Parker wrestlers draw a tough opener
Parker High, which won last year’s Big Eight meet, opens the season tonight against preseason favorite Beloit Memorial. The Purple Knights return five conference champions from a team that won the dual title last year.
“It’s so early in season for such a big match,” Parker head coach Ron Cramer said of the trip to Beloit. “Last year we ran into a similar thing where we ran into Beloit and lost 31-30, and then came back and beat them in the conference tournament.”
But Parker’s 2007-08 team boasted three state qualifiers—Alex Folk, Harold Lloyd and Ryan Holden. Those three have graduated, leaving the Vikings with major holes to fill.
That’s not unusual or problematic for a Parker program that has won 29 conference or dual meet titles since Cramer’s first year in 1967-68. The Vikings always seem to have solid wrestlers who have bided their time at the junior varsity level waiting their turn to step up.
“We always set a team goal to be the conference champion,” said Cramer, who is recuperating from late-October hip surgery. “If you can accomplish those team goals, then the individual goals will come along.”
With the season opener at hand, the Vikings have pretty much settled on a starting lineup.
Sophomore Adam Cavey will be 103. He played basketball last year at Parker, but comes from a strong youth wrestling background
One of the few battles is at 112 pounds. Kate Perkins is challenging Ryan Riley. Both saw limited varsity action last year. The two met in the finals of the Wisconsin Dells tournament.
Sectional qualifier Evan Cavey steps up at 119. He finished 21-11 last year and his third-place regional finish earned him a sectional berth.
Sophomore Brennan Casey-Schmidt will make a big jump from 103 to 125. He finished third in the conference last year and qualified for the sectional meet. He finished 31-7.
“Brennan had a big muscle and growth spurt during the offseason,” Parker co-coach Andy Tubbs aid.
The Vikings have a battle at 130 between junior Brandon Zeilinger and senior Anthony Serrano. Neither has any varsity experience.
Travis Rucinski will move up from 130 to 135. He had a 15-17 record last year and finished fourth in the Big Eight meet.
“He improved a lot as the year went on,” Tubbs said.
Junior Josh Lindas will be at 140. He saw more action as a freshman than as a sophomore.
A key returnee for Parker is 145-pounder Cody St. Michael. The senior finished 15-8 last year and was a third-place finisher in the conference meet.
Junior Ryan Burns, who transferred from Janesville Craig two years ago, is a tentative starter at 152. He did not see much varsity action last season.
Senior David Arndt returns at 160 pounds. He finished third in the league last season and posted a 22-14 record.
Senior Alex Fetting moves in at 171. He had an 8-7 record last year, seeing action when Enio Perez suffered an injury.
Senior Jacob Bailey, a linebacker on the Parker football team, moves up from 152, where he posted a 15-16 record last season, to 189.
“He’s a real leader,” Tubbs aid.
Parker’s only other positional battle appears to be at 215 between senior Matt Houchin and Junior Aaron Polzin. Houchin battled injuries last year en route to an 8-6 record. Most of Polzin’s action came at the JV level.
It will be up to senior all-conference football lineman Alex Craker to try to fill the big shoes vacated by Lloyd. Virtually all of Craker’s mat time last year came at the JV level.
“We’ll be OK,” Cramer said. “It’s just going to take a while to get these kids going.”
And how does the long-time coach size up the Big Eight?
“Beloit should be the hands-down favorite,” Cramer said. “I think Middleton has a few state qualifiers coming back. Verona coming in will be exceptional. I think the league will be more balanced than ever.”
Parker’s 2008-09 schedule:
DECEMBER: 2—At Beloit Memorial. 5—Madison East multi-duals. 12—Madison West. 16—At Verona. 20—Fond du Lac Invitational. 29-30—Mid-States Classic, at UW-Whitewater.
JANUARY: 8—Sun Prairie. 10—Elkhorn Invitational. 13—At Janesville Craig. 16—Madison La Follette. 29—Middleton. 31—Wisconsin Dells Invitational.
FEBRUARY: 4—At Madison Memorial. 7—Big Eight Conference meet, at Beloit. 14—WIAA Division 1 regional, at Madison La Follette. 17—WIAA Division 1 team sectional, at Stoughton. 21—WIAA Division 1 individual sectionals, at Verona.