The Patch High School wrestling team set out to defend its 2008 European title as it hosted the 2009 season-opening wrestling tournament Dec. 6.
The results were a resounding team victory (273.5 points) over Division I rivals Ramstein (216 points) and Wiesbaden (110 points).
“The team gained a lot of confidence with its overall win on Saturday,” said first-year head coach Norman Matzke. “It’s still very early in the season and we have five more wrestling tournaments to compete in, so we will stay focused and continue to improve.”
Although the team placed either first or second in 11 of the 14 categories, neither the players nor the coaches are becoming over-confident.
“Saturday’s results just proved how good the wrestling program at Patch is,” said Robert Davis, a team tri-captain who took first place in the 135-pound weight category. “We have some good wrestlers on this team and should do well this year, but our real strength is the coaching staff.”
The coaching staff‘s goal is not only to win the title again, but to improve the entire 40-member squad, one wrestler at a time.
“To even consider bringing home the trophy, we will have to score lots of points at Europeans, and to do that, we will need to qualify as many of our wrestlers in as many weight categories as possible, and to do that, we will develop the wrestlers’ techniques and knowledge by working on the principle moves and counter moves of the sport,” said Matzke.
To qualify for Europeans, a wrestler has to place either first or second in their respective weight category during the sectional qualifying tournament in Vilseck on Feb. 13. As good as Matzke’s team of coaches, including long-time volunteer coach, Mike Edinger are, the three student captains will be counted on to make a difference.
“We are the team motivators who set the example for everyone to follow,” Davis said.
With such examples as the three team captains as well as Calen Fields, Jason Pinnow, Marshall Haas and Mike Niccoll, who all took first place in the season opener, the Patch wrestling team seems to be in the driver’s seat to earning another Department of Defense Dependent Schools-Europe wrestling title.