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GLENWOOD CITY — The Hilltopper wrestling team enjoyed one of it best seasons in program history last year as it captured a second consecutive Dunn-St. Croix Conference championship with an unblemished 4-0 mark, finished as the super regional runner-up and team sectional runner-up, and were the Northern Badger Division 3 (small school) and John Timm Memorial Duals champions.
That remarkable season culminated with a 14-8 record.
Glenwood City might be challenged to not only repeat that success this season or even exceed it considering they lost four outstanding wrestlers via graduation last spring. Departing the program were Ian Radintz, a three-time state medalist including a third-place finish in last season’s Division 3, 126-pound state bracket who tallied 129 career victories; four-year varsity starter and one-time state qualifier Gabe Knops; three-time sectional competitor James Knight; and Noah Brite, a two-time section qualifier.
The 2023-24 squad has its sights set on a conference championship three-peat and more thanks to the return of 11 starters and 13 letter winners off of last year’s championship team and a crop of 11 incoming freshmen that will give the Hilltoppers something they have been without in seasons past – depth.
Glenwood City will be led this season by a trio of 2023 state participants. Wyatt Unser is coming off a 40-2 sophomore season that saw him finish as the state runner-up at 113 pounds in Division 3. Unser also earned a state medal his freshman year. Fellow junior Mitchell McGee and senior Savanna Millermon joined Unser at last year’s tournament. Millermon won a second straight state medal taking fourth in the girls’ 107-pound weight class while McGee competed in his first state meet at 138 pounds.
Another one of those returning starters and letter winners that the Hilltoppers will likely lean on for key wins is sophomore Landon Obermueller, who won nearly 30 matches in his first varsity season.
“We return all of our upper weights,” said Glenwood City head coach and wrestling architect Shane Strong. “They are a year stronger and more skilled than a year ago.”
Senior Peyton Rassbach, a sectional qualifier from a season ago before he was injured in the team sectional duals, will play a vital role in this year’s team success as well.
Strong stated that one of this year’s team strengths is leadership.
“We have kids of great character, which will be beneficial to our younger kids. Our leaders will establish our practice expectations and how we train as a team,” stated Strong.
The freshmen recruits which include three that have qualified for youth state multiple times should add depth to the team’s line-up and create great competition in the practice room according to Strong.
An area of weakness may be the team’s lack of depth in the upper weights.
“We will need to stay healthy (up top) to compete well as a team,” noted Strong.
The Hilltoppers have team standards that they strive to achieve both on and off the mat.
“We don’t focus on goals as much as we focus on meeting the standards,” added the coach.
In conference duals, Strong has Boyceville pegged as a top contender.
“They are well coached and they have tradition on their side,” said Strong of the Bulldogs.
He also noted that Spring Valley/Elmwood should be much improved thanks to a strong freshmen class.
As for the WIAA tournament, Strong has tabbed Stratford and Cumberland as the sectional favorites. Glenwood City defeated Cumberland in last year’s D3 team sectional semifinal before falling to Stratford in the championship.
“We will need to improve throughout the year to give us a chance to beat them come tournament time,” he concluded.
Strong, who begins his 15th season as head coach with 155-110 record, will be assisted by Tim Miller and Austin Moe once again.
The Hilltoppers will open the new season this Saturday, December 2 when they host the annual John Timm Memorial Duals. Wrestling will begin at 10 a.m.
Seniors: Savanna Millermon, Peyton Rassbach, Will Standaert, Steven Booth, and Conner Gross,
Juniors: Wyatt Unser, Logan McVeigh, Zeb Holden, Jake Wood, Andrew Blaser, Mitchell McGee, Jackson Logghe, and Blake Fayerweather
Sophomores: Landon Obermueller, Ben Standaert, Greta Draxler, and Micah Simmons
Freshmen: Will Obermueller, Preston Arvey, Corey Strong, Charlie Bogie, Logan Hillman, Brock Wood, Sawyer Bischel, Abe Draxler, Zach Bacon, Waylon Wagner, and Gus Kohler