Two wrestlers take home first-place

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Two Blugold wrestlers won their weight class Saturday as they competed at the Pointer Open hosted by UW-Stevens Point.

Sophomore Nathaniel Behnke won all three rounds competing at 141 pounds and went on to win by a 4-3 decision in the championship match. Behnke made it to nationals last year and was named an All-American. He said he wants to improve on his results from last year.

“I just have to take it one match at a time right now,” Behnke said. “My goal is to make finals this year, and I definitely think I have a chance. But it’s still a long ways ahead and I’ve got to just keep pushing on.”

Steve Wozniak is the new coach for the UW-Eau Claire wrestlers this season, taking over for previous coach Jon Ames.  Behnke said practices under Wozniak are stronger.

“I think he’s been pushing us really hard,” Behnke said. “I feel like we’re conditioning a lot like this past weekend to outlast your opponents because that’s what you want to do.”

Eau Claire finished last in conference last season, but Behnke said the team wants to improve in the standings.

“We need to win some matches at least and prove ourselves to them,” Behnke said. “Eau Claire is expanding our wrestling team and we’re getting better. I definitely think we can do it.”

At 149 pounds, senior Ryan Seidler pinned his Eau Claire teammate, freshman Kole Hartwig, 5:47 in the championship match to win.

After not competing on the team last year, Seidler is looking to make his senior season count by being a national champion.

“I have some pretty high expectations for myself,” Seidler said. “If you don’t set your goals high, you’ll never be on top. I’m excited to see how the season plays out and make sure I stay injury free and just keep working hard.”

The 2013-2014 team has 18 members with nine new freshmen in the mix. Seidler said the team has the potential to do well this year.

“We have a pretty tough group of freshmen so I’m excited for the year to see how things go,” Seidler said. “In the past it hasn’t been super great for wrestling, but I think things are starting to look up a little bit.”

Three other Blugolds finished in the top three spots in their weight classes. At 184 pounds, senior Matt Rieckhoff ended in second place after injury and freshman Josh Cormican placed third in their division while senior Luke Ortscheid finished third in the 197 weight category.

Eau Claire does not have wrestlers in the 125 and 133 weight classes. The team automatically loses points for every dual they compete in. But Seidler said the team is in a position to do well against St. Olaf.

“Our goal is to win more matches than the other team,” Seidler said.

“Obviously, it’s actually nice to win a dual and I think we might have a chance this year at beating St. Olaf.”

The Blugolds compete in a dual tonight at St. Olaf (Minn.).

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