Bulldog wrestlers hope to build on the success of last season

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Members of the 2016-2017 MFL MarMac high school wrestling team include (front, left to right) manager MacKenzie Gramlich, cheerleaders Brenna Boland, Brooklyn Landt, Lizzie Miene, Jerica Meana, Sierra Wiebensohn, Katelyn Berns, Chloe Diehl, manager Eden Heying; (middle) manager Chelbe Feuerhelm, Zach Howe, Kaleb Krueger, Keaton Dettman, Austin Ruff, Nathan Johanningmeier, Hunter Miller, Michael Egan, manager Emily Hanson; (back) head coach Chet Bachman, assistant coach Travis Johnson, Avrey Smith, Kutter Anderson, JT Stocker, Brady Olson, Chaise Ziegler, Matt Knipfel, Ethan Stubbs, Colton Dettman, Maccoy Pritchard, Riley Doeppke, Jamarr Tanniehill, Nick Larson, Zach Trudo, Michael Berger, Korby Keehner, assistant coach Collin Stubbs and assistant coach Tracy Decker. Not pictured is Garret Keehner. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Last season, the MFL MarMac high school wrestling team was conference dual champions and advanced all the way to regionals. Five individuals qualified for sectionals, with two making it to the state tournament. 

“We had a strong season last year,” said head coach Chet Bachman, “and we want to build on that.” 

Bachman, who’s joined this season by assistant coaches Tracy Decker, Collin Stubbs, Travis Johnson, Mike Meyer, Chase Strub, Gatlin Keehner and Kyle Kirkestue, said his team will benefit from some strong returners. 

“We have a strong nucleus of returners from last year who have had a lot of success at a young age,” he noted. “Some older guys are stepping up and leading.”

So far, said Bachman, he’s been impressed with the leadership of senior Riley Doeppke and junior Brady Olson.

“We have a good sophomore class that’s coming up behind them,” he added.

Bachman said he’s expecting to see the Bulldogs grow as a tournament team this year. At dual meets, however, they’ll have to fill some gaps. They have the numbers to do it, though, he stated.

“We have some young kids who are stepping into some weights, so we’ll have to learn as we go,” he explained. “But we have bodies to work with. Because of the bodies, we have flexibility. We can put guys in here or there, giving guys a break or a rest.”

MFL MarMac will wrestle in three more JV tournaments this year than it did last season, Bachman shared. In some dual meets, the Bulldogs face off against smaller teams, so this will hopefully give younger wrestlers more mat time, he said.

“The goal is to take the JV and get them more mat time and ready to go when they step into the varsity line-up,” Bachman remarked. “Next year, with 25 matches under their belts, that’s going to help.”

Aside from the addition JV tournaments, Bachman said the team’s schedule isn’t vastly different than last season. 

On Jan. 28, MFL MarMac will host the conference tournament. 

“There are always good matches,” he said. “It’s a great event to come and watch.”

Bachman said people will have several opportunities to watch the Bulldogs in post-season action this year without traveling far, as districts will be held at Starmont and sectionals at Postville.

While he enjoys watching the wrestlers on the mat, Bachman said he enjoys witnessing their camaraderie off it.

“What’s most exciting is that they’re just a bunch of kids having fun together. They’re always doing things together, even outside wrestling,” he shared. “They go fishing together and come in at lunch and play soccer together.”

Bachman credited that close-knit behavior to the fact that the kids learn and grow up in the sport together from a young age.

“They start at such a young age—ever since they were in kindergarten and first grade. I remember seeing these kids in pee wee wrestling,” he said. “There’s good alignment with the youth and high school programs and coaches.”

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