As the 2013-14 college wrestling team approaches another season, Coach Peterson is looking forward to increased numbers and solid returning leadership. “The culture of guys who just want to get out on the mat is getting much stronger here at MBBC,” remarks Peterson. “We have a lot of unknowns entering this season (injuries, strengths of players), but we are excited about the work that these guys have committed to over the offseason.”
The Crusaders will hope to boast approximately ten wrestlers on this year’s roster, a number that nearly doubles the size of last year’s squad. Nearly every player enters the season with some form of wrestling experience—a luxury that Coach Peterson admits he does not usually possess. “It will be great this year to not have to start from scratch with most of our guys. In past years, we’ve had to chase guys who never really wrestled before, but this year will definitely be different. We should look to compete right from the very beginning,” says Peterson.
Returning players who look to make an immediate impact for the Crusaders include senior Ricky Warren (Watertown, WI), and senior Jesse Gfefle (Ontario, WI). Warren, a four year wrestler, has been the team’s workout leader for several years through example and commitment. Gfefle, also a four year wrestler, exhibited tremendous improvement last year, and has the potential to obtain victories against solid wrestlers this year.
Also returning for Maranatha is senior Oliver Klein (Alexandria, VA), as well as sophomores Willie Warren (Watertown, WI), Zach Zimmerman (Trevor, WI), Ben Roohr (Hillsdale, MI), and J.B. Lamgo (Denver. CO). All of these players demonstrated tremendous improvement throughout the previous season, and this large group of returners hope to pick up right where they left off last year.
The Crusaders also look forward to the addition of high quality new talent, thanks to the presence of sophomore Thomas French (Memphis, TN), and freshman Ricky Berry (Bellgrade, MN). French, finally able to compete after missing several seasons due to injury, will bring top-level high school experience to this year’s Crusader squad. Freshman Ricky Berry also has had solid high school wrestling experience, and is very gifted athletically.
In regards to the 2013-14 schedule, Coach Peterson states, “The schedule will definitely be tough, as always. We will participate in two early season tournaments this year due to the larger number of non-football wrestlers.” The Crusaders will participate in a total of thirteen events this year, with only one match being held in Watertown. “The cool thing about our schedule is that there will always be at least one match-up in every tournament where one guy will face an opponent that is beatable. Along with that, however, they will also get to go up against or witness some of the best wrestlers in the nation. Our region is full of teams that consistently send guys to compete in the NCAA DIII national tournament. These experiences can help increase the learning curve for each one of our Crusader wrestlers,” says Peterson.
In the end, the goal of this year’s wrestling team will always come back to the process. “For the long term, we want each wrestler to have the experience of training at a super high level in an environment that is guided by Biblical principles,” remarks Coach Peterson. “By establishing a God-honoring mindset and attitude in each and every practice or competition, we are instilling principles that they can reproduce wherever they end up in the future.” The coaching staff is hoping to instill a discipline of good preparation that can continue to push the program forward. “The history of this program is really incredible if you stop and think about it,” states Peterson. “We’ve got more Olympians and world champions in our history than some DI programs. We as a staff want to expose that history and show the guys on this year’s team how those men honored God and maintained an incredible testimony for Him in everything they did. If we can strengthen each player as a man and leader for Christ this year, then this season will be a success.”