With the majority of its roster returning from last season, the New Berlin wrestling team has its eyes on taking the next step as a program.
The co-op program between New Berlin Eisenhower and New Berlin West returns 12 letter winners, including nine sectional qualifiers, from last year's team that finished 17-7 overall and 3-4 in the Woodland Conference.
"We've had a young team filled primarily with freshmen and sophomores the past few years," New Berlin coach Patrick Detmer said. "Those kids have worked hard, stuck with the sport and are now ready to take the next step."
Senior Joey Scaffidi and junior Jake Belongia are back after winning Woodland Conference championships and earning trips to the WIAA individual state tournament last season.
Wrestling at 160 points, Scaffidi won 79 percent of his matches with 19 pins and 51 takedowns. He took second at sectionals to qualify for state, where he was pinned in 3 minutes, 11 seconds by Jose Rodriguez of Kenosha Indian Trail.
Belongia was victorious in 90 percent of his matches with 23 pins and a team-leading 56 takedowns a year ago, making state at 170 pounds by coming in second at sectionals. He went 0-2 at state, as he was pinned by Connor Williams of LaCrosse Central in 1 minute, 7 seconds and then fell 8-1 to Blair Mulholland of Kimberly.
Other sectional qualifiers returning for New Berlin include junior Rob Snyder (106 pounds last season), sophomore Nathan Curci (113), sophomore Tony Scaffidi (126, 17 pins), junior Peter Katris (132), junior Mike Baumann (regional champion at 138, 48 takedowns), junior Mike White and senior Jaron Radish (182).
New Berlin also brings back Jacob Reyes, Zak Leverenz and Zach Hansen. The co-op lost just two wrestlers to graduation in Cameron Jakubowski (sectional qualifier at 152 pounds) and Brenton Kryszak.
Newcomers to the varsity roster are Max Lewis, Andy Kaucic, Derek Ryan, Donovan Acevedo, Austin Englehardt, Noah Clarke and Henry Rahmes.
New Berlin took fifth place in the eight-team Woodland Conference last season, finishing behind Greenfield, Pewaukee, Wauwatosa and Whitnall/Greendale. Detmer expects the same four teams to be his team's competition for a top spot in the league this year.
The co-op was scheduled to open its season with a Woodland Conference dual meet against South Milwaukee on Nov. 30. New Berlin will travel to Madison West for a dual meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1.
"We've talked a lot about the fact that we will no longer sneak up on anyone," Detmer said. "We need to earn our success in the practice room if we want to be successful this year."