Janesville Cougars looking to halt Vikings’ title march
That question will be answered tonight as the cross-town rivals meet in the Parker gymnasium at 7:30.
Parker, the defending conference tournament champion, is 4-0 this season in Big Eight duals. Craig is 3-1 and can put itself right back into the thick of the dual meet race with a victory.
“It’s Craig/Parker. You don’t have to say much more,” Craig High coach Jeff Kaster said. “Other than the state meet, it’s our biggest meet of the season. Our season is never successful if we don’t beat Parker.”
Although Parker has dominated the all-time series—leading 30-14—Craig has won five of the last seven dual meets between the two schools.
Both teams are strong at the lower weights, filled with question marks at the middle weights and decent at the upper weights. That’s what makes the starting weight
so important tonight, and that is determined by a pre-meet draw.
Parker assistant coach Andy Tubbs would like to start at 285. The Vikings will be favored at 285, 103, 112 and 119.
“That would be an ideal weight to start at because in a match like this, you want to build momentum,” Tubbs said. “But we’re not too concerned with that. We’ll wrestle whoever is across from us.
“We’ve been building confidence as a team. We’ve wrestled in some good tournaments against very good competition and did pretty well.”
Leading the Vikings are the first four in the lineup. Freshman Austin Gonzalez is 23-4 at 103, while junior Adam Cavey is 23-6 at 112. Junior Brennan Casey-Schmidt is 23-3 at 11 9, and senior Evan Cavey is 24-6 at 125. Senior Travis Rucinski brings a 17-7 record into his bout at 135.
The Cougars counter with one of the state’s best 1-2 punches at 130 and 135. Junior Siven Furseth, the Division 1 runner-up a year ago, is 15-0 at 130 pounds. Junior Chris Pierce is 23-3 at 135.
“That’s why the draw is so important,” Kaster said. “If we start at 130, I’ll be curious to see what Parker does to match up with Siven because Pierce has been just as tough at 135.
“What worries me is staying off our backs. We can’t give up pins, and we have to win what I call the toss-up matches.”
Craig junior Jamie Kumlien is 23-3 at 125, senior Mike Spaulding is 18-4 at 215 and Drilon Grajcevci is 17-6 at 189.
“We’re ready,” Tubbs said. “We kind of match up our strengths and weaknesses at the same weight classes as them, so it’s probably going to come down to heart. Who wants it more?”
We’ll find out tonight.