe, Andrew Blaser, Blake Fayerweather and Zeb Holden.
Last season, Millermon and Meijer both competed and placed in the first-ever WIAA girls’ state wrestling tournament which will be held in conjunction with the boys’ individual state tournament in the Kohl Center this coming February.
Newcomer Landon Obermueller will look to compete for a spot at 106 pounds and is hungry to make the lineup as a freshman according to Strong.
“Our goal is to improve every day,” stated Coach Strong. “We want to have the best week of training that we have every had every week. We always want to be getting better.”
While the Hilltoppers have plenty of returning experience the team’s weakness, noted Strong, is its lack of depth throughout the lineup.
Strong sees rival Boyceville as top competitor in this year’s chase for the conference championship and beyond saying, “Boyceville has some talented kids in the upper weights and some kids in the middle that will be much improved”. He also noted the Spring Valley/Elmwood has some “hammers” in its lineup and they always wrestle Glenwood City tough.
Assisting Strong again this year are Tim Miller and Austin Moe.
The Hilltoppers will open the new season this Saturday, December 3 when they host the annual John Timm Memorial Duals. Wrestling is slated to begin at 10 a.m.
Seniors: Ian Radintz, James Knight, Noah Brite, Gabe Knops and Aaron Brigham.
Juniors: Xavier Gill, Peyton Rassbach, Savanna Millermon, Conner Gross, Will Standaert and Jonas Draxler.
Sophomores: Elsja Meijer, Logan McVeigh, Jake Wood, Mitchell McGee, Wyatt Unser, Jackson Logghe, Andrew Blaser, Blake Fayerweather and Zeb Holden.
Freshman: Landon Obermueller.