Wrestling Preview; Young Muskies Look To Make Their
Oct. 31, 2003
By Corey Kempf
The Lakeland Muskies Wrestling Team is looking to make their mark with another step in the rebuilding process during the 2003-2004 season. Last year the Muskies concluded their season by finishing fourth of four teams at the Lake Michigan Conference Championships but should be able to improve on that with a full roster under third year head coach Pete Rogers.
Rogers took over the program with just three wrestlers in 2001 and brought in his first recruiting class last season. This year, Rogers has moved the program to the next level by having over 20 student-athletes on the team and filling all the weight slots. Last year the Muskies forfeited all weight classes that didn't have a wrestler. Although the team will be young, Rogers is expecting big things.
"Even though the team doesn't have any upperclassmen, the guys I have are really good," Rogers said. "The future of this team is very promising."
Led by sophomore Tim Vallier (174 lbs.), who set the school record for pins in one season as a freshman last year (at 157 lbs.), the Muskies could be dangerous in the conference. Vallier and fellow sophomore team leaders Matt Preimesberger (149 lbs.) and Lee Sparks (184 lbs.) will be thrust into a leadership position despite their youth.
"The sophomores are young but they're experienced on the mat with a season under their belts. But most importantly they know what our expectations are for this program on the mat and in the classroom," said Rogers.
Rogers expects newcomers Chad Newby (157 lbs.), Trevor Berndt (165 lbs.), Mark Vanden Hoogen (HWT), Sonny Martinez (157 lbs.) and Scott Toledo (125) to step right in and make an immediate impact.
"This is the best recruiting class we've had since I've been here," said Rogers about his second recruiting class (he was hired right before the season started in 2001). "They're real dedicated to our goals as a team and the future of Lakeland Wrestling."
The season starts for the Muskies on November 1st at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the first annual Dan Gable "Commitment to Excellence" Open. The tournament joins Division I, II, and III schools in one of the biggest and most competitive tournaments in the country.
Over winter break, the Muskies will travel to New Jersey for the first time ever for a Christmas tournament at the College of New Jersey.
"We're lucky to be able to get a wider variety of competition," said Rogers. "We've seen what we're able to do against the Midwest, now we want to see what we can do against the East Coast," Rogers said about the trip.
Rogers is especially looking forward to this season as he's anxious to see the fruits of his labor.
"I'm really looking forward to us taking it to the the next level," Rogers added. "We've got a really good group of guys here, and I'm hoping that all of them can step up."
With Pete Rogers at the helm, expect the Muskies to at least do that.