Bulldog wrestling team is ‘putting a new engine in the car’

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Members of the 2019-2020 MFL MarMac wrestling team include (front, left to right) cheerleaders Taylor Berns, Maya Butikofer, Kira Krueger, Avery Ihde, Jordyn Jones, Alexis Ross and Destiny Berns; (middle) manager Savannah Schaller, Isabella Bogdonovich, Caleb Nordheim, Austin Schlee, Kashton Mathis, Andrew Heins, Tyler Zuercher, Logan Brown, Collin Henkels, Kadence Pape, manager Rose Koehn; (back) head coach Chet Bachman, Koal Klenk, Karter Decker, Austin Nickolai, Zach Howe, Jacob Trudo, Gabe McGeough, Michael Knickerbocker, assistant coach Tracy Decker and manager Emma Keehner. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

After graduating seven seniors—four of whom were state qualifiers at some point in their high school careers—MFL MarMac head wrestling coach Chet Bachman admits this year is a bit of a re-vamp for the team.

“Our theme for this year is actually ‘putting a new engine in the car.’ That’s kind of what we’re doing,” he explained.

The 2019-2020 Bulldogs feature a mix of wrestlers, he said.

“We have some pretty darn good kids, and then we’ve got some young kids and then we’ve got some beginners,” Bachman stated. “We’ve got each phase, and you just try to mix it together and do the best you can.”

The team has 17 members this season, led by lone senior Zach Howe (220). Bachman hopes Howe’s successful football season, where he was both an all-district and all-state selection, will translate to wrestling.

“Usually it’s a good transition. He could take the next step with the next area of sports he’s involved in,” Bachman said, “and I’d like to think Howe is one of those kids we’d like to see take the next step.”

Other key returners include heavyweight Jacob Trudo, a junior, as well as sophomores Gabe McGeough (152), Andrew Heins (126) and Kashton Mathis (120).

“[Junior] Austin Nickolai is also a kid to watch,” said Bachman.

The team will rely on some freshmen too, including Austin Schlee, Michael Knickerbocker and Tyler Zuercher in the mid to upper weights, along with Karter Decker and Kadence Pape at the lower weights.

Even with smaller numbers, Bachman said MFL MarMac should be able to fill most weight classes.

“The hardest thing will be these young kids having to drop a couple pounds for the first time, which they’ve never done before,” he said.

Health will also be a factor.

“When you go through a winter season, you have sickness and all kinds of things, so that 17 could turn into 14 real quick,” Bachman noted. “Health and getting down to weight is going to be the key for us.”

For the younger wrestlers, Bachman said just gaining experience as the season goes on will be important.

“The sport isn’t just about the moves—it’s the feel of where you’re at and the feel of how to defend. It’s a mat feel that takes mat time,” he explained.

Luckily, the kids are ready to listen to advice and work hard.

“Whatever I tell these kids to do, they do it,” he said.

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