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It has the quality of a state wrestling tournament with one major difference.
Anybody can wrestle anybody.
When the 22nd annual Oshkosh Lourdes On The Water Wrestling Classic begins Thursday at Kolf Sports Center, the size of the 57 schools competing becomes irrelevant. Wrestlers from the largest of schools will face those from the smallest of schools, producing some very intriguing matchups.
“The kids look forward to it and as a coach you look forward to it because there are no divisions,” North coach Mike Meunier said. “You get kids you wouldn’t normally get to wrestle. It’s a showcase of quality wrestlers and potential matchups.”
For the five local teams involved — Oshkosh North, Oshkosh West, Oshkosh Lourdes, Winneconne and Ripon — the fact that such an event is held so close adds to the tournament’s uniqueness.
“We don’t have to take a long bus ride for great competition,” West coach Jared Esala said. “It’s special for us at Oshkosh West because it is in Oshkosh, in our backyard.”
Coleman, the top-ranked team in Division 3, is the defending champion and will once again highlight the field, but the Cougars should have some competition for this year’s title.
Leading the list will be tournament newcomer Hartford, which is ranked third in Division 1 by Crossface Magazine. Oshkosh West and Chippewa Falls are also ranked by either Crossface or Wisconsin Wrestling Online, while Marshall in Division 2 and Random Lake in Division 3 also bring ranked squads into the tournament.
In addition, each of the top 10 teams from last year — which includes both Oshkosh West and Winneconne — will be back to challenge Coleman.
Individually, there are four No. 1 ranked wrestlers expected to compete as well.
Izzy Balsiger of Chippewa Falls (120 pounds), Hunter Weber of Marshall (126), Nick Mudlaff of Random Lake (152) and Cody Moon of Laconia (195) highlight an impressive roster of competitors. All totaled, 38 wrestlers are ranked in the top five in their respective weight classes and divisions will be in action.
“I think in every single bracket there are one to five guys that I want to watch wrestle, other than Oshkosh West kids,” Esala said. “The competition is that good.”
The meet begins at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday and will continue throughout the day. Wrestling begins at 9 a.m. on Friday, with the championship walk-in and first, third and fifth place matches scheduled to start at 4 p.m.