There’s a new partnership on the wrestling mats with the co-op between neighboring Hall and Putnam County high schools this season.
The new co-op not only brings wrestling back to Hall for the first time since 2005 when the program was dropped due to low numbers and budget concerns, but provides PC with a much-needed boost in numbers. PC started up its program just four years ago.
Head coach Harold Kriewalk said the nature of the sport has made for an easy team bonding and partnership.
“They developed instant respect for one another just going out for this sport. They realize they are stronger together,” he said. “Some of the kids from Spring Valley are stepping up and really improving a lot. It’s fantastic, because we actually have depth. In practice somebody said the other day, ‘Hey, I haven’t wrestled you yet.” Something like that is really exciting.”
The Hall-PC co-op boasts 25 grapplers, split nearly even between the two schools. Kriewald expect to be able to field 12 of the 14 weight classes this season, still needing to fill the 106, 113 and 120-pound weight classes.
PC senior Tyrell Foockle (160), having posted a 23-8 record his junior season is joined by his twin brother, Lucas, and Jacob Levy, who both wrestle at 152, and senior Dylon Croissant (132).
The rest of the lineup includes Mario Flores and Victor Lopez at 126, Dylon Croisant, Charlie Albert and Kurt Nabers at 132, Tyler Taber at 138, Joe Boggio and Joe Romanelli at 145, Jacob Levy, Luke McCook, Blake Lunn and Cole Elliott at 152, Lucas Foockle, Tyrell Foockle and Tony Scheri at 160, Mike Milasuski at 170, Austin Pletsch, Jeremy Lucas and James Hall at 182, Nathan Tonozzi and Evan Kiphart at 195, Aaron Kerr at 220 and Marco Gutierrez at heavyweight.
The F/S squad has already raised the bar by winning the 12-team Sterling Newman Invite, beating out Rock Falls and Oregon for the title.
“When you can achieve that in your first competition, the sky is the limit,” Kriewald said. “You always have the expectations of ‘do the best you can do,” but I would definitely hope for setional qualifications and then see what happens,” Kriewald said of his top wrestlers.
Kriewald, who wrestled for Dubuque University, said the exciting part of coaching wrestling is watching his kids develop and mature.
“Wrestling is a lifestyle, not just a sport. You have to change your diet and daily habits just to practice well, never mind compete,” he said.
The Panthers will make their home debut Dec.12 vs. Dwight and Marquette. They will host the Putnam County Super Dual on Jan. 26, bringing Marquette, St. Bede, Peoria Notre Dame and Midland to the RM Germano Gymnasium mats.