The Waterloo High School wrestling team will be looking to make history at this weekend’s Mississippi Valley Conference Tournament on Saturday.
The Bulldogs will be battling for their first conference title in the sport.
The team finished the regular dual meet season at 13-3 with an easy win at home over Sparta on Thursday. The Bulldogs, currently ranked 13th in the state for Class 2A, honored six seniors during their final home match: Carter Pate, Cole Lawrence, Mack Mundy, Austin Stewart, Kory Schaefer and Max Jennings.
Now that the regular season is over, it’s time to focus on winning that conference title.
“I’m looking forward to winning the program and conference championship,” head coach Pat Stewart said. “If we win, it will be our first one.”
There are a lot of wrestlers who could also win an individual conference championship this season.
“I’m looking at Cory Cissell at 126 (pound weight class) having a good chance at winning conference,” Stewart said. “Austin Stewart at 152, winning conference. Mack Mundy at 145 has a good chance at winning conference. It depends on who some of the other teams wrestle at 182, whether Schaefer is ready to go at 182 to win that. If Triad lifts a kid up (a class), we may have a little trouble there because Kory is coming off of an injury and is still trying to get strong.”
That injury may have cost Schaefer a tournament win in Quincy over the Jan. 16-17 weekend. He took second place in his weight class in his first appearance in more than two weeks.
“He wrestled well,” Stewart said. “He got through some matches quick, which saved a little time. In the championship match, he had an opportunity to win. He had the kid on his back, but didn’t capitalize on it. He’s had just a little issue with his shoulder. That got to him. He got turned on his back and couldn’t get off of it. He was winning the match. That was his first time stepping on the mat since his injury before Christmas. He did really well.”
The team took seventh place in that tournament. Stewart thought they should have performed a bit better. Waterloo only had 10 active wrestlers of a possible 14 for that tournament. Stewart said that is probably why they didn’t reach a top-four team finish.
Dylan Siebenberger placed third; Bryce Kirk and Austin Stewart took fifth; Cody Cissell finished in seventh; and Max Jennings finished in eighth.
“Bryce Kirk wrestled super,” Stewart said. “He had one kid that probably he could have beaten any day. He probably should have placed third instead of fifth. Austin beat the kid that won the championship in the tournament at Lincoln. He lost a match that he should have won, but took fifth. The thing that bothered me at Quincy was having a couple kids that didn’t place. Ninth place doesn’t count for points. Only the top eight places count.”
Stewart will have 13 kids wrestling at the conference tournament this weekend.
“We’re very happy,” Stewart said. “We’ve been a little down in certain spots because we’ve been injured a little bit. As long as we’re healthy come Saturday, we feel like we have a good opportunity to win. It could be that we need a little help here and there, but hopefully the kids that we throw out there — we’re going to have 13 kids in the lineup out of 14 wrestlers. Hopefully, those 13 kids can pull it off.”
A couple of wrestlers may have a tough bracket.
“Dylan Siebenberger looks like he will get second in the conference — the kid from Highland is undefeated,” Stewart said. “I think the kids will do well. Cory Cissell has a really tough weight bracket — he’s got two kids that are ranked top-five in the state.”
The team has remained focused on a conference championship. This week has been all about gearing up for the match at Highland.
“We gave the kids Saturday off because we had a freshman tournament in O’Fallon,” Stewart said. “They got to stay home and do some running over the weekend. On Monday, more running to keep their cardio up. They’ve got to be ready to wrestle five matches. It’s a long day, but they know the goal. They just have to get focused this week. That’s what we’re going to concentrate on. Get through this weekend and get a good showing for Waterloo and hopefully win. Then get ready for regionals the following weekend.”
For photos from the meet against Sparta, click here.