Forgive Ted Schermetzler if he had his doubts.
Not only did North’s track and field coach surprisingly get his season taken away several days into practice because of COVID-19, he was hired to coach the wrestling team and the start of the season kept getting delayed.
“My gut said up until a couple of weeks ago, the likely hood of a season was not going to happen,” he said. “But the WIAA has done a nice job of giving an opportunity for it to happen.”
Unfortunately for Schermetzler, his reward is getting to deal with masks making their debut on the mat. But to his surprise, his athletes actually bought into the idea and are handling the situation rather well.
“There hasn’t been too many challenges that we would not have figured,” he said. “Like when you get a cross-face, yeah the mask is going to move. But we’re treating it like it’s headgear, so it has the same necessity that headgear does for your protection in a match.
“We haven’t competed yet, but we’re treating it the same. That you need to have it on for your protection, so if it moves or comes out of position, we stop and put it back on for the safety of all involved.”
The first match is likely to be held the second week of January, and the Golden Raiders will count on seniors Kade Allen (19-17 last year) and Christopher Ruiz. Junior Dorian Gebert is another key returner.
Five regulars from last season have to be replaced, including Cassius Rohadfox, who made all-conference honorable mention.
Mitchell Elmer was North’s coach but stepped aside after a handful of seasons.
Schermetzler, a long-time assistant for the Golden Raiders who served as head coach for one year before Elmer was hired, was asked by the school to take over the program.
The Redwings were hoping to have two all-conference wrestlers back, but Crespin Wesley, who was 6-1 and made the second team last season, did not return to the team because of the pandemic.
That leaves South without any seniors.
However, junior Cade Duwell is back after also going 6-1 to earn a spot on the first team.
Another key loss is Mitchell Prueser. He graduated and was the lone Redwing to reach sectionals last year.