2019-2020 FHS Wrestling Season Recap
By Coach Halter
Heading into my second season as head coach, the wrestling club had quite the to-do list. We were underway with running concessions at Lambeau Field for 12+ events, expanding our board membership, looking to hire two new middle school coaches, planning for our hosted events, purchasing new uniforms program-wide along with three used wrestling mats for the high school, and preparing for the K-12 seasons ahead of us.
The high school season began with a bit of a rough takeoff. We lost a number of talented wrestlers whom we expected to fill huge roles on our team, leaving us undermanned for the season ahead with only seven returning wrestlers. Although this left us vulnerable, it also opened up opportunities for other members of the team to step up and shoulder more weight. And the team sure delivered! Unexpected growth and leadership sprung forth.
After heavy recruiting, our numbers jumped to 27 with a number of those new to the sport. We opened up the season with a couple of tough varsity losses to Oshkosh North and Hortonville (duals we had won the year before), but our JV team found success and won, gaining a large amount of confidence and excitement.
We slowly began to gel as a team, leading us to an exciting win over Cumberland (a nice taste of revenge from the previous season) along with a win over Appleton West. Four wrestlers earned places at our own hosted Fondy Cardinal Invite and Issac Ortegon wrestled well to finish in the finals of the Oshkosh-On The Water Invite. We had a tough, close loss against Oshkosh West, but wrestled well at both the Cutler Classic and Highlander Invite. We hosted the Double Duals, setting up easily with our five mats now on site. Our biggest win of the season came at Appleton North for their Senior Night where Joe Schmitz (285) defeated their ranked wrestler and Jon Vanna (160) ended the night with a win to secure the victory.
The FVA Conference Tournament hosted by Kaukauna was a mixed bag of ups and downs. There were high hopes heading into this tournament as we were beginning to peak as a team. Unfortunately, we didn’t walk away with any champions, but we did have a number of strong performances. Issac Ortegon (152), Josiah Streblow (160), and Joe Schmitz (285) took second place, while Tristan Lakey (138) and Jon Vanna finished with third place. As a team we were in fourth place for most of the day, and with a stronger finish in the final round we could have remained. It gave us the most hope for next year’s opportunity to finish even better.
Last year we had six Sectional qualifiers and this year we had the same. Logan Schmitz (113), Tristan Lakey (138), Issac Ortegon (145), Josiah Streblow (160), Nick Waldo (182), and Joe Schmitz (285) all advanced to the next round of the State Series. The stand out performances here happened with Josiah Streblow pinning his way through the finals and Logan Schmitz defeating his Oshkosh North rival. Last year we had two State qualifiers and this year we had the same. Josiah Streblow punched through and Issac Ortegon competed strongly to finish on the podium with 6th place.
We have two seniors leaving our team this year: Jon Vanna and Jaanika Rosenthal. This year, Jon stepped up as one of the best leaders our team could have been blessed with. He consistently encouraged the large number of new wrestlers we had as he focused on his own personal goals. Jaanika has been a vital piece of our success for the last few years. She has served as a mother of sorts to these young men, while running trackwrestling & matboss, organizing uniforms, and helping me to coordinate every hosted event. Her help has been instrumental in the success of everything we have been able to accomplish. Both of these individuals will be sorely missed, and we look forward to their forward involvement in the future of our program.
Luckily, our team was able to avoid the shutdown caused by the Coronavirus. However, this did affect our youth seasons, our ability to host the Youth Regional, and the enjoyment of a K-12 Awards Night. We do, however, have a lot to be excited about for the season to come! We have a strong group of talent still with us and another year to build and attack!
The quote we picked to sum up the 2019-2020 season comes from Tom Brands: “The only thing you deserve is what you earn.” Our group had to fight for everything this year. It’s difficult to win a dual meet when the team is forfeiting 2-3 weight classes every time. However, where there is struggle, there is also opportunity. Our guys are growing stronger and more confident in scrapping for every victory we can get, very often bumping around their weight classes to do what’s best for the team. I am proud to see this grit developing along with their ability to be more and more selfless as they grow into better and better young men of character. I look forward to seeing what we can earn in the year and years to come.