By Michael Hicks
After a quick glance around the wrestling room at Berthoud High School, one will notice that somebody’s missing. That someone would be Nic Ludwig, last year’s state champion at 130 pounds.
Ludwig has graduated and moved on to the collegiate ranks at Mesa State. But don’t worry, the cupboards are hardly bare. Far from it.
A year after Berthoud qualified seven wrestlers for the 4A state tournament, the Spartans bring five of those wrestlers back, including state runner-up Brandyn Wahlert. In all, 11 of the Spartans’ projected starting 14 wrestlers are returnees. Two more saw action and one, freshman Tylor Bethel, cracks the lineup at 103 pounds this season.
“We have kids of the caliber of Nic in here. We can’t just pick someone out from the line and say we have a Nic Ludwig. But we have some who are capable of filling his spot,” Berthoud head coach Scott Pickert said. “We’ve got to introduce some new kids. We’ve got some good talent. Yeah, Nic will be a big loss for us as far as points to state, but we’ve got kids in the room who can make those points up.”
One of those is Wahlert, who as a junior took second at 125 pounds. This year, he moves up to 140 pounds and hopes to utilize that experience at state to get the one more win he needed last season to take home top honors instead of getting caught up in the moment.
“I think along the way I got too ahead of myself thinking I had to go a lot harder than I did,” Wahlert said. “I just need to relax and wrestle. I got a little starry-eyed.”
Other state qualifiers who return from last year’s fifth-place team include Graeden Sadlo, who moves up to 125 pounds after a fourth-place finish at 119, Robert Workman, a sixth-place finisher at 103 last year who will wrestle at 112, and heavyweight Jared Wikre.
The Spartans also graduated state qualifier Jake Schabinger at 152 pounds, but Alex Sadlo is back at 130, taking over Ludwig’s old spot. Alex Sadlo was a qualifier at 112 pounds. Football captain Nick Henderson also returns at 160 pounds, a year after just missing out on state.
With so many returning wrestlers, Pickert will be relying on their leadership to carry the Spartans through a tough 2008-09 schedule, which includes defending state champion Northridge, state runner-up Fort Morgan and seven tournament or duel meets.
“We need their leadership to help our young kids move along,” Pickert said. “Secondly, they need to set some personal goals for themselves and hopefully improve on those places from last year. Put in the work and effort and training regime to accomplish those goals. I expect every kid in here to have high individual goals, and along with that the team can set some goals also.”
One of those setting goals is Wikre. The interior lineman on the Spartans’ football team went 1-2 at state last year as a heavyweight. But a return to state isn’t his first goal in 2008-09.
“I’m going to try to shoot for first at regional and a chance at state,” Wikre said. “I’ll try to be one of the top kids in my weight class, and we’ll see how that turns out.”
If it’s anything like the success Ludwig had last year, it should be quite rewarding.
2008-09 PROJECTED STARTERS
WEIGHT NAME CLASS
103 Tylor Bethel Freshman
112 Robbie Workman Sophomore
119 Kevin Hodge Senior
Or Brad Nobel Freshman
125 Graeden Sadlo Senior
130 Alex Sadlo Sophomore
135 Curtis Martinez Senior
140 Brandyn Wahlert Senior
145 Marcus Lucero Junior
152 Trent McConky Senior
160 Nick Henderson Senior
171 Josh Atkinson Sophomore
189 J.T. Pickert Sophomore
215 Saul Anderson Senior
HWT Jared Wikre Senior
Head coach: Scott Pickert
DATE OPPONENT TIME
Dec. 3 at Northridge 7 p.m.
Dec. 6 at Windsor tournament 8 a.m.
Dec. 11 Sterling 7 p.m.
Dec. 13 at Pueblo East tourney 8:30 a.m.
Dec. 18 at Windsor 7 p.m.
Jan. 8 at Silver Creek 7 p.m.
Jan. 9-10 at Montrose tournament TBA
Jan. 15 Frederick 7 p.m.
Jan. 17 Soeby Spartan Classic 9 a.m.
Jan. 22 Roosevelt 7 p.m.
Jan. 24 at Valley tournament 8 a.m.
Jan. 29 at Fort Morgan 7 p.m.
Jan. 31 at Widefield Gladiator 8:30 a.m.
Feb. 7 at Eaton tournament 9 a.m.
Feb. 13-14 Regionals (Fossil Ridge) TBA
Feb. 19-21 State (Denver) TBA
<p>Despite losing state champ Nic Ludwig to graduation, the BHS wresting program features plenty of talent.</p>