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Individual improvement is the focus for wrestling co-op


Like many of their Lakeland Conference counterparts, a downward trend in participation numbers is hitting the Cornell- Gilman-Lake Holcombe wrestlers.

Starting the 2020-21 season with just four wrestlers, the Wolfpack’s current goals are quite simple.

“Improve as much as we can,” head coach Greg Sonnentag said. “Due to the COVID restrictions this season, there is not a guaranteed chance for us to compete individually in the state tournament series. We can’t win our conference dual meet championship based on sheer numbers. Therefore, we want to simply wrestle as many matches as we can and make the most out of them to improve individually in case we do get a chance to compete at a greater scale later this season.”

Three of the team’s four current wrestlers come from Gilman, while a fourth is from Lake Holcombe, who rejoined the co-op this year after being out of it for two seasons. Sonnentag teaches in Cornell.

Gilman’s representatives are junior Julian Krizan, sophomore Braeden Person and freshman Troy Duellman. Ryne Gienke, a Lake Holcombe junior, is the fourth wrestler.

Krizan and Person return after solid 2019-20 seasons.

Krizan, who recently was named Wisconsin’s eight-player football Defensive Player of the Year by is the Lakeland Conference’s defending champion at 152 pounds. Overall, he went 18-12 last year bouncing between 152 and 160 pounds. He was fourth in the regional meet at 160.

Person finished his freshman season at 12-15 overall. He was the Lakeland Conference runner-up at 138 pounds and placed fourth in the WIAA Division 3 regional meet at that weight. He bounced between 132 and 138 pounds throughout the season.

“Julian Krizan is a returning conference champion and has been putting in quite a bit of work over the off-season,” Sonnentag said. “He is the most vocal wrestler and I expect him to push the other athletes as he has high expectations for himself. Braeden Person is a returning sophomore and an all-conference football player this season. Braeden works relentlessly and leads by example with his steady effort.”

The Wolfpack went 3-4 in conference duals a year ago with a roster of six wrestlers and placed sixth out of eight teams in the Lakeland Conference meet. Due to WIAA mandates and guidelines, multi-team meets and invitationals won’t happen and this year’s regular season schedule currently consists of conference duals only, something that is less than ideal for the small programs the league consists of.

The Luck Co-op and Clear Lake, last year’s top teams, met last Thursday in a seasonopening dual, which was won 27-20 by Clear Lake. Cornell-Gilman-Lake Holcombe is scheduled to open its season at Clear Lake tonight, Thursday, after having its opening meet at Shell Lake canceled last week.

The team will host Unity in Cornell on Dec. 30.

“We want to win as many matches as possible in our duals,” Sonnentag said. “The goal is to outwrestle our opponents regardless of the score from forfeits. There will be some dual meets we can win with the proper match-ups. We we do have that opportunity, we need to capitalize.”

The WIAA has post-season assignments posted, but there is no guarantee at this point how or if the tournament will be conducted. The start of the season was shortened by one week and, as of now, it will end two weeks earlier than normal. That means with a normal post-season, regional competition would begin Jan. 30. The current assignments show the Wolfpack wrestling that day in Edgar against a formidable field that includes the host Wildcats, Athens, Cadott, Edgar, Stratford and Thorp.

“Last year was the first year in a while we didn’t have a state qualifier,” Sonnentag said. “We hope to get that opportunity again this year and make it happen. The athletes we do have are gifted athletes and they have a great work ethic. Once in a coaching seminar a state championship coach mentioned talent = athleticism + work ethic. Right now we are in good shape.”

Information for this story was obtained by the Courier Sentinel newspaper.