Wrestling team fights for first win of season

Story by Haley Zblewski

UW-Eau Claire’s men’s wrestling team picked up their first team win of the season at the Dec. 3 Candlewood Suite Duals hosted by UW-La Crosse.

No. 5-ranked Cornell College (Iowa) beat Eau Claire 37-12, but the Blugolds bested Loras College (Iowa) in the second round of the dual 26-21. In the last dual of the day, Waldorf College (Iowa) got a win in over the Blugolds, with an outcome of 24-22.
“Getting that first dual team win, that was the biggest thing for me,” junior Tyler Kennedy said. “We hadn’t gotten that yet this year, and it wears on a team to not have a win yet. It makes it all that more fun to go into practice with a win under your belt.”

The day started out on a rough note for the men when they had to forfeit 12  points at the beginning  of each dual at 125 and 133 pounds.

Kennedy said that the team does not currently have a team member who fits into the 125 weight class, and while they do have a player for the 133 weight class, he wasn’t able to make weight. Because of this, the Blugolds went in to each dual down 12 points.

“It’s not a positive way to start out, but we managed to come back,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy’s performance was one of the many things that turned the game around for the team, Coach Russ Peloquin said.

“(Kennedy) made three pins, scoring 18 team points for us, which was big,” Peloquin said. “That’s the first time he accomplished that in one day. It was a big accomplishment for him.”

While starting out every dual down 12 points, Peloquin said he thought that the Blugolds’ performance was the greatest it’s been in three years.

“The fact that we came back from that to win one was pretty impressive and that we only lost 24-22 was impressive too,” he said.

A few things set the team up for their success on Saturday, Peloquin said.

“The strategy for Saturday was to wrestle every match the same, whether the team was ranked in the nation or a scholarship school, from open whistle to end whistle,” he said.

As well as picking up the team win, the men also racked up several individual wins on Saturday. Five other Blugolds grabbed two wins each.

Kennedy achieved three pins and Brandon Stradel  — a freshman in the 157 weight division — scored a pin as well as a major decision, earning 10 team points.

Junior Ryan Seidler and sophomore Matthew Reickoff both earned a pin and a decision while sophomore Luke Ortscheid from the 197 division picked up two decisions.

“We’ve been wrestling tough all year,” Ortscheid said. “But we really turned the page with this one and picked up our intensity and attacking style, became more offensive.”

Peloquin also said that the men picked up their intensity at the dual meet.

“The big difference in Saturday and previous meets this season was the way the guys approached it in aggressiveness,” Peloquin said. “They weren’t getting tired at the end of their matches which was great because we’re in this sport where you have to fight hard for seven minutes straight.”

Ortscheid agreed that it was the aggressiveness that helped the men succeed over the weekend, and noted that all of the men brought that with their performance.

“After giving up those twelve points, you pretty much need everyone to win,” Ortscheid said. “It was an overall effort by the team. The whole team contributed to our success.”