BELOIT—The Beloit Turner wrestling team is headed into postseason play with an unfamiliar feeling: The Trojans are healthy.
As opposed to past years, when the squad entered WIAA Division 2 regional play looking more like a MASH unit than a lean, mean fighting machine.
The Trojans will compete in Evansville Saturday for the right to move on to sectional play, and the field will certainly have a familiar feel to it.
Joining Turner in Evansville will be fellow Rock Valley Conference schools Brodhead-Juda, Clinton, Edgerton, Turner, Whitewater and the host (and conference champion) school.
Turner head coach Matt Ries, who recently picked up his 200th career victory, said the familiarity can work both ways.
“I think it’s good because we’ve scouted the heck out of these guys because we’ve wrestled them so much,” Ries said. “Trey Bivens, he’s wrestled the kid from Whitewater four times already. He’s beaten him all four times, but at most by two points.
“On the mental side, you might have an edge over someone you’ve beaten a few times. But that could work the other way, too. If you’ve lost by a point or two every time, that could be tough for some kids to overcome.”
Devon Harbison (120), Bivens (152), Drew Ries (195) and Trey Griinke (220) all enter the tournament with fewer than six losses, making them favorites to advance to the finals and thus earn a spot at the sectional meet.
Three other wrestlers, including conference champion Andres Beltran (132), enter the meet as number two seeds, giving the Trojans plenty of opportunities to continue their season.
Ries said being healthy for the most part will aid their cause.
“Everybody this time of year has bumps and bruises,” Ries said. “Cal (Ries) has been wrestling with a broken hand that he hurt during football season, but he’s too stubborn to miss any time, and by now he’s used to it. Every team is dealing with those types of things.”
While Ries is hoping for as many individuals as possible to advance, he’s also hoping for the Trojans to overcome the Blue Devils for the team title.
“We’re sure hoping we can get there,” Ries said. “I’ve never gone into a meet thinking we were going to lose it, and I don’t think these kids have, either. We lost the dual meet to them by 10 points, which is basically one match.
“At conference, we were up seven after lunch, and even though we talk about being warriors instead of being winners, we thought ‘Hey, why not be winners too?’ But we came up short there, and we know with Evansville’s depth, we are a little behind the eight ball, but we’re going to give it our best shot. Really what it comes down to is one or two guys over-producing.”
• BIG EIGHT: The Beloit Memorial wrestling team will host the Division 1 regional at Barkin Arena Saturday.
The Knights are led into play by Tyler Sireci, who took home first place in the Big Eight Tournament and is seeking his second consecutive berth in the WIAA Division 1 State Tournament in both Evansville and Beloit, wrestling will get underway at around 10 a.m.