By Becky Walz,
The wrestling room at South Winn will be buzzing this winter — both from the number of athletes and from the talent they possess.
With 11 returning letter winners and a host of young grapplers ready to shine in varsity competition, it will be a busy and productive season for the Warriors.
Leading the talented squad is Head Coach Jake Elsbernd. He has been with the team for 10 season. This year, he will be assisted by Jason Schmelzer, Ethan Adams, Kenny Mikota, Dakota Gray and Jake Everts.
Good finish last season
The Warriors featured 28 grapplers, including 11 letter winners. Throughout the dual season, the Warriors went 10-12 overall. South Winn put together a stellar line-up at the Upper Iowa Conference meet, finishing second to MFL MarMac. Three grapplers claimed titles including Ethan Maldonado, Logan Hageman and Damon Meyer. Four others came up short of the crown — Aidan Feickert, Zach Taylor, Lane Quandahl and Tony Greve.
At the sectional meet, the Warriors once again took the runner-up spot, finishing behind 10th-ranked Lake Mills. Four competitors finished in the top-two of their weight bracket, moving on to the district meet. Damon Meyer was the lone sectional champion, while Maldonado, Hageman and Greve all moved on by taking second. Claiming the district title, Meyer advanced to state at 220 pounds, while Maldonado was the runner-up at 126 pounds.
On the big stage, Meyer managed to bring home a sixth-place medal to cap off his season 21-5. Maldonado ended his state tournament early with back-to-back losses in the early rounds.
Coach Elsbernd has many reasons to be excited about the 2021-22 season.
At the top of his list are the returning letter winners and leading the way is Maldonado, who is looking to be a four-time state qualifier. At 126 pounds last year, Maldonado went 36-12 with 23 falls.
Other letter winners include Aiden Feickert (106 lbs. 24-22 mark in 2020-21), Kaden Bullerman (145 lbs., 17-14), Parker Timp (160, lbs., 14-12), Lane Quandahl (182 lbs., 33-9), Logan Hageman (182 lbs., 29-10), Sam Conway (170 lbs., 20-13), Tony Greve (182 lbs., 27-17), Ethan Timp (285 lbs., 17-4) and Kaydn Meyer (126 lbs., 11-11).
Coach Elsbernd also has a host of underclassman on his radar including Bo Wangsness (106 lbs., 8-21 record in ‘20-21), Brady Ohrt (152 lbs., 6-14), Quinn Huinker (170 lbs., 9-17); along with newcomers Lukas Weiss, John Donovan, Xavier Williams and Shayde Wermers.
It’s a full slate of returnees on the girls’ team including Josie Hageman (113 lbs., 4-5), Riley Meyer (145 lbs.) and Isabelle Kipp (170 lbs., 4-6).
With a large team comes some worries.
“We lack depth at some weights, so we need to keep everyone healthy to avoid potentially open weights as we compete,” said Coach Elsbernd. “We are hoping to be the best versions of ourselves on and off the mat. If we work hard and commit to making the right choices each day, we have the ability to be a very good team and achieve our goals.”
When it comes to the conference race, the veteran coach sees MFL MarMac at the top of the league, with the Warriors finishing in the top three.
“The amount of experience returning should keep us competitive at most weights as we get into the season,” concluded Coach Elsbernd.
The Warriors open their season at Crestwood Tuesday, Nov. 30, at 6 p.m.