Changing their fortunes
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Spencer/Columbus looks for a championship
By Paul Lecker
SPENCER – The Spencer/Columbus Catholic wrestling team has finished second at the Cloverbelt Conference Meet in each of the past three seasons.
The Rockets are looking to change their fortunes, but first have their sights set on a regular-season title.
Following a dominating 62-12 win over Abbotsford/Colby on Jan. 18 at Spencer High School, the Rockets improved to 6-0 in Cloverbelt Conference duals and can wrap up an outright regular-season championship with a win at Osseo-Fairchild/Augusta/Fall Creek on Thursday at Osseo-Fairchild.
“We’re rolling pretty good,” Spencer/Columbus Coach Jake Zschernitz said. “We’re wrestling good right now, a few injuries, a little banged up. We’re looking at getting healthier and some guys possibly cutting some weight, I don’t know, that will play itself out. I think we’re wrestling really well at the right time, and we’ll see what happens.”
All five of the Rockets that won Cloverbelt titles a year ago are back looking for another.
Senior Hunter Luepke, a defending WIAA Division 2 state champion at 195 pounds, has moved up to 220 and is as dominating as ever. Luepke is 33-0 this season and is looking for his fourth-straight conference title.
Logan Zschernitz, a junior who was third at 285 at the state tournament, is 28-2 this year, and he will be going for back-to-back conference titles.
Ashton Ackman (106 pounds), Dominick Wichlacz (120), and Carson Hildebrandt (170) also will defend their Cloverbelt championships at the conference tournament Feb. 3 at Osseo-Fairchild.
Wichlacz won his 100th career match in placing third at the St. Croix Falls Invitational on Jan. 20 and is 27-7 this season.
Luepke won a title at the tournament, with Bryce Shaw (22-6) placing second at 145. Leo Rodriguez (113) and Hildebrandt took fourth, Caden Schillinger (152) was seventh, Colton Schillinger (132) finished eighth, as the Rockets took eighth place out of 20 teams at the meet.
The depth and experience of the Rockets’ lineup has the team psyched for a strong postseason run.
“I knew coming into the season we had a really good team,” Jake Zschernitz said. “It was senior night tonight and the seniors (Wichlacz, Shaw, Caden Schillinger, and Luepke) have really stepped up all year. The underclassmen have been winning matches when they need to be.
“It’s pretty fun to watch (Luepke and Zschernitz). We’re pretty fortunate to probably have the two best athletes to ever come through this gym at the same time, on the same team. It’s pretty awesome.”
Following the Cloverbelt meet, Spencer/Columbus will compete in the WIAA postseason in Division 2, with regionals at Medford on Feb. 10 and sectionals at Amery on Feb. 17. The WIAA State Individual Wrestling Tournament is Feb. 22-24 at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Paul Lecker is the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at [email protected]