COLEMAN, Wis. (WFRV) – It’s a challenge in and of itself to compete for a state title – but defending it is a different beast entirely.
Luckily for the Coleman Cougars, the “hunted” is a tag the green singlet wears on a weekly basis.
“I think it’s a culture thing here,” senior Tyler Blanchard said, “so I think every year you always have a target on your back.”
Dominance is a standard, and for the second straight year, the entire Coleman wrestling team has exemplified that.
“From top to bottom, we have no holes,” head coach Kevin Casper said. “Every single kid that wrestles – we had 13 wrestlers at regionals last weekend and out of those 13, every single one of them placed in the top five.”
The Cougars are no stranger to high-level success on the mat. After taking four individual wrestlers to state last weekend, the attention now turns to team state – where Coleman has a chance to do what very few teams have ever done and go back-to-back twice in one decade.
“Going back to team state, that’s huge for us,” heavyweight Spencer Karban said. “Especially being a senior it’s my last chance, my teammates’ last chance and it’s a big deal to go back-to-back.”
“Feel very fortunate to be in that position, to have an opportunity to win back-to-back titles,” Casper said. “That would be great for our community and great for these kids.”
In some ways, the prospect of bringing home the team trophy means even more than a gold medal – because it takes the contribution of every wrestler in the program.
“As a team bond it means a lot because you’re pushing each other every day in the practice room,” said Karson Casper, a 2020 state champion in the individual tournament. “You’re working toward the same goal of winning a state title.”
“Being able to go down there and being able to compete for the second straight is awesome,” sophomore Ray LeMieux said. “Being able to have everyone in this room having a contribution to it – and not just having it be one person – everyone’s wrestling to help us get down there and be able to win another state championship.”
A season in doubt from the beginning reaches its conclusion with Coleman heading to Division 3 team state as the top seed. The ultimate goal – the trophy, the team pictures, and a place in the history book – would be a fitting reward at the end of the hardest year.
“This whole year’s been different, so going out there as a team, especially during this year, if we come out and win a title, it’s gonna be something we’ll remember forever,” Blanchard said.
“Not just because of the title itself, but because of the year we did it and the odds we had to overcome.”