Injuries cost wrestling team in meet against UW-Whitewater

The numbers don’t lie, they always say. But while that may be true, they certainly don’t tell the whole story of UW-Eau Claire’s loss to UW-Whitewater Saturday night at the McPhee Center.

Despite losing the dual meet 25-17, the Blugolds went 5-3 in their eight matches against the Warhawks. What cost them were the two matches the team had to forfeit due to injuries, which gave Whitewater 12 uncontested points.

Junior Josh Holforty, who dominated his opponent 15-1 in the 197-pound class match, said the Blugolds’ performance was impressive despite the odds being stacked against them.

“We were giving up the two forfeits, but we still won five out of eight of our matches,” Holforty said. “We stepped up against a tough team.”

Coach Don Parker said the team wrestled well against Whitewater, ranked No. 10 in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association Div. III poll. He added it was tough to forfeit the 174-pound weight class match because the Blugolds are especially strong at the position. Injured senior and co-captain Joey Miller normally wrestles in that weight class.

“Our biggest problem is we got a lot of people nicked up,” Parker said. “It’s survival of the fittest.”

Going in to the dual meet, Parker said the main goal was to win as many matches as the team could because of the deficit the forfeits left them.

“(I told the team) it’d be a win for us if we win more matches than we lose, and we did,” he said.

Among those who took down victories were junior Andy Miller in the 135-pound class, sophomore Andy Johnston in the 149-pound class and sophomore Jon Ames in the 157-pound class.

Senior Nick Hoeft, who won his match 2-1 in the heavyweight class, said the team matched up well against the Whitewater wrestlers. Even with the strong performance, though, he said the team still looks to improve.

“We got to work on finishing our shots,” Hoeft said. “We just have to get more mentally prepared.”

Parker said the team should be healed up in time for the conference championship Feb. 24 in Appleton.

Next up for the Blugolds is a rescheduled dual meet against No. 3-ranked UW-La Crosse tomorrow at 7 p.m. in McPhee Center.

Holforty said the team has the ability to be competitive against the highly ranked Eagles.

“We need to wrestle the same way (as tonight) against La Crosse.”