Though wrestling is billed as a team sport, it always comes down to the individual’s ability to score points.
Though our area teams had a down year in the team win column, all three schools produced some monster talent.
Waseca led the way with six selections, while the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton/Waterville-Elysian-Morristown cooperative had five and New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva rostered three. Here’s the list:
106 — Mason Gehloff (freshman, Waseca) — 2017-18 record: 30-12. This was Gehloff’s first year wrestling varsity for Waseca. “He came in on the small side, but his technique allowed him to defeat most of his opponents.” — Waseca head coach Jake Janike
113 — Luke Osweiler (freshman, Waseca) — 2017-18 record: 27-13. Osweiler returned to the mat after taking some time off. Like Gehloff, this was his first year wrestling varsity. “It’s great having Luke back,” said Janike. “He’s a hard worker and easy to coach.”
120 — Dayton Deutsch (senior, Waseca) — 2017-18 record: 24-15. Deutsch finished his wrestling career with the Bluejays as a four-time letter winner. “Dayton’s leadership and hard work were huge for us this year,” said Janike
126 — Tucker Rients (sophomore, WEM/JWP) — 2017-18 record: 15-24. Don’t let the record fool you. After a rough start to his sophomore year, Rients had two turnaround matches in the section tournament (defeating guys he had lost to earlier in the year) and was undefeated against county opponents.
132 — Justin Sampson (senior, Waseca) — 2017-18 record: 24-3. Sampson captained the Bluejays in his senior season and was a six-time letter winner. “Sampson is an extremely talented athlete,” said Janike. “We could always count on Justin for a win when we needed it. His technique is amazing.”
138 — Agro Gushwa (sophomore, NRHEG) — 2017-18 record: 17-11. Gushwa was second on the team in falls with 15 and led the Panthers with 12 reversals in just his sophomore year. He has only been wrestling for three years, but head coach Shawn Larson says he’s made a name for himself already. “This year he was fifth in the section, was in the discussion for all-conference honorable mention and basically has made himself recognizable in the section as someone that can be a contender.”
145 — Braydon Johnson (senior, WEM/JWP) — 2017-18 record: 35-7. Johnson had a career record of 113-71 as a Grizzly and finished strong as a section runner-up and state qualifier in his senior season.
152 — Adam Rients (senior, WEM/JWP) — 2017-18 record: 35-11. Like Johnson, Rients was a Section 2A runner-up and a state qualifier, going 2-2 at the state tournament, losing his final match 6-4 in the consolation bracket. He finished with a 110-57 record for the Grizzlies.
160 — Cole Staloch (senior, NRHEG) — 2017-18 record: 26-12. Staloch was the model of consistency for the Panthers in his senior season. He led the team with 26 victories and placed third in the Section 2A tournament which included the eventual state runner-up, Colton Krell of Westfield (Blooming Prairie/Hayfield cooperative).
170 — Tyler Jacobson (junior, NRHEG) — 2017-18 record: 24-10. Jacobson led the Panthers with 48 takedowns and 18 falls on the year and qualified for the state tournament, where he won his first match before being eliminated after back-to-back falls in his following two matches.
182 — Jaden Taylor (sophomore, WEM/JWP) — 2017-18 record: 28-12. After going 14-18 prior to his sophomore year, Taylor had a huge turnaround for the Grizzlies, not only winning 28 matches, but also taking home third place in the Section 2A tournament.
195 — Will Storch (senior, WEM/JWP) — 2017-18 record: 42-1 — Storch is the only state champion on the All-Area team. Though he won the championship at 220 pounds, he spent the majority of the season at 195 for the Grizzlies. Storch won the state championship over Jason Kasella (Royalton-Upsala) by a 7-2 decision and finished his career with a 145-45 record.
220 — Jacob Hertzog (sophomore, Waseca) — 2017-18 record: 25-11 After making the varsity roster as a freshman in 2016-17, Hertzog spent the majority of this season practicing with Janike’s older brother and assistant coach, Ben, along with Levi Kuschel to improve his technical skills. The hard work payed off, as he ended up third on the team with 25 wins.
285 — Levi Kuschel (senior, Waseca) — 2017-18 record: 24-9 A co-captain along with Sampson, Kuschel was a five-year letter winner for the Bluejays. “Levi worked really extremely hard this past summer and his efforts showed,” said Janike. “Right from the start, he made our mantra “gracefully aggressive” a priority.”