The Waterloo High School wrestling team is winning both on and off the mat this season.
The Bulldogs are 10-1 on the season following a 4-1 showing at the Marion tournament over the weekend.
In addition, the WHS wrestlers raised nearly $800 through a “Gifts From Grapplers” campaign that resulted in gifts for local families this holiday season.
Team members shopped at Target on Friday from a wish list provided to the team from families in need throughout the school district. Among the items purchased were clothes, toys and household essentials.
“It was an awesome experience and so cool to see the kids doing good for the community,” Waterloo head coach Chase Guercio said. “If all (assistant coach Rodney) Newbury and I have done is help them win a few wrestling matches, we haven’t done our job. That trip was what our program is all about.”
Last Tuesday, the Bulldogs won 47-36 over Althoff. Brett Howard, a heavyweight, recorded his second pinfall of the season within 10 seconds, doing it in just seven seconds this time.
The Bulldogs downed conference rival Jerseyville on Thursday, 48-28, getting pins from Howard, Damian Becker, Jacob Newbury, Trevor Link and Evan Fink.
Then the WHS grapplers enjoyed success in Marion despite some injuries at key weight classes.
Gold medalists for the Bulldogs at Marion were Gavin Hearren, Adron Winget, Brandon Lloyd, Fink and Howard.
Silvers went to Newbury and Link.
Guercio is impressed with Howard’s season thus far.
“Brett beat a tough sectional qualifier from Jersey and handled business against Althoff, getting his third pin of the season in under 15 seconds,” the coach said. “He went undefeated at the Marion tournament as well, which was huge for team points. I’m so proud of him.”
Fink, who took last season off, currently paces the team with a 12-2 record.
“His leadership is second to none,” Guercio said. “We are so happy he came back to join us this season.”
Lloyd, a sophomore, is also turning some heads.
“Maybe his best match was when he put state-ranked No. 2 Zeke Waltz from Jerseyville on his back at the end of the first period of their match,” Guercio said. “He could have held on for a pin but ran out of time in the period. Brandon is a guy who doesn’t get intimidated by anyone, and our team looks to him for confidence.”
Guercio said he is probably most proud of Evan Minier this season.
“He came out last year as a new wrestler and has worked so hard for us,” Guercio said. “He got his first varsity win of the season on Saturday, and he stepped up for us on short notice after some injuries at 195 pounds. A kid like Evan is a joy to coach and I love having him on the team.”
Jordan Sommers, who is 5-0 on the season at 195, is expected to return from injury this week.
Waterloo has matches this week against Belleville East, Carbondale and O’Fallon in addition to the Mascoutah tournament this weekend.