This year has been full of firsts for the Waterloo High School wrestling team: the first team to tie an IHSA record, the first time a wrestler (Pat Bieber) has been ranked, the first wrestler (Denis Wilson) to reach 32 wins in one season in years, the first time anyone has won a regional title, and with Bieber’s regional win he will have a shot to be the first Bulldog wrestler to make it to State.
“I think it’s a doable deal,” Waterloo wrestling coach Pat Stewart said about Bieber’s chances of qualifying for State out of Sectionals this weekend. Coach Stewart says Bieber’s teammate Denis Wilson has a chance as well, “Denis controls his own destiny.”
In last weekend’s Carbondale Regional, the Bulldogs took seventh place overall as a team, while Cahokia (1st), Marion (2nd) and Herrin (3rd) took the tourney’s top three spots.
Although the ‘Dogs did not advance as a team, junior Pat Bieber (182 pound weight class) and senior Denis Wilson (220) qualified for sectionals individually placing first and third, respectably, in their weight classes. The top three individuals make it to the sectional meet this Saturday with Waterloo qualifiers competing in Matoon.
With Wilson’s win last weekend at Regionals, he now has tied the record for most wins in one season with former Bulldog wrestler Jeff Stafford. Wilson improved his record to 32-8 on the season, while Bieber is right behind him with a record of 31-6.Waterloo junior wrestler Pat Bieber is pictured on the winner’s stand after his first place finish at Saturday’s IHSA Regional meet.
Bieber is currently ranked No. 9 in the 182-pound weight class in the state among Class 2A schools, according to Illinois Matmen, making him the first Bulldog wrestler to ever be ranked in the state.
Also placing at Regionals, senior Jackson Jennings (170); junior William Stafford (285), who is the brother of record holder Jeff Stafford; freshman Austin Stewart. As of presstime, Stewart had a chance to wrestle as an alternative at Sectionals due to his third place opponent’s possible arm injury. If Cahokia’s Demo Phillips, who placed one ahead of Stewart at sectionals, can’t wrestle, Stewart will automatically earn a spot in the sectional meet.
Austin’s brother, Paul Stewart, won the 50th match of his career at Regionals. Stewart is a sophomore, which puts him on track to possibly reach 100 wins by the end of his high school career. No wrestler in Waterloo program history has ever reached 100 wins, according to his dad and coach, Pat Stewart. Coach Stewart’s son is not the only one capable of reaching that mark, Bieber and others could make Waterloo wrestling history the next year or two as well.
Coming into the Regional meet last weekend, Waterloo took fifth place in the Mississippi Valley Conference Tournament. Senior Denis Wilson and junior Pat Bieber each earned spots on the All-Conference First Team. Sophomore Paul Stewart made Second Team All-Conference, while seniors Jackson Jennings and Isaac Dodd were named honorable mention.