#AskNWW Wrestling Q&A No. 5: Badgers, toughest high school weight classes and more

Another week in the books. And we’re back at it again with a new edition of #ASKNWW Wrestling Q&A.

Thank you very much for another batch of great questions this week.

As a reminder, you can submit questions any time via Twitter by using #AskNWW or by email at nwwrestle@gmail.com.

Alright, housekeeping is done. Away we go!

From Luke Louison (via Twitter): 

Badger NCAA qualifiers over/under 6.5?

Hey Luke, thanks for the question. As always, you set a tough line.

The way I see it, given how allocations are generally allotted, if you are nationally ranked wrestler in the Big Ten you will be wrestling at NCAAs.

Currently, Wisconsin has six ranked wrestlers. Assuming this holds, that should give them six qualifiers right there.

So then this question essentially becomes: Between Eric Barnett, Drew Scharenbrock, Jared Krattiger and Taylor Watkins, will one of them make the NCAA Tournament?

At this moment, I think yes. Personally, I think Barnett or Scharenbrock are most likely to find a path to qualifying for nationals.

Krattiger has a pretty stacked weight class and will have a heck of a time at Big Tens. Watkins has a poor record and hasn’t beat anyone of note.

From Brian Walters (via Twitter):

Over/Under the Badger wrestling room getting an upgrade: 4.5 years? 

Hi Brian, great to hear from you.

A couple over/unders today, I like it.

If the program continues on its current trajectory, I say under.

Facilities are an essential part of being competitive both on the mat and in the recruiting game. Think of the resources that Penn State and Iowa have. Ohio State just got a new wrestling facility this year and Minnesota got one not all that long ago.

If changes aren’t made in the next four years, Wisconsin is at risk of falling behind. I think the argument can be made they are already behind.

However, that doesn’t mean the money is magically there. A couple years of results at the national level paired with increased attendance and financial contributions would go a long way to making new wrestling facilities at UW a reality.

What is the toughest/deepest weight class in each high school division? 

A double-dip! Thanks for another great question, Brian.

In Division 1, my vote goes to 113 pounds. The top-four were all state place winners last year and are upperclassmen.

Jaden Verhagen (Kaukuana) was a state finalist last year. Justin Groshek of SPASH took third at 106. Alec Hunter (Oshkosh West) was fifth at 106 last year. Jaden Bird of Burlington was third last year.

Quality upperclassmen in the lighter weights are always dangerous.

Sophomore Cody Goebel from Mukwonago is no slouch, either.

D1 126 gets a runner-up vote from me. You have nationally-ranked Nicolar Rivera from Stoughton who is undefeated in high school and a state champ. Then there’s Jager Eisch from Kaukauna who absolutely balled out at Cheesehead last weekend.

That brings us to two-time state champ Hayden Halter of Waterford and we haven’t even mentioned Watertown’s Edward Wilkowski who was a state finalist a year ago. Lots of talent at 126 as well.

In D2, I think I’ll go with 152 pounds.

Wrightstown’s Ben Durocher was a state finalist a year ago. Cole Bavery (Edgerton) was fourth at State at 132.

Andrew Forsythe (North Fondy/Springs) was fifth at 145 a year ago and he dropped down to 152 from 170 this year.

Braeden Maertz (Kewaskum) and Carter Huppert (Ellsworth) were both state qualifiers a year ago.

That’s your top-5 and they’re all seniors.

Colton Nicolay of Lodi is hanging out at No. 6 in the rankings. He’s been to State more than once.

152 is always tough, but the upper echelon of this year’s weight class is full of strong resumes and guys who are going to be competitive.

I’ll go with 138 pounds in D3.

You have Max Schwabe of Stratford back. He was state champ at this weight last year.

Aidan Nutter of Fennimore placed third at State last year. His only loss of that tournament was a one-point decision against Schwabe.

Karson Casper of Coleman was a state qualifier a year ago as was Max Sokolski of Bonduel and Mishicot’s Brant Cracraft.

Upstart freshman Gunnar Hamre of Poynette will be a factor as well.

From David Hensely (via Twitter):

Why did the Cheesehead not use their finals to feature Keegan O’Toole as the final match? He was wrestling a two-time Cheesehead champ and is one of the best wrestlers in the country. Not to mention he is from our state. Seemed like a no -brainer to me. 

Hi David, I believe this is the first question I’ve received from you. Thanks for joining the party.

I’m not going to lie, your reaction is pretty close to what my initial thoughts were when I heard we were starting at 145 pounds last Saturday afternoon. That said, I want to pull the curtain back on Cheesehead for a moment.

I have had the pleasure of speaking with tournament director Scott Kluever many times over my years of covering wrestling. His absolute top priority when it comes to Cheesehead is making this event the type of thing teams, coaches, officials and spectators want to be a part of. Hospitality and quality are the driving forces.

If (and I stress “if”) he had anything to do with this decision, he did what he thought was best for the tournament. There’s not a doubt in my mind.

And you know what? The finale at 138 was probably the best match of the last session. Both of those competitors were also ranked in the top-10 nationally.

Pair that with the awesome third-place match that happened simultaneously and I think Cheesehead ended on a bang.

Don’t forget, there is also a chance they held a legitimate random drawing for the starting weight and 145 was selected. But that’s not as fun to talk about, is it?

From Steve Clark (via Twitter):

Do you see the WIAA sanctioning girls wrestling in the near future? What would be the timeframe for something like that? 

Hey Steve, thanks for the question.

Personally, I do see the WIAA sanctioning girls wrestling eventually. But it’s hard to say how soon.

Girls wrestling is picking up steam in our state. Our junior girls freestyle team took 10th at nationals last year. Our 16U girls team finished 11th.

Both women’s college programs in Wisconsin feature several in-state wrestlers.

A handful of states sanction girls wrestling. Last I checked, at least 15 states hold separate girls state tournaments (Wisconsin among them, though it is not sanctioned by the WIAA) and several other states are exploring pilot programs.

In my book, girls wrestling in Wisconsin has two things going for it:

  1. Participation seems to be increasing at a fairly steady pace.
  2. From a budget perspective, it’s relatively low-cost. Odds are, the facilities these teams would utilize already exist. I mean, what are the schools actually on the hook for? Mats? Have ’em. Chairs? Have ’em? Scoreboard? Check.

That said, I think there are two main obstacles. One is that the WIAA has never struck me as a forward-thinking, proactive organization. It’s going to take some legwork to get this approved, no matter how popular it is.

The other concern is officials. It’s been pretty well publicized that the WIAA is hurting for certified officials. I don’t think wrestling is immune to that. This will have to be addressed in order to move forward.

Are either of these challenges insurmountable? Heck no. But I think they are relevant.

My guess (and my hope) is that we will see WIAA-sanctioned girls wrestling in Wisconsin in the next five years.

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