June 5, 2021 — On Tuesday, June 1, Siuslaw’s wrestling team traveled to Elmira for dual meets against Philomath and Elmira/Crow’s co-op team. The Vikings had several wins throughout the night, and although Philomath came out on top 45-15 in the first dual meet, Elmira/Crow fell to the Viks 36-24.
According to Coach Neil Wartnik, “Philomath is a very strong team with a lot of hard-working, athletic, savvy kids, and they came in very focused and ready to wrestle.”
He added, “They were well-conditioned, technically they were very solid and they took it to us. We lost a couple matches that I thought we could have done better in because they were so aggressive and sharp. Not that we haven't been working, but I think they've been working harder, so it was kind of a wake-up call for us.”
Although the Warriors won on the whole, the Vikings had some very strong wins. First was Hunter Petterson in the 138 lb. weight class, who defeated his opponent Caleb Blackburn by decision 7-6.
“Caleb actually beat Hunter in a key matchup last year at the end of the season that prevented Hunter from going to state,” Wartnik said. “So, last night was the rematch, and Hunter looked great. He wrestled a very strategic match, kept the score close the first two periods, and in the last period was able to make a couple of big attacks to win the match.”
Also coming out on top was Elijah LaCosse in the 152 lb. weight class, who pinned David Griffith in 4:52, as well as Mason Buss in the 182 lb. weight class, who pinned Jacob Williams in 1:31.
Wartnik opted for a positive outlook on the experience.
“When you lose, it gives you food for thought,” he said. “One thing I've learned over time is you can't get better unless you get beaten. So, as I come away from that match, I know we need to work harder if we're going to catch up to the Philomath Warriors.”
In the next dual meet, the Viks beat Elmira/Crow decisively.
Petterson took another win over Ian Drago by decision 12-7, as did LaCosse, who beat Reuben Fox by decision 6-2.
The Vikings also had 2 wins by forfeit, and 3 by pin. Michael Schick pinned Wade Walton in 2:00, Christian Newlan pinned Brett Highburger at 220 pounds in 2:58 and JC Gentry pinned Luke Wolgamott at 285 pounds in 3:19.
On the women's side, the Vikings had strong performances from Arrianna Brown, who finished with two wins and no losses, as well as Hayden Muller, who came away with a decisive victory. “Hayden is looking really strong,” said Wartnik. “We have a number of wrestlers who just are looking really strong at this point in that season; they've trained hard and are technically sound, and Hayden is one of those.”
Next week is the final week of scheduled league matches, with regional qualifying events taking place the following week. Wartnik hopes to have as many students qualify for state this year as last year, if not more, but never lets the big picture stray far.
“Right now, I just feel really good about the year,” he said. “We've worked so hard, and there's such a strong team bond. I know that we're having a positive experience. I'm proud of my kids, they're doing a great job. They are supportive of one another and the rest of the coaching staff, and we couldn't be more pleased with them. We have work to do, but that's always the way it is.”
The Vikings have their final home meet on Tuesday, June 8, at 5 p.m., which will be Senior Night, and their final away meet of the regular season is on Thursday at Philomath starting at 4 p.m.
“One of the exciting conversations we're having now with our wrestlers is, let's train through the summer,” said Wartnik. “There is an interest there that hasn't been there in the past, and I think that's the byproduct of building relationships as we're growing more and more tight knit. So, from that standpoint, I feel really positive about the year.”