The balance of power among Racine County wrestling programs is west of I-94 once again this season and there’s no question who the most established individual is.
That honor goes to Waterford High School senior Jared Krattiger, a University of Wisconsin recruit who is 142-4 with three state medals in his career. All that’s missing on his resume is a WIAA Division 1 state championship, but with both of his shoulders surgically repaired, Krattiger could run down that elusive goal this season.
“What’s so nice about him right now is he’s healthy,” Waterford coach Tom Fitzpatrick said. “He can just go, go, go, go, go now. He’s on a little different level now than the other kids.”
Here are previews on the six county wrestling programs:
COACH: Dave Edwards, eighth season.
LAST SEASON: 5-15 overall, 1-6 in SEC dual meets; seventh in SEC Tournament, seventh at Division 1 Kenosha Bradford Regional, ninth at Division 1 Case Sectional.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Josiah Aguilar (126), Brandon Cruz (160), Zach Mano (145). Juniors — Tim Rothen (145), Kyle Guillen (152). Sophomores — Cole Zeitz (106), Josh Leonard (120), Jay Shelmidine (285), Jullian Cintron (132).
OUTLOOK: While Guillen is the only returnee with a winning record (20-18), Edwards and his staff have a large number of wrestlers to mold. Others with double-digit victories last season are Aguilar (14-21), Rothen (19-20) and Cruz (15-17).
“We will be young, with a lot of people getting varsity experience,” Edwards said. “Our numbers are good, so it will depend on who wants to put in the work to get the varsity spots. We have some returning conference place winners that should be able to step up and see some success, being led by junior Kyle Guillen at 152.”
COACH: Jerry Kupper, 17th season.
LAST SEASON: 16-16 overall, 3-4 in SEC dual meets; fifth in SEC Tournament, fourth at Division 1 Kenosha Bradford Regional.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Carlos Vega (106-113), Antonio Puentes (113-120), Ryan Kickland (170-182). Juniors — Edward Opichka (106), Nick Cihler (145-152), Ethan Gegare (152-160). Sophomore — Elias Martinez (160-170).
OUTLOOK: Horlick was hit hard by graduation losses, notably Subhan Umar, who won the most matches in the program’s history (147). Plus, Kupper said Horlick’s numbers are down from about 30 last year to 18.
The most accomplished returnees are Puentes, who was 38-10 at 113 pounds, and Vega (36-16 at 106). Both were sectional qualifiers last season. Two other returnees with winning records are Cihler (21-15) and Opichka (11-5).
“Our numbers are down a little bit, but we’ve got some good kids,” Kupper said. “We’re going to base our year off of how many matches we wrestle and how we win and lose those as opposed to the team concept just because we’re going to be forfeiting a lot of weight classes. We have good practices going. We just don’t have a lot of numbers.”
COACH: Jon Burdick, sixth season.
LAST SEASON: 1-6 overall and in the Southeast Conference; eighth in SEC Tournament, eighth in Division 1 Kenosha Bradford Regional, 13th in Division 1 Case Sectional.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Ethan Weaver (132), Austin Siegal (160), Michael Nielson (170), Tre Williams (285). Sophomores — Joseph Mendoza (113), Deshaun Bolton (126), Dominic Ford (152).
OUTLOOK: The returning letterwinners are led by Mendoza, who went 20-14 at 113 pounds, and Williams (11-5 at 285). Bolton (15-20 at 126) and Siegal (13-20 at 160) also reached double digits in victories.
Burdick is expecting help from sophomores Jarrel Campbell (182), Dartrell Joshua (138) and Angel Rodriguez (106). Also, Isaiah Culp, a transfer from Greenfield High School, “is expected to make an immediate impact at 120 pounds,” Burdick said.
“Our goal is to finish .500 as a team within the conference,” Burdick said. “The four seniors on the team will bring leadership and we look to build on their previous wrestling experience to help balance out the young team.”
COACH: Jade Gribble, 13th season.
LAST SEASON: 7-5 overall and 4-3 in the Southern Lakes Conference; fourth in SLC Tournament, second in Division 1 Bradford Regional, second in Division 1 Burlington Sectional,
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Nate Crayton (182), Max Travis (220). Juniors — Wyatt Hayes (285), Nate Bousman (195), Zac Weiler (132), Kyle DeRosier (113). Sophomores — John Kubiak (195), Elijah Kiesler (145-152), Max Ehlen (138), Jake Skrundz (145), Qwade Gehring (160), Ben Kumphrey (152), Grant Zelechowski (113), Ben Stevenson (126), Cody Welker (120).
OUTLOOK: While the Demons only have two seniors in their program, they are laden with talent. As Gribble said, “Our team may only have two seniors, but we do not lack experience as many of these young men have a lot of experience on the mat. They will be tested early as we start the season wrestling tough competition, but I’m excited to compete and improve.”
Five state qualifiers return in Travis (30-11 at 285), Crayton (31-5 at 182), Kumphrey (34-10 at 120), Skrundz (31-11 at 126) and Cody Welker (42-9 at 113). Welker competed as a freshman at Waterford last season. Stevenson has transferred from Kenosha Indian Trail.
COACH: Andy Weis, 14th season.
LAST SEASON: 5-12 overall, 1-6 in the Southern Lakes Conference; sixth in Southern Lakes Conference, sixth in won Division 1 Muskego Regional, 10th in Division 1 New Berlin West Sectional.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Senior — Bubba Rewolinski (160-170). Juniors — Barron Masi (220), Keith Storm-Voltz (195), Jake Andersen (152-160), Zach Meyers (120), Jacob Johnson (285).
OUTLOOK: The Broncos have a strong base in sectional qualifiers Rewolinski (31-11), Masi (16-15) and Storm-Voltz (17-19). Rewolinski, who had a team-high 14 pins, is especially established after falling just short of qualifying for state last season.
“Although we only three seniors, we have some experience coming back,” Weis said. “The team will be lead by Bubba Rewolinski who placed third at last year’s sectional tournament and just missed a trip to the state meet. Keith Storm-Voltz and Barron Masi will help with leadership as both are sectional qualifiers.
“Helping out will be a strong freshmen class that is filled with hard workers and some experience. Cade Willis figures to be an important part of the varsity team and help anchor the lighter weights.”
COACH: Tom Fitzpatrick, third season.
LAST SEASON: 16-3 overall and 6-1 the Southern Lakes Conference; second in SLC Tournament, won Division 1 Muskego Regional, won Division 1 New Berlin West Sectional.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Seniors — Jared Krattiger (182), Jack Trautman (195), Sam Winski (120), Anthony Christenson (138-145), Bailey Mingus (170). Juniors — Boyd Biggs (220), A.J. Guardiola (152), Dalton Danowski (160-170), Tony Mastrocola (195-220). Sophomores — Lucas Winski (132), Nick Goldammer (126), Zach Kaminski (132-138).
OUTLOOK: Even when one looks beyond Krattiger, the Wolverines are loaded. Sam Winski (43-9) and Trautman (27-3) are coming off strong seasons, with Trautman placing third at the state meet at 195 pounds. And Winski was one victory from qualifying.
Among Waterford’s other established wrestlers are Biggs (29-15), Guardiola (22-3) and Christenson (27-13). Further depth will come from sophomore Jacob Cherba (138), who transferred from Waukesha West, and freshmen Lucas Johnson (106), Josh Cherba (113) and Will French (113). Plus, seniors Sean Pritchard (145) and Ben Michalowski (220) are returning to wrestling for the first time since their freshmen seasons.
“We’re very happy with what we’ve got and we’re going to make some noise,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think we’ve got some horses to do some pretty good things this year.”