Parker wrestlers out to re-establish edge
That's the scenario heading into Friday night's Big Eight Conference wrestling showdown at Janesville Craig, matching the host Cougars against Janesville Parker. The 45th meeting between the schools figures to be another heated battle that has produced one of the fiercest rivalries in Janesville sports.
Parker leads the all-time series, 30-15, but Craig has won nine of the last 10 matches.
The Vikings, defending Big Eight dual meet and conference champions, are 3-0 in the conference this season. The Cougars are 1-2 after losing at Beloit Memorial on Tuesday night.
Parker's Ryan Holden, who is 7-0 for the season at 112 pounds and will be wrestling in his third intra-city battle, said nothing compares to Parker vs. Craig.
"It's a big deal to us," Holden said. "It's our biggest match of the season because it's Craig.
"Records never seem to matter. If you're 0-8 or 8-0, you know you're going to be in a tough match."
Craig coach Jeff Kaster, whose team is struggling with a young lineup, said there's always a lot at stake.
"It's for bragging rights in the city," Kaster said. "The majority of time, this match ends up deciding who was going to win the conference dual-meet title.
"We're not wrestling real well as a team right now, but hopefully with Parker on the schedule, we'll pick it up. This is still 'The Match.'"
Parker will be a decided favorite. The Vikings have five undefeated wrestlers and five with only one loss. The Cougars have only seven wrestlers scheduled to compete with .500 or better records, but freshman Siven Furseth is 12-0 at 103 pounds after manhandling every opponent.
Brennan Casey-Schmidt, Holden and Evan Cavey are a combined 21-0 for Parker at 103, 112 and 119. Holden and Cavey are defending conference champions, as is 285-pound Harold Lloyd, who is 6-0 this season.
Parker assistant coach Andy Tubbs said the starting weight class could have a big impact on Friday's match.
"If we started at the bottom or top of our lineup, that would probably be the best for us," Tubbs said. "We're real strong at the lower weights, and then we finish with our horse (Lloyd) at 285.
"It's still Parker and Craig, so we're not really looking at individual or team records right now. Just like they say in football, anybody can beat anybody on any given Sunday."
Kaster hopes the five seniors in his lineup can make a difference with their experience. Senior Blair Kessler is 8-4 at 189 despite a difficult Craig schedule, while senior Trevor Gregoire is 7-4 at 160.
"It's going to be a learning experience for a lot of our kids, especially for the freshmen," Kaster said. "They haven't got a taste of Parker/Craig yet and what it means.
"We're not a very good team right now, but I'm hoping that seeing Parker across the mat will change that. If you can't get up for Parker, then you shouldn't be wrestling."