HUDSON, Wis.-- The Hudson wrestling team’s 2019-20 season gets underway Thursday night, Dec. 5, with a Big Rivers Conference dual at Chippewa Falls and as always, the Raider plan to be at, or near, the top of the BRC standings.

Hudson has won the BRC title four of the last five years and reached the team state tournament three times in that span. Like every season, head coach Chris Hansen said this year’s Raiders have big plans and high goals.

“My guys work really hard all year,” Hansen said. “Our goals get developed by the work we do and the kids have worked very hard. Can we get back to Team State? I don't know but I don't see why not.”

The Raiders will be led this season by co-captains Leo Draveling (senior) and Peter Hansen (junior). Both are returning MVP’s from last year’s squad and both have experience at the WIAA State Individual Tournament.

“Peter and Leo are back-to-back weights and will spend time together in every single practice this season,” Hansen said. “Their success really relies on each other. They are tremendous leaders and I think can carry this team when things get tough.”

Although light on seniors, this year’s Raiders are not light on experience. Along with Draveling and Peter Hansen, Jacob Hansen, Matthew Feia, Jacob Fanning, Hank Gierke and Ben Steltzner have hundreds of matches under their belt and all train in the off-season, mostly wrestling freestyle and a little Greco-Roman.

“That group of seven makes up 50 percent of our line-up,” Coach Hansen said. “But it is really the other 50 percent that will determine how far we go, Hansen said. “I have a bunch of other really awesome wrestlers who just need to elevate their game to what they are capable of. AJ Henn, Bryce Hunsberger, Erik Stubbendick and Joey Sullivan come to mind as key individuals who can have a break-out season. A lot of that comes down to goal setting. It doesn't matter what I want them to do, it matters what they want to do.”

Another critical factor to the Raider’s success is depth. Hudson’s success over the years has helped grow a large and strong wrestling community, and Hansen said he expects varsity contributions from a bunch of newcomers, including Marta Jasperson, Ray Hornung, Riley Steltzner, Ryan Rambo and Dakota Rose.

“We have 40 athletes on the roster,” the coach said. “Who knows who else is going to make an impact? I can see Nick Fish and Graeme Anderson getting varsity time also.”

As always, the Raiders have one of the toughest schedules in the state again this season and will spend a lot of time on the road. That includes tournaments at Winona, Wisconsin Dells, Fond du Lac, and the Bi-State Classic in La Crosse all before the new year.

“It’s a necessary evil but we have to chase the losses,” Hansen said.

Following this Thursday’s BRC dual at Chippewa Falls the Raiders will head to Winona Saturday, Dec. 7, before their home opener against defending BRC champion River Falls Thursday, Dec. 12.