WHS wrestler takes fall for greater good

Pictured, the referee holds up the arm of Civic Memorial wrestler Joey Gremli following his victorious match against Waterloo’s Liam Kennedy. (submitted photo)

The Waterloo High School wrestling team improved to 12-3 in dual matches this season with a victory last week over Civic Memorial, but it was one teammate’s defeat that showed the true character of coach Pat Stewart’s program.

It was senior night in Bethalto, and in an effort to honor one of Civic Memorial’s senior wrestlers — who is a special needs student — WHS freshman wrestler Liam Kennedy accepted the challenge and took to the mat.

The crowd stood and clapped as Kennedy wrestled CM’s Joey Gremli on his senior night, ultimately resulting in the win of a lifetime for Gremli.

“The CM coach said our wrestler didn’t have to let him win, but Liam is such a good kid,” coach Stewart said. “Liam was a true sportsman and let the wrestler win the match.”

Pat Bieber with his Outstanding Wrestler award from the Quincy Tournament. (submitted photo)

The positive vibes resulting from this match carried over to the weekend, and Waterloo finished 10th out of 25 teams in a competitive Quincy tournament.

“We had never been in the top 20 since joining the tournament in 2009,” Stewart said.

A participant at state last season, WHS wrestler Pat Bieber won first place and was named Outstanding Wrestler for the entire tournament. This honor is voted on by all 25 coaches.

Other wrestlers placing in the tourney were Max Jennings (sixth place), Zach Shaw and Paul Stewart (seventh place), Cole Milam (ninth place) and Austin Stewart (10th place).

Bieber, Paul Stewart, Kerstan Panzau and Austin Stewart have each registered at least 20 wins so far this season in their respective weight classes, the coach said.

The team now has its sights set on the Mississippi Valley Conference wrestling meet to be held Feb. 1 at Mascoutah. The program has never before won the conference, but coach Stewart thinks this could be the year.

“It’ll probably come down to us and Highland, but we have a pretty good chance,” he said.

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