Thurston Schuster was thrust into the lead role as head coach of the Waterloo High School wrestling program last season, and all he did was lead the program to a place it had never gone before — the Capitol South Conference dual championship.
Schuster returns for his second season with not only with the experience of being a head coach, but with several pieces back from that dual title team.
“It was definitely a learning experience last year being a first-time head coach,” said Schuster “The hardest thing for me was learning how to balance wrestling, conditioning, nutrition, and weight training through a long winter season where kids can be peaking at the right time — figuring out when to be a little tougher on the kids and when to lay it back. I thought we did a decent job at it last year, but we can always improve on it.”
Schuster will first have to find replacements at some key weights as three WIAA Division 3 regional champions, among them a state qualifier, were lost to graduation. Ted Rowbotham and Eduardo Garcia graduated, as did Carlos Garcia, the program’s first WIAA state qualifier in five years.
“It is going to be sad not having Carlos in the wrestling room this season, but I believe we have some upperclassmen that are ready to take on the challenge of being our team leaders and keep us competing at a high level,” Schuster said. “I think that kids saw the determination and work ethic Carlos put in to become a state qualifier, and know how hard they need to work if they want to find success in this sport.”
Junior Juan Alonso won a regional championship and finished 34-9 at 126 pounds, while junior Reynol Limon went 24-16 and won a regional title at 182. However, Schuster plans on Limon wrestling at 170.
“We have a couple returning sectional qualifiers in Juan Alonso and Reynol Limon,” Schuster said.
While the Garcia twins graduated, another set of twins will be a key to the Pirates’ program, juniors Jonathan and Jordi Aguero. They will wrestle at 132 and 152, respectively.
“Jordi just missed out on sectionals last year and Jon was out with a torn ACL. But all these kids have put in some major dedication in the off-season, and I am excited to see what they bring to our team this year,” said Schuster. “We have 17 kids out for wrestling this year but we are having to fill four large holes our seniors left us. I believe these kids will step up to the challenge and stay competitive in the race for the Capitol South and try to repeat as the conference champions.
“I think that all four teams (in the Capitol South) are returning some decent depth, so it should be exciting to see in January who can take the title.”
The Pirates will open the season Saturday competing in the Johnson Creek Invite. Wrestling begins at 9:15 a.m.
2019-20 WATERLOO WRESTLING SCHEDULE
(Home meets in CAPS)
Sat., Dec. 7 Johnson Creek Invite, 9:15 a.m.
Tues., Dec. 10 MARKESAN, 7 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 14 Horicon Invite, 9 a.m.
Sat., Dec. 21 WATERLOO INVITE, 9 a.m.
Sat., Jan. 4 Lancaster Invite, 9 a.m.
Sat, Jan. 9 Belleville, 6 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 11 North Fond du Lac Invite, 8 a.m.
Tues., Jan. 14 COLUMBUS, 7 p.m.
Tues., Jan. 21 Jefferson, 7 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 24 Poynette Invite, 4 p.m.
Tues. Jan. 28 Watertown Luther Prep, 7 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 8 Capitol Conference Meet
Mon., Feb. 10 Columbus Invite, 5 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 15 WIAA Regionals (@ Johnson Creek)
Sat., Feb. 22 WIAA Sectionals (@ Dodgeland)
Feb. 27-29 WIAA State Meet (@ Madison)