Janesville56.4°

Craig wrestlers a young team

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JOHN N. BARRY
November 29, 2007
— It won’t take long for Janesville Craig wrestling coach Jeff Kaster to get a pulse on his young but talented team.

Craig High begins Big Eight Conference action Friday night at home against an experienced Middleton team before competing in the Oconomowoc Invitational Saturday against the likes of Wisconsin Rapids, Hartland Arrowhead, Oconomowoc and Sugar River. Wisconsin Rapids has won 12 of the last 13 WIAA Division 1 state titles.


“We may take our lumps when we go to Oconomowoc, but I’m real positive about the potential on this team,” Kaster said. “We’ve got probably the best freshmen class we’ve ever had, and a great group of seniors that are working hard and have meant a great deal to this program.


“Our numbers are down, but that means more mat time for some kids. There’s some question marks at a couple of weight classes, and I’m looking at that as way for somebody to step up and take control.”


The Cougars, who saw an eight-year Big Eight Conference dual-meet domination end a year ago, finished second in the duals in 2007 and third at the conference tournament.


Craig returns eight varsity wrestlers, but graduated conference champion and state qualifier Brad Soots, along with state qualifier Brady Hamil.


Seniors Trevor Gregoire and Blair Kessler are the top returnees. Both finished third at the sectional meet a year ago and will be counted on heavily this season.


“Trevor could be a sleeper this season,” Kaster said of his 160-pounder. “He’s worked hard and is an animal on the mat. I wouldn’t be surprised is he wrestled at state this year.


“Ben is, pound-for-pound, just a real strong kid,” Kaster said. “He’s going to win a lot of matches on strength alone. He’s at 189 right now, but he could move up if we need him to.”


The other returning varsity starters are junior Chris Simonson, 119; junior Travis Davis, 125; sophomore Jesse Davilia, 130; junior Troy Davis, 135;and senior Alex Kaster, 152. Senior Boyd Maske was a part-time varsity wrestler a year ago and will likely open at 215.


Kaster is eager to see his freshmen in action, starting with 103-pounder Siven Furseth. As five or six freshmen could crack the starting lineup.


“Siven’s as good a freshman wrestler as I’ve seen,” Kaster said. “He’s wrestled all over the world in different tournaments, and it shows.


“The thing with Siven, and the rest of the freshmen who are going to wrestle varsity, is that they have to remember that winning is not going to come as easily as it has in the past. A lot of times, they’re going to be on the mat with juniors and seniors who have a lot more varsity experience.”


Two freshmen—Chris Pierce and Jamie Kumlien—are battling for the top spot at 112, while sophomores Kevin Wells and Ian Kopp will likely open up at 140 and 145, respectively.


Sophomore Drilon Grajcebci is the front-runner at 171, with seniors Brian Doman and Tyler James vying for the 285-pound class.


Craig’s schedule:


NOVEMBER: 30—Middleton, 7 p.m.


DECEMBER: 1—Oconomowoc Invitational, 9 a.m.; 7—At Madison Memorial, 7 p.m.; 14—West Allis Invitational, 6 p.m.; 15—West Allis Invitational, 11 a.m.; 18—At Beloit Memorial, 7 p.m.; 21—Janesville Parker, 7 p.m.; 29—Sun Prairie Multi-Dual Tournament, 9:30 a.m.


JANUARY: 4—Madison West, 7:30 p.m.; 5—Craig Invitational, 10 a.m.; 12—Racine Case Invitational, 10 a.m.; 18—At Madison East, 7 p.m.; 19— Monroe Invitational, 9:30 a.m.; 22—Madison La Follette, 7 p.m.


FEBRUARY: 1— Big Eight Conference Tournament (Middleton), 4:30 p.m.



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