Coming off a second-place finish in the Classic 8 Conference with two state qualifiers back, the Muskego wrestling team is setting its goals high.
The Warriors bring back 14 letter winners and lost just two seniors from last year's team that finished second behind state semifinalist Mukwonago in the Classic 8 in both the dual-meet season and the conference tournament.
"This season looks to be one of the best yet based on what we have seen in practices so far," Muskego coach Sean Fortmann said. "Last season we saw a young team that was on the brink of breaking through and accomplishing some great things. This year we feel as a program that we can get back to achieving the high-performance standards that Muskego wrestling is known for."
One of the two seniors Muskego lost is Grant Balconi, who won regional and sectional championships before placing fourth place at the WIAA state individual tournament at 182 pounds.
Senior Jorin McGuire and junior Evan Sinda do return after winning Classic 8 titles and qualifying for state.
Sinda went 35-7 and took second at sectionals to make it to Madison, where he dropped a tough 2-1 decision to Nathan Lichtfuss of Hortonville in the first round. At 285 pounds, McGuire won a regional championship and placed second at sectionals before being pinned in 1 minute, 47 seconds to Donte Johnson of Fond du Lac to finish at 38-8.
Senior Adam McNally narrowly missed state at 145 pounds last season, finishing third at sectionals after taking third at the Classic 8 Conference tournament. Sophomore Parker Bevilacqua won over 30 matches as a freshman at 106 pounds and placed fourth at sectionals.
Juniors Addison Price and Gavin McNally also are back after collecting over 20 wins last season. Price took second in the Classic 8 at 170 pounds, while McNally was third at 160 pounds.
Muskego also returns sectional qualifiers senior Tom Wintheiser (120 pounds last season) and junior Jacob Hein (195) and sophomore Tyler Schanen (113), junior Tyler Huckstorf (126), sophomore Alex Reddick (132) and junior Caleb Lau (152).
"In addition to the solid leadership of our upperclassmen, there are a host of younger wrestlers chomping at the bit to make bigger contributions to the team this year," Fortmann said.
Despite losing a strong senior class, Mukwonago is the Classic 8 favorite having won the conference each of the past six seasons. Arrowhead and Waukesha South will also challenge Muskego for a top spot in the league standings.
"All of our experience should allow us to compete well in a conference with some very solid programs," Fortmann said. "We view the upcoming season as a process that emphasizes continuous improvement. If we can continue to work hard and embrace the challenges that we will face this season, this could be one of the best in our program’s rich history."