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Wrestling Opens Season Saturday
By: Kevin Meinholz, Sports Information Director
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (UWECBlugolds.com) - The UW-Eau Claire wrestling team kicks off the 2009-10 season Saturday at the Lakeland College duals. Action will get underway at 10 a.m. and the Blugolds will compete in a total of five dual events throughout the day.
The Blugolds are led by first-year head coach Derek Sikora, a national champion and three-time All-American wrestler for the Blugolds. He competed for Eau Claire from 2002-06 and was named the program's sixth head coach a season ago following Don Parker's retirement after leading the Blugolds for 32 seasons.
This year's team consists of 12 returning letterwinners and seven newcomers. The roster has five seniors, two juniors, nine sophomores and three freshmen on it.
The Blugolds' top returner is Andy Johnston (Sr.-St. Cloud, Minn./Tech). A season ago he had the Blugolds' best finish at the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Championship as he took second place at 149 pounds while the Blugolds finished fifth as a team. He completed the year with a 27-9 record.
Two other returns finished fifth at the WIAC Championship last year. At 157 pounds, Jon Ames (Sr.-Genoa, Wis./Viroqua) recorded a fifth place finish while Joe Pitsch (So.-Oshkosh, Wis./North) also fifth at 285 pounds.
Along with Sikora, Russ Peloquin, Josh Holforty and Parker will help coach the team this season. Peloquin is a two-time All-American wrestler from UW-La Crosse that has served as an assistant for the Blugolds since 2004 while Holforty wrapped up his career with the Blugolds last season with a third place finish at the NCAA Division III Championship.