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Paynesville Press - November 30, 2005

Wrestlers rated eighth in preseason rankings

By Michael Jacobson

The Bulldogs wrestling team, rated eighth in Class A this preseason, faces a new challenge in trying to make another trip to state.

For the last two years, the Dogs finished second in Section 6A behind two-time state champion Pierz, which is rated #1 again.

This year, the Dogs move to Section 5A, where they still will be the underdog, now to neighboring ACGC, which took third in Class A last year and is rated third this year. The Dogs hope to advance to state for the 18th time since 1977 and for the first time since 2001.

The Dogs are excited for the season, said coach Tim Woehler. They actually were ready to keep wrestling last winter after state, he said, when senior Sean Glenz won the title in Class A at 145 and senior Joel Kerzman placed second at 135.

The Dogs have five state-rated wrestlers returning this year: Glenz, first at 152; Kerzman, second at 145; senior Keith Klein, fourth at 140; sophomore Jordan Christian, fourth at 103; and senior Joe Sheridan, sixth at 112. All five made individual trips to state last year.

(The Falcons, coached by PAHS grad and Paynesville resident Tim Roberg, also have five state-rated wrestlers in the preseason rankings.)

The Dogs (17-15 last year) lost seven seniors to graduation, including regulars Jack Mueller, Todd Thielen, and Josh Tebben (plus another spot split by Cody Flanders and Jimmy Jansen).

This year, though, they have 26 wrestlers in grades 9-12 and another 15 in the junior high (7-8).

Returning regulars include: Glenz (39-2 last year), Jordan Christian (32-5), Sheridan (30-7), Keith Klein (26-16), Joel Kerzman (21-4), senior A.J. Christian (17-22), sophomore Kevin Klein (15-20), sophomore Jordan Spaeth (14-19), ninth grader Jon Kerzman (12-23), junior Aaron Burris (4-17), and senior Cody Block (2-19).

The Dogs have eight seniors in all on the team, with seniors Aaron Bachman and Dustin Utsch rejoining the team this year. Juniors on the team also include returnee Brad Torborg and newcomers Tom Lewis and Tim Rudnick. A strong sophomore class includes 11 wrestlers.

Though the team has good numbers, according to Woehler, they are "always willing to take more." "We could use a few more big boys," he added.

While ACGC is the favorite in Section 5A, Woehler expects the Dogs to match up better against the Falcons this year. Last year, ACGC beat the Dogs 42-9.

Eden Valley-Watkins and Norwood Young America also could challenge in Section 5A. The Dogs have not wrestled either team recently but will this year during the regular season.

The West Central Conference North features two new teams: NL-S and Minnewaska. The Lakers won the WCC South last year and won the WCC playoff, beating North champion Sauk Centre. Woehler lists the Lakers as the preseason favorite in the conference and notes that the Dogs are the only Class A school in the WCC North. (ACGC and BOLD appear to be favorites in the WCC South this year.)

Along with chasing a state berth and competing for a conference title, a few Dogs are chasing career milestones this winter. Glenz, with a career record of 151-58 as a five-year varsity starter, needs 27 wins to break the career victory record held by David Kerzman (178). Glenz could also join Kerzman as Paynesville's only two-time state champions in wrestling.

Joel Kerzman, with a career record of 75-32, and Sheridan (65-38) could also reach the 100-career-victory mark this year.

Woehler will be assisted again this winter by David Kerzman and Tracy Piepenburg, who will split the varsity assistant and junior high coaching duties.

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