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28

Nov, 2022

Veteran leaders to guide youthful Warriors in 2022-23

Every meet is going to be a battle.

That’s how the Waunakee wrestling team is approaching the 2022-23 season.

“We are going to go into matches with a fighting mentality,” said Mark Natzke, who is entering his 11th year as head coach of the Warriors. “Our goal is to wrestle hard and give it everything that we got in each and every single match. We want to fight to stay in position and give ourselves opportunities to score and win matches.”

 

The veteran savvy of Waunakee’s seven returning letterwinners, including state qualifier Jack Schweitzer (36-13 in 2021-22), from last year’s team will be especially important, because there’s a youth movement afoot. Schweitzer racked up 26 pins to lead Waunakee.

“We have a young team,” said Natzke. “Our numbers are up with 33 wrestlers on the team this year, including a big incoming freshman class of 15 freshman, along with eight sophomores. Our upperclassmen all have experience and have seen some varsity action last year. We are looking for them to take a step forward this season. We need to work every single day to get better in the practice room and continue to improve every single time that we step on the mat.”

In addition to Schweitzer, sectional qualifiers Colton Nechvatal (23-15), Gabe Guralski (25-14) and Jackson Lenzendorf (26-14) are back to lead the Warriors. Letterwinners Dane Spencer, Harrison May and Joe Kaney also wrestled varsity last season. Among the departed letterwinners from last year’s team are Kaden Hooker, Robert Lofreddo and Jayden Freie. Hooker led the Warriors in takedowns last year with 56. Guralski paced Waunakee in match points with 198.

Natzke also believes freshmen Mason Spear, Quinn Pfeifer, Payton Schutz, Julian McKinley, and McCoy Smith, as well as junior Jaden Stearns, could make an impact for the Warriors.

 

“We have numbers this year, and our numbers spread out across almost all of the weights,” said Natzke. “If everyone remains healthy, we should be able to cover most if not all of the weights this season.”

The young talent on the team will need to grow up fast, especially with Waunakee competing in the Badger Conference.

“We are young and will have a handful of freshmen that will be in the lineup,” said Natzke. “I think Stoughton and Milton are the top two teams in the conference. The Badger Conference is one of the toughest conferences in the state for wrestling. Each dual meet we will wrestle a quality team and see some great individuals.”

Girls

Two state qualifiers are back for the Waunakee girls, and they’ll be looking to make a bigger mark in 2022-23.

“We return our two girl wrestlers Madison Mecurio and Katelyn Ottosen, who both participated at the girls state wrestling tournament last season,” said Natzke. “This year the girls’ state wrestling tournament will feature a qualifying tournament and will take place the same weekend as the boys’ state tournament at the Kohl Center as well. They will be wrestling at the same time as the boys will.”

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