A strong corps of seven returnees from last season's Woodland Conference co-championship team gives the Greenfield wrestlers high hopes for 2016-17.
The veterans are junior Isiah Culp at 106 pounds, junior Michael Reyes (113), junior Alex Schroeter (120), junior Nat Schroeter (132), junior Mateo Arteaga (145), junior Kevin Pollack (152) and sophomore Jayce Craig (195).
The Hustlin' Hawks must replace Tre'Vaughn Craig, who won a Woodland championship and competed at the WIAA Division 1 state meet last season, and Nick Pollack, who also claimed a conference crown.
They do have six wrestlers who were Woodland runners-up in Kevin Pollack, Culp, Reyes, Alex Schroeter, Nat Schroeter and Arteaga.
Weller takes reins
They will all be directed by first-year head coach Mike Weller, who takes over for Chris Otto. Weller is a 1995 graduate of Greenfield High School.
"It is truly an honor to take over as head coach of the Hustlin' Hawks wrestling program," Weller said. "To sit in the chair that has been occupied by Bob Austin, Keith Morin and Tom Sobocinski, all coaches who have inspired me in some way, is very humbling. We will work hard to build on the success that coach Otto and the team achieved last season."
Rounding out the Greenfield lineup are junior Max Andrade (126), junior Dakota Kumbera (138), junior Wes Pilak (160), senior Jason Schilling (170), junior Andy Galoff (182) and senior Deven Guibord (220).
"We are not loaded with experienced seniors," Weller said, "but we do have a number of wrestlers who have quite a bit of experience who are entering their third year of varsity wrestling.
"We have a number of wrestlers who had very successful seasons a year ago but are looking at taking the next step, which would be winning a conference championship, winning a regional championship or finishing in one of the top two spots at sectionals to earn a trip to state."
The Hawks opened by routing Pius XI, 66-12, on Nov. 29 in a Woodland dual meet. Recording pins were Craig, Guibord, Andrade and Nat Schroeter, and picking up forfeits were Jacob Christensen (106), Reyes, Alex Wieczorek (120), Alex Schroeter, Kumbera, Arteaga and Pollack.
Take fourth place
Greenfield then came in fourth with 346 points in the Kimberly Invitational on Dec. 3. The 16-team event was won by Sun Prairie with 552 points.
The Hawks had four medal winners in Culp (second), Nat Schroeter (third), Alex Schroeter (third) and Craig (fourth). Earning fifth were Arteaga, Pollack and Guibord.
"This is a quality tournament to start our season," Weller said. "Having said that, I think we wrestled well, but we come away from this weekend with plenty to work on. Isiah had a really nice off-season. He really sought out quality competition, and the experience he gained benefited him."
Assisting Weller this season are four other Greenfield graduates: Tom Pecora, Jeremy Flink, Taylor Wirtz and Andy Krueger.