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Wrestlers face tough competition in Wisconsin

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Billy Poray (‘18) wrestles at the intersquad meet earlier in the year.

Billy Poray (‘18) wrestles at the intersquad meet earlier in the year.

Kien Dao (‘20) | Photo Bureau

Kien Dao (‘20) | Photo Bureau

Billy Poray (‘18) wrestles at the intersquad meet earlier in the year.

Gillian Klein, Staff Writer

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Luther College Wrestling traveled to the University of Wisconsin-Parkside for the annual Jim Koch Wisconsin Open. Junior colleges, and NCAA Division I, II, and III teams took the mats on Saturday, Dec. 2. Luther brought 22 of their 32 wrestlers on the roster.

The meet was set up with a 16-18 man bracket for each weight class. Through the process of double elimination, wrestlers worked their way through matches to the semifinals and finals.

14 schools competed and hundreds of spectators filled the bleachers to watch.

A variety of schools and spectators gathered for more than just the competition on Saturday, according to senior Izzac Suarez (‘18).

“This year, the tournament was larger because the man this tournament was named after passed away at the Division I Nationals competition last year while out running,” Suarez said. “This was cause for many people to come support [the]competition and commemorate the passing of Koch.”

Wrestlers arrived Saturday morning for weigh-in at 6:30 a.m. with matches beginning on the clock at 9 a.m. Hunter Weaver (‘20) and Keenan Feldpausch (‘20) competed in the elite division with Weaver placing sixth in the 197 lb. weight class and Feldpausch placing fourth in the heavyweight class. Feldpausch emphasized the tough competition wrestlers face not only in this tournament but in all college-level competition.

“College-level wrestling is a different kind of beast than in high school,” Feldpausch said. “In the preseason, we are on the mats each week, wrestling three to four times live, just trying to give guys an idea of what the season will entail.”

Preparation for this season has been different from the past because, of the 32 team members 18 are sophomores and first-years. The coaching staff emphasized toughness in practice as well as the weightroom.

Assistant Wrestling Coach Billy Huebner highlighted the specific preparation tactics Luther’s team used this preseason.

“We have spent a lot of time emphasizing a tough mindset, specifically that guys need to be scrappy,” Huebner said. “We have also emphasized more on our lifting program all the while working hard to be battlers every time we step on the mat.”

Several of Luther’s wrestlers were matched up against tough competition. In the 157 lb. weight class, Suarez lost against Division I Purdue’s Cole Wysocki, ending in a technical foul with a score of 17-1.

In the heavyweight bracket, Luther’s Hunter Parks (‘21) wrestled Division II Maryville University’s Logan Radik and Parks won the match with a 6-4 decision in his second match. Parks continued on to the next round and lost to his own teammate, Feldpausch.

In the 165 lb. weight class, Michael Suarez (‘18) won his first match against Triton College’s Eric Dobbins after Suarez’s pin of Dobbins at a time of 6:46 in the match. These matches were just a few of the many tough competitors Luther wrestlers faced on Saturday.

The outcome of this tournament did not affect national team rankings and only affected individual wrestlers’ standings in the conference. According to Head Wrestling Coach Dave Mitchell competing in these kinds of tournaments is beneficial to the team’s adaptability to different competitive levels.

“This tournament exposes our wrestlers to different styles of wrestling that we don’t regularly see in Iowa,” Mitchell said. “A bus trip to eastern Wisconsin on Lake Michigan to compete against quality Division II opponents is a great experience for our young team.”

Tournaments like the Jim Koch Wisconsin Open also help prepare the team for the conference dual meets that affect the team’s national rating, such as the team’s next dual against the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse on Friday, Dec. 8. 

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