Prescott wrestling head coach Jordan Poirier faces the challenge this year, as Prescott has often done in the past, of striking a delicate balance between a team and individual focus. The Cardinals are unable to field all 14 weight classes and the amount of forfeits they give up makes it difficult to be competitive in duals. So Prescott, Poirier and the wrestlers operate a little differently than most other teams.

“We focus more on individual matches, the team score really doesn’t make a difference at the end of the day,” he said. “You go out there with 11 kids, giving up a lot of forfeits, you focus individually on each specific match and tell the kids that ‘we’re gonna go out there, you wrestle your match and you win your match’ and that’s it. That’s what we can control, the rest of it is out of our control, so we’re just going to focus on what we can control and go from there.”

Poirier said they still set team goals when it comes to the dual meets, but they’re realistic. The main one is to win the majority of matches the team wrestles. Talking after hosting the New Richmond Tigers on Thursday, Poirier said that the two varsity wins out of eight wrestled matches was not good enough.

The Cardinals have two weeks until the postseason starts, which is kicked off by the Middle Border Conference tournament on Saturday, Feb. 8, in New Richmond. Poirier said that everything they do now is to get ready to wrestle in February.

“What we’ve been focusing on a lot is just being mentally ready. December is kind of that ‘we have to work, we have to practice, we have to gauge where we are’. January is when we start fine-tuning those things and as February starts rolling around, we have to be mentally ready to go, mentally fine-tuned into those matches,” he said. “Conference is really that first February experience where this is our tell-tale sign what the following week (regionals) will look like.”

With more of an individual focus this year, Poirier singled out several wrestlers who could achieve great things come February, starting with Sam Murphy at 132 pounds. Murphy was a sectional qualifier last year despite having a record around .500 during the regular season and things have started to click.

“He made it to sectionals last year but this year he’s just turned the corner,” Poirier said. “The first few weeks of the season he was .500, just kind of floating around there, then after Christmas when we went to the Northern Badger he won six matches, went 6-1 and took fifth place there. (Murphy) just turned the corner and he’s been winning ever since.”

“He’s (Murphy) just starting to put it all together,” Poirier continued. “He’s learned now how to wrestle like a high-schooler, he’s transitioned past the middle school stages, he’s focused on his feet where he can score a lot of points, he scores a lot of points on his feet, he’s working on top to score points, he’s escaping from people and he’s maintaining good position. Just putting all that together, it leads to wins and wins against good kids.”

Joe Schulte (220) was a state entrant last season and Poirier said the goal this year is to just “take it one tournament at a time.” He said last season they may have gotten ahead of themselves and ended up learning a hard lesson at state, but one that will help them.

Then there’s Shawn Thomason, who wrestles under the 285 weight class for Prescott. Poirier said he’s been up-and-down so far this season, but that Thomason has shown plenty of good things and “keep gaining confidence out there.”

Finally, there is Ryan Pederson at 113 pounds.

“Ryan Pederson continues to wrestle well, keeps beating good kids,” Poirier said. “Hopefully we get into regionals and he’s ready to go again. He was a match away from going to the state tournament last year, so hoping to take that next step now with him.”

Prescott travels to Arcadia for a tournament on Saturday, then goes to Osceola for its last dual meet of the season on Thursday, Jan. 30.

Wrestling at 132 pounds for the Cardinals was Sam Murphy, who dominated his opponent on the way to a tech fall win. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia
Wrestling at 132 pounds for the Cardinals was Sam Murphy, who dominated his opponent on the way to a tech fall win. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia

Below are the full results of the Cardinals’ home dual against New Richmond, which the Tigers won 51-23.

145: Alex Holt lost to Tyler Dennis by fall in 3 minutes, 28 seconds. 6-0 NR

152: Isaiah Tulip lost to Cayden Henning by tech fall. 11-0 NR

160. Prescott forfeit to Christian Moeller. 17-0 NR

170: Prescott forfeit to Sam La Pean. 23-0 NR

182: Double forfeit. 23-0 NR

195: Zach Middleton lost to Parker Stephens by fall in 1:30. 29-0 NR

220: Joe Schulte beat Ryan Muller by fall in 2:32. 29-6 NR

285: Shawn Thomason lost to Adam Stener by fall in 5:04. 35-6 NR

106: Bennie Olson received a forfeit by New Richmond. 35-12 NR

113: Ryan Pederson received a forfeit by New Richmond. 35-18 NR

120: Alex Iberg lost to Bode Gabriel by a 13-2 major decision. 39-18 NR

126: Shane Butler lost to Noah Henning by fall in 3:12. 45-18 NR

132: Sam Murphy beat Tyler Harris by tech fall. 45-23 NR

138: Prescott forfeit to Brandon Dennis. 51-23 NR