Hungry for more
With a regular-season title already in the bag, Spencer wrestling looks for a conference tournament championship
By Paul Lecker
SPENCER — The Spencer wrestling team has a chance to do something that has not been done in this century: win a conference tournament title.
The Rockets already won the Cloverbelt Conference regular-season dual meet title, going a perfect 6-0 during the 2014-15 campaign. On Saturday the Rockets will look to complete the double title at the Cloverbelt Conference Tournament at Abbotsford High School. Prior to this season, Spencer had not won a regular season or conference tournament title since 1999 when it was part of the Marawood Conference.
Spencer boasts a lineup where all but one wrestler has a .500 or better record, eight of the 13 wrestlers have at least 20 wins, and two—Daniel Wilke (30-6) at 138 pounds and Hunter Luepke (31-4) at 182/195 pounds—have at least 30 victories.
A big key to the overall team success this season, according to coach Jake Zschernitz, has been the influx of freshmen.
In addition to Luepke, Dominick Wichlacz (23-15), Bryce Shaw (18-15), and Caden Schillinger (17-17) have wrestled at the 106-120 pound weight classes, which was very important for the depth of the roster.
“We had a nice group of freshman come in, both with talent and experience-wise,” said Zschernitz, who was a senior on Spencer’s last conference championship team in 1999. “It is one of the most experienced classes to come up. They also eliminated some of the negativity that was in the (wrestling) room. They have a better all-around attitude to go with the talent and experience.
“The big thing too was that they were able to fill those first three weight classes, and we haven’t always been able to fill all of the weight classes. Half of the battle is filling all 14 weight classes to be able to compete in the conference.”
The Rockets have a number of wrestlers in addition to Luepke and Wilke that should be able to compete for a top spot at the Cloverbelt tournament.
Zach Schneider (28-10) at 170, Nathan Neumann (23-13) at 145, Hunter Hildebrandt (21-13) at 160, Tim Bauer (21-12) at 132, and Tyler Voda (21-14) at 182 are among the Rockets that have put up solid seasons both in the conference and in different tournaments throughout the season.
Schneider was second last year, while Wilke and Bauer finished third at the conference meet.
“We should be able to compete to win it,” Zschernitz said. “Neillsville will be right up there, Stanley-Boyd as well. Team scoring is different in a tournament, and having a full team is an advantage. We need to continue like we have in our dual meets: pin kids and not get pinned ourselves.
“I think we can get three or four champions and finish in the top two, potentially, in several in weight classes.”