Loss of Dieringer, other standouts shouldn’t keep wrestlers from shining again
It’s no secret where the mat spotlight has been focused the last four years for the Port Washington Pirates.
Alex Dieringer, a nationally ranked, three-time WIAA champion and the winningest wrestler in Port High School history, garnered the lion’s share of attention before enrolling at Oklahoma State University on scholarship this fall.THERE’S PLENTY of talent and experience on the Port Washington High School wrestling team this season. The Pirates’ varsity veterans include (front row, from left) Brandon Moeller, Robby Anheier, Calvin Harbaugh, Noah Rosado, Eli Rosado, Josh Meins, (back row) Quentin Lueck, Tyler Madden, Tyler Brown, Bret Winker, Andy Fidler, Ryan Stietz, Adam Dreikosen, Tyler Griswald and Nate Schnell. Photo by Sam Arendt
The graduation of the 145-pound state champ and other standouts such as state qualifiers Justin Meins (125) and Jake Maechtle (135) has thinned the Pirates’ wrestling cupboard, but not left it bare.
“We lost Alex, Justin and Jake and several other wrestlers. You can’t replace the No. 1 guy in the nation, but we’ve got some good ones back,” Port coach Angelo LaRosa said.
“We’re really young, but most of them are very experienced wrestlers for their age.”
Numbers are also no problem for the Pirates, who have more than 30 wrestlers vying for spots in the varsity lineup.
Port, which has won 10 consecutive North Shore Conference team titles, should have no trouble putting talent in all 14 weight classes.
Leading the Pirates’ veteran contingent are seven wrestlers who reached the sectional level last season. The list with their qualifying weights includes seniors Adam Dreikosen (130) and Tyler Griswald (285), juniors Eli Rosado (119), Nate Schnell (140) and Josh Meins (171) and sophomores Noah Rosado (103) and Calvin Harbaugh (112).
Most are expected to move up to slightly higher weights this season. Two notable exceptions, LaRosa said, are Griswald and Meins, who are probably headed for 220 and 160, respectively.
“We’re looking for a huge season from the guys coming back,” LaRosa said. “They’ve worked really hard in the off-season.”
Last season, Meins had a 28-13 record, Schnell was 25-12 and Eli Rosado was 23-15.
LaRosa is also counting on big things from wrestlers such as senior Bret Winker (170), junior Ryan Stietz (195), sophomores Andy Fidler (285) and Robby Anheier (120) and freshmen Jordan Dieringer (152) and Zach Smith (113).
“I think we’ll be very strong from 106 to 152. Our first seven or eight guys are really tough,” LaRosa said.
“Our biggest numbers are at 132 to 152. We have a lot of guys who are at 140-ish.”
Other wrestlers vying for spots in the lineup include juniors Tyler Madden (138) and Tyler Brown (182) and sophomores Brandon Moeller (138) and Quentin Lueck (145).
Having dominated conference competition for years, the Pirates have turned their focus on higher-profile meets in recent seasons.
Topping their list of weekend tournaments again will be the Cheesehead Invitational, which brings nationally ranked teams and individuals to Kaukauna in January.
The experience his top wrestlers received in national competition during the off-season is also invaluable, LaRosa noted.
“We had nine or 10 guys go to Fargo (N.D.) this year,” he said. “They know what it takes to reach their full potential.”
Not surprisingly, the Pirates will waste no time facing tough opposition. They will open the season Friday, Dec. 2, at a 5 p.m. quadrangular meet in Hartford that includes perennial powers Arrowhead, West Allis Central and the host team.
The next day, Port travels to Luxemburg-Casco for a 9 a.m. invitational featuring a strong field.
“Our guys are hungry and want to face the best,” LaRosa said. “We have 10 guys who want to be the next Alex.”
Bolstering the Pirates’ arsenal this season is a new assistant coach. Matt Zwaschka, a former University of Wisconsin-Whitewater wrestler and assistant coach, has joined LaRosa’s staff.
Zwaschka teaches physical education at Port High.
Although the Pirates will be the heavy favorite to win another conference championship this season, LaRosa said he expects competition from Germantown, Homestead and Whitefish Bay.
Port’s first home meet will be Dec. 8 when it faces Homestead at 6:30 p.m.