The student news site of University of Wisconsin-Platteville.


The student news site of University of Wisconsin-Platteville.


The student news site of University of Wisconsin-Platteville.


Drees, Walter look to improve wrestling team

As the weather turns colder outside, the temperature rises in the University of Wisconsin-Platteville wrestling room. Another year marks a fresh start for a program that has struggled as a whole the last few seasons.

In the 2011-12 campaign, the Pioneers went 7-12 in dual meets. T.J. Wunnicke led the team individually with a 31-7 record, making it to the NCAA Division III National Championships, where he went 1-2.

Wunnicke will be on the team this season, as he did not return to the University this year.

The Pioneers add junior 125-pound Mack Drees back into the lineup. Drees missed the second half of the 2011-12 season due to injuries sustained in a four-wheeler accident. Dress qualified for the NCAA D-III National Championships in 2010-11.

“(Drees) being gone hurt the team more emotionally than what it affected on the mat,” head coach Chris Walter said. “He is a guy who adds team chemistry. He raises the team morale and the fact that he was able to come back from those injuries really uplifts the team.”

The wrestlers have had a successful offseason strength and conditioning program that has focused on weight exercises that are more similar to wrestling activities, according to Walter.

Assistant coach Scott McWilliams has been in charge of managing the wrestlers through the strength program.

This year’s Pioneer wrestling team will feature a mix of youth and experience.

“We’re going to have good experience at some slots and we’re going to have freshmen that compete for starting positions. It’s going to be an interesting mix,” Walter said.

Walter also sees a different attitude from the team after the end of last season.

“Last year’s conference tournament was embarrassing. I’ve had a sour taste in my mouth since March, and I know our team has too,” Walter said.

Walter says that he knows the team has a good potential to succeed this season.

“We’re going to be much better team in the second semester,” Walter said.

Junior 187-pound from Bettendorf, Iowa Devin Johnson shares his coach’s optimism.

“My goals for this season as a team are to compete well with the UW-Whitewaters and La Crosses in the conference. We are going to have fairly experienced team and we are going to improve overall,” Johnson said.

Johnson also said that the team has had its best offseason of strength and conditioning he has seen in his time at UW-Platteville.

D-III wrestling received a major change from the NCAA with the addition of a Regional round in the qualification process for the NCAA D-III Wrestling Championships.

In the new system, the nation is split into six regions, and the first-, second- and third-place wrestlers from each weight class in the regional tournament qualify for nationals.

“The old system was flawed. It featured a lot of politics. I like that now what happens within the circle matters more than what people think outside of the circle,” Walter said.

The Pioneers are including a trip to Pennsylvania during winter break into their schedule.

“We’re taking this opportunity because some of these guys would never have been able to get out there, and outside of wrestling we are going to see sites like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall and the Rocky statue,” Walter said.

“We are also going to get Tastykakes and a real Philly cheesesteak. We probably won’t make weight on the last day,” Walter added with a laugh.

The team will host the first winter sports home event of the season in their Nov. 8 dual against University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

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Drees, Walter look to improve wrestling team