Eau Claire wrestling continues to struggle

Story by Steve Fruehauf, Copy Editor

The UW-Eau Claire wrestling team dropped three tough matches at the Border Brawl Duals in Whitewater last weekend. With the losses, the Blugolds dropped to 1-17 (0-5) on the season.

The team’s first match against then-13th-ranked UW-Whitewater ended in a 44-0 defeat. Eau Claire Head Coach Jon Ames said a tough opponent and a few too many forfeits summed up their loss on Friday.

“I just told them that we were the underdogs so they have nothing really to lose,” Ames said. “We bumped around a little bit to fill in the weights so we didn’t have that fourth forfeit but still it didn’t help us out too much. We still didn’t wrestle to our potential.”

Their luck was much the same when competing the next day. The team first fell to North Central College (Ill.) 42-6 and then to Manchester University (Ind.) 28-24. Freshman Nathaniel Behnke landed the sole Eau Claire victory against North Central after pinning his opponent in the 141-pound matchup.

The Blugolds were able to find some success in their last bout of the weekend. While they lost the match to Manchester, the team had five different wrestlers come away with a victory. Sophomore wrestler Brandon Stradel said he thought the team ended the tournament on a high note.

“I thought we did really well against the second team (that day),” Stradel said. “We wrestled a lot harder. We just kind of brought it and we finished strong.”

Behnke, freshman Alex Kleinschmidt and junior Luke Ortscheid all pinned their Manchester opponents in their 141-, 165- and 197-pound weight classes, respectively. Also, juniors Steven Fisher and Jacob Hoffstatter finished with decisions in their 149- and 184-pound matchups, respectively.

Eau Claire will next compete at the Pete Wilson-Wheaton Invitational this weekend in Wheaton. Amongst those competing are conference foes UW-La Crosse, UW-Platteville, UW-Oshkosh and Whitewater. Kleinschmidt said the competition will be tough, so all the team can do is continue to fight.

“This next week we have the toughest tournament of the year,” Kleinschmidt said. “So our game plan is to get a couple wins and advance into the next couple rounds. We just want to advance and get some guys wrestling on Saturday.”