Franklin, Oak Creek wrestling squads headed on two different paths this season
Sabers experienced, Knights young this winter
It'll be interesting for the Franklin and Oak Creek wrestling teams this season, as both opened their campaigns with Southeast Conference dual meet wins and competitive battles in hotly contested dual meet tournaments Saturday.
The two will meet in a Southeast dual at Franklin at 7 p.m. Dec. 6.
Sabers have balance
Franklin, which made its fifth straight trip to the WIAA State Team Tournament last season, will return four individual state qualifiers from a year ago, including junior Xianou Xiong at 113 pounds (106 last year), and seniors Roman Stiff at 145 (132), Daniel Peyer at 170 (152) and Kyle Smith at 195 (170).
The Sabers also will have a number of other returnees from last year, including senior Kodie Layman, sophomore Casey Clapper, sophomore Brian Lacina, senior Jon Kramschuster, senior Myles Devine and sophomore Gavin Devine.
Second-year coach Chad Phillippi will work in a number of new performers off the 35-plus man roster, which includes 14 freshmen. The team went 2-3 to finish fourth in the powerhouse Kaukauna Duals on Saturday.
They defeated Valders (54-22) and Hamilton (54-21) but fell to state powers Stevens Point (43-27), eventual meet champion Kaukauna (53-18) and Ashwaubenon (39-34).
"Overall, we wrestled pretty good, but there is room for improvement," Phillippi said. "We need to start putting moves together, and we need to do a better job of staying in position. As the season progresses, we must pick up the intensity in the room and make a conscious effort to improve a little bit each and every day.
"If we can keep progressing, I think the guys can reach their individual and team goals at the end of the season."
Roman Stiff (three pins), Myles Devine (four pins at 182) and Kyle Smith (two pins) all went 5-0 on the day.
The Sabers opened the dual meet season with a victory over Kenosha Bradford on Nov. 29 and will be at the Bay Port Invitational on Saturday.
Knights have room to grow
Meanwhile, the Knights will enter the season with a green team as they graduated all four state qualifiers (Seth LaBodda at 120, Josh Regazzi at 182, Bryce Agg at 195 and Mike Heard at 220). Regazzi finished fifth in his class at state last season.
"We are very young this year," coach Matt Sommerville said. "We are going to start eight or nine freshmen and sophomores on varsity all year. We do have some talented young wrestlers, but the lack of experience in big matches is going to hurt them."
Sommerville will build around Elijah Paez at 170 and Isiah Robinson at 120, both of whom went 4-1 for the Knights as they finished sixth in the Kettle Moraine Laser Duals on Saturday after picking up a 55-18 Southeast Conference win over Racine Park on Nov. 29.
Sommerville also believes that Ben Hakes at 160 is going to do well in the long run.
In the Laser Duals, Oak Creek defeated Kettle Moraine (48-14) and St. John's Military (64-17), but also fell to West Allis Hale (58-4), Mukwonago (52-15) and Waterford (42-30).
"This past weekend was a bit of a wake-up call for our kids," Sommerville said. "We did get beat up a little bit by West Allis Hale and Mukwonago, but we held our own with Waterford."
Sommerville also liked the win over Park, as Andrew McIntosh at 113 and Robinson at 120 started off their varsity careers with good wins. Earning pins were Jack Feffer at 138, Hakes at 160 and Jake Regazzi at 182.
"I'm looking forward to the season ahead," Sommerville said. "I think we have some talent here to work with."
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