Huge group of lettermen lead Spring Valley/Elmwood wrestling team
SPRING VALLEY -
It was right about the time of the final dual meet of regular season when the signs made themselves know that the young Spring Valley/Elmwood prep wrestling team had hit that proverbial wall.
A rally by Boyceville handed SVE its only Dunn-St. Croix Conference dual meet loss 33-30 and forced a tie that season for the league title between the Bulldogs and Redbirds. And while SVE was able to have its highest finish-ever in the BRC/D-SC Wrestling Jamboree (second) and win another regional title, a second straight state team tournament bid was blocked in the sectional finals by Clear Lake. And SVE wound up with just one state individual qualifier out of nine sectional participants.
Veteran SVE head coach Carter Turner believes this season will be different as the Redbirds have gained a year of experience and a year of growing and getting stronger.
“A lot of wrestlers, and high school athletes in general, make that jump in athletic ability and maturity in between their sophomore and junior seasons,” Turner said. “If that happens for us, then we’ll be a very tough team this season.”
Besides a good group of upperclassmen, SVE hopes that jump of maturity and strength takes place between the freshman and sophomore seasons as well. The Redbird squad is still a young one per say as it has 10 sophomores and six freshmen. The Redbirds finished 10-7 overall, (3-1 in the D-SC). Nevertheless, their collective talents have pushed them to a preseason No. 6 state ranking in Division III.
“It takes a special kind of freshman to make it to state. We had opportunities but just couldn’t get it done,” Turner said. “Now that they know what it takes to get down there they’ve put in the time and effort to make this season a better one.”
SVE only lost Jaron Turner and Mitch Thompson to graduation. At least 14 members of the squad lettered last season starting with state place winner senior Zach Newton. Also back are regional champions senior Tyler Berg and sophomore Ethan Hofacker. Sophomore Jed Schlegel is a retuning Jamboree champion. Returning sectional qualifiers include senior Derek Huebel, sophomore Logan Newton, sophomore Jed Schlegel, senior Trent Miller and junior Mike Roesler.
Huebel, both Newtons, Berg, Schlegel, were all 30-plus match winners last season while Hofacker and Miller came close to 30-win mark. Huebel, Schlegel and Berg were also first-team All D-SC while both Newtons, and Roesler were second team All D-SC.
Other returning starters include sophomores Andrew Webb, Ryan Berg and Ryan Asher, junior Hank Larson and seniors Kevin Fesenmaier and D.J. Wheeler. SVE will also have the services this season of senior upper weight wrestler Chris Craft, who suffered an injury in the first meet of the season and did not wrestle the rest of the way. His return and that of the lettermen and other returnees has Turner excited for the potential of the upper weights to make the Redbirds even stronger.
“We have some good wrestlers in these weight classes and we have depth as well,” Turner said. “The competition in the wrestling room has excellent so far and good room is what makes for a good team.”
One newcomer who will make an impact in the lower weights is freshman Cruz Hurlburt, a transfer who comes in from Baldwin.
The D-SC title should once again come down to Boyceville and Spring Valley/Elmwood. Although the meets is in Boyceville this season, Turner thinks the team should be able to handle what should be an exciting venue for dual meet wrestling.
“That’s part of the growing process too, being able to handle the meets you get into,” Turner said. “We start right away with tough meet in Ellsworth (the Ellsworth Invitational), then the Dells Duals, along with dual against Clear Lake at home and Northern Badger and think by the time we reach Boyceville and the bigger meets beyond that one, we’ll be more than ready.”