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Paynesville Press - November 24, 2004

Wrestlers to open another season at Foley

By Michael Jacobson

The Bulldogs wrestling team will open their season once again at the Foley Tournament. This year's tourney will be held on Saturday, Nov. 27, with the wrestling starting at 10 a.m.

While the Bulldogs will return mostly familiar faces to the mat this winter, their coaching staff is new. Tim Woehler takes over as head coach, replacing Virg Vagle, who retired after 38 years. Vagle's longtime assistant Steve Fuchs also retired from coaching, with Tracy Piepenburg and David Kerzman splitting junior varsity and junior high duties.

The Dogs lost three seniors to graduation last year: Derek Burris, an individual state entrant; Matt Kerzman, who took fifth place at 152 in Class A last year at state; and Pat Utsch, an individual state entrant.

Leading the returnees are juniors Sean Glenz (41-2 in 2003-04) and Joel Kerzman (33-8). Glenz won the Section 6A title at 145 last year and suffered his only two losses at state. Kerzman placed third in Section 6A last year at 135. Both were conference champions last year, and both are rated third in state individually by the Guillotine - Kerzman at 140 and Glenz at 145 - this year.

Glenz and seniors Jack Mueller and Todd Thielen will be team captains this winter.

Mueller (22-18), Thielen (20-19), junior Keith Klein (20-21), junior Joe Sheridan (24-13), and senior Josh Tebben (21-20) all had 20-win seasons last year for the Dogs. Sheridan and Thielen were individual state entrants last year. Klein, meanwhile, wrestled above his natural weight last year.

Woehler expects the Dogs to be strong through the middle weights (140-215) and at the top of its lineup (103-119). "We're solid in the middle. No one is going to run over us in the middle," said Woehler.

Other returning regular wrestlers for the Bulldogs this year are: ninth grader Jordan Christian at 103; junior Andrew Christian at 130; junior Cody Block at 135; sophomore Aaron Burris at 140; ninth grader Jordan Spaeth at 171; and senior Cody Flanders at 275.

Others who could see varsity action this year include ninth grader Luke Frank, senior Jimmy Jansen, eighth grader Jon Kerzman, ninth grader Kevin Klein, ninth grader Keegan Meagher, senior Greg Person, senior Jeff Schaefer, and ninth grader Cory Spanier.

The team is going to have to work hard in practice and wrestle well to match last year's 17-15 record, said Woehler, because the Dogs will again face a tough schedule in 2004-05. "With our schedule," he said, "we're going to have to work hard to get where we were last year. There aren't any gimmes."

Woehler, who has taught science at PAMS for eight years, has coached throughout the Paynesville wrestling program, mostly at the junior high level. He has been the varsity softball coach for five years and has also been an assistant football coach for six years. Before coming to Paynesville, Woehler taught in Blooming Prairie for five years, where he also coached wrestling and football. He wrestled in college at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

Piepenburg, also a science teacher at PAMS, starts his second year with the Paynesville wrestling program. He will work mostly with the junior high wrestlers. (Paynesville this year will wrestle in a ninth-grade league again, in part because Woehler wants to give a strong ninth grade class more competition.)

David Kerzman, a two-time individual state champion, is helping primarily with the junior varsity and varsity.

Sauk Centre is the conference favorite again this year, Woehler said. Albany and LPGE should also field strong teams in the conference.

In Section 6A, Pierz stands as the defending state champion, a major hurdle to a return trip to state as a team. The Pioneers are rated #1 in Class A and have ten wrestlers rated individually by the Guillotine.

The Bulldogs could face Pierz on Saturday at the Foley Tournament. But both Becker and Pierz are playing on Friday in the Prep Bowl for football, so they may not wrestle on Saturday. The Foley Tournament - which uses a dual-meet formula for the varsity and an individual tournament for junior varsity - starts at 10 a.m.

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