It may only be two weeks into the season, but Hudson wrestling coach Chris Hansen knows this Thursday's dual at River Falls will go a long way towards determining the Big Rivers Conference championship. Judging by the Raider's first week of competition, they are ready for the challenge.
The Raiders rolled over Chippewa Falls, 62-15, in their BRC and season opener Thursday, Nov. 29, before going 4-0 Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Mondovi Duals. Hansen said Saturday's duals in Mondovi were particularly important in preparing his young team for Thursday night's showdown in River Falls.
"Although Saturday was technically duals, we didn't really approach it that way," he said. "We were just getting individual matches and trying to get to some situations we think we will see in the huge dual this Thursday against River Falls. I am very fortunate to have flexibility in my scheduling so when we realized nine months ago the young team we would have and the fact that we would see both River Falls and Chippewa Falls by Dec. 6, we got this event scheduled. I am very confident these young guys figured some things out."
They certainly had things figured out against Chippewa Falls last Thursday. The score was tied 9-9 after the first four matches before Hudson registered six straight pins to blow it open.
Jacob Fanning, Matthew Feia, Leo Draveling, Bryce Hunsberger, Skyler Weinzirl and Logan Hatch all registered pins from 113 to 145 pounds and Peter Hansen followed with a technical fall at 152 to help Hudson open up a 50-9 lead. Jacob Hansen and Hank Gierke closed the match with pins at 170 and 182 to make the final 62-15.
The most anticipated match of the night was between Peter Hansen and Chippewa Falls' Ross Kaz at 152, but it turned out to be all Peter Hansen as he cruised to a 16-1 technical fall.
Seven of the eight Raider pins on the night came in the first period, including the first career varsity pins for freshmen Weinzirl and Jacob Hansen. Ben Steltzner also recorded his first varsity win with a 6-4 decision at 220.
"I was really pleased with Ben Steltzner hanging on for a 6-4 decision to record his first ever varsity win," Hansen said. "Chippewa Falls placed third in the conference last year and I think they will be close to that this year, so it was a nice dual for us to have the score we did."
The Raiders kept on scoring Saturday in Mondovi, beating the host Buffaloes 60-18, Chetek-Weyerhaeuser/Prairie Farm 60-15, Independence/Gilmanton 72-6, and Osseo-Fairchild/Augusta/Fall Creek 72-6.
"This is the youngest and most inexperienced team I think I have ever had, so it was nice to start out with some duals that we could compete in," Hansen said.
This Thursday's match at River Falls gets underway at 7 p.m. at River Falls High School, and Hansen said the winner will gain the upper hand in the race for the BRC title.
"The match will have huge implications for the conference championship," he said. "I think it will be almost impossible for the loser to come back and be BRC champs, so we are approaching it that way with that level of importance."