Marshfield's Brad Dolezal returns to the Tigers' lineup after winning his second WIAA state title last year. (Photo by Paul Lecker/MarshfieldAreaSports.com)
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By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD – The Marshfield wrestling team had one of its more successful seasons last year.
The Tigers had 11 sectional qualifiers, five regional champions and four wrestlers compete at the WIAA State Individual Wrestling Tournament.
The good thing is the Tigers will head into the 2010-11 season with a majority of last year’s team intact.
Marshfield returns nine regulars from last season, including 145-pound Division 1 state champion Brad Dolezal (48-0) and 130-pound runner-up Torin Boernke (34-3).
Dolezal, who won his second state title last year to along with a runner-up finish as a sophomore, will wrestle at 160 pounds this season, while Boernke will start at 140 but may drop to 135 later in the season. Boernke also won a state title as a sophomore and took third as a freshman.
Daniel Barton (135), Josh Shupe (145), Kyler Strobel (152) and Robert Wille (189) are all seniors that are returning to the lineup as well.
Toran Nieman, who won more than 20 matches last season as a freshman, will move up from 103 to 112 pounds.
With all that experience returning, the Tigers are making a regional title – and a berth in the team sectional tournament – as a realistic goal for the upcoming season, which starts with a nonconference dual meet at home against Mosinee on Thursday and a tournament at Campbellsport on Saturday.
“We’ve never had eight seniors in the lineup at Marshfield,” Tigers coach Don Lang said. “If we can fill that 119 weight class well and once guys drop down, we can push Wausau West and Merrill just like we did last year at regionals.”
Marshfield took second last year at regionals, falling by just 10 ½ points to Wausau West. The Tigers will get a chance to see how they match up with West in a dual meet at home on Dec. 9, and at the Bi-State Tournament in La Crosse at the end of December.
Lang said wrestlers in the 130- to 152-pound range will probably drop a weight class later in the season.
Among the newcomers to the regular lineup are two seniors – Cody Cheek at heavyweight and Ben Wartella at 215 pounds. Cheek wrestled on the varsity as a sophomore for an injured Cale Schliesman, who reached sectionals a year ago.
Justin Sternweis, who replaced Dolezal at 145 when he moved up to 152 for the postseason, made it to sectionals and will move up to 171 pounds this season as a full-timer in the lineup.
Coming off strong football seasons, Lang said he is pleased with Wartella and Sternweis and how they are wrestling thus far.
“Ben hasn’t cracked the varsity lineup before being behind Jordan Koranda (a third-place state tournament finisher last year),” Lang said. “He was the starting nose tackle and is definitely a physical kid. He’s not afraid to stick his nose in there and get the job done.
“Just has really improved over the last few years. He’s looking good at practice in the first couple of weeks. He’s really matured, much more controlled, much more patient.”
Rounding out the lineup will at least two and possibly three freshmen.
Aaron Sternweis will be at 103 pounds and Carsten Lovstad will start at 125 pounds.
Sophomore Brett Pernsteiner and freshman Tyler Manthe will be in the mix at 119 pounds. Pernsteiner wrestled some matches on varsity last year.
“These guys are pretty green yet, they are going to learn a lot this season,” Lang said.
In the end, though, it will be the seniors that carry the load with eight in the 13 weight classes.
“Torin is looking really good, really enthusiastic, really excited about the season,” Lang said. “All of the seniors are jacked. Barton seems to be having a lot more fun. Shupe, Strobel seemed to be focused.”