Doug Leclair spent the summer and fall months preparing for a new experience as a wrestling coach.
The basics, of course, would be the same for someone with such a long association with the program at Logan High School.
But adding a new group of wrestlers from another school when Central’s program collapsed led to many questions he’d have to answer well before the current season got started.
One issue that was going to be impacted was the city duals event that began in 2012.
The seventh installment of that event will take place tonight with three teams instead of four after Logan and Central combined.
“We looked at it and thought when this all happened about adding West Salem(/Bangor) to stay at four teams, and that didn’t work out,” Leclair said. “So we’ll go with three, and I still think it will be a good thing for the teams involved.”
Logan/Central, Aquinas and Onalaska/Luther will wrestle each other in a series of duals that begins at 5 p.m. at Logan. Onalaska/Luther vs. Aquinas starts the event, and Aquinas vs. Logan/Central closes it.
The timing is good for Leclair’s team, which won a championship at the Osseo-Fairchild duals on Saturday. Logan/Central won five matches that day and hope to continue that momentum into a rare event in its home gymnasium.
In fact, tonight provides wrestling fans with a couple of good options. Holmen and Melrose-Mindoro/G-E-T will also meet in a dual at UW-La Crosse and compete simultaneously on a mat next to a WIAC dual between the Eagles and UW-Platteville.
That event begins at 6:30 p.m. at Mitchell Hall.
Leclair said he has 34 wrestlers on his roster and that 29 of them are from Logan. That means the projected involvement from Central is about what was expected when the co-op was announced.
“The city duals are still an option for us to have two matches in one night, hopefully in front of a little bigger crowd than they are used to seeing, and it’s something we want to continue,” Leclair said.
With four teams involved the first six times, each team wrestled three dual meets. Tonight, they cut to two and share the stage with wrestlers from youth programs in La Crosse and West Salem.
“It’s something to do to promote the sport, which has to be a priority,” Leclair said. “We had our Boys and Girls Club with about 50 kids, and we tried to find a program of similar size to match up with. We are hoping to get a match for around 40 kids.”
The night also promises to be uplifting for wrestlers at the programs that are involved. None of the three teams have won an MVC dual this season, and it provides them with legitimate chances to win — and grow — against familiar opponents.
There has already been considerable growth for the programs at Holmen and Melrose-Mindoro/G-E-T.
The Vikings are ranked first in Division 1 by Wisconsin Wrestling Online, and the Titans are ranked eighth in Division 2. Both fared well at the Bi-State Classic with Holmen outscoring the other 60 teams and winning Division 1 and Melrose-Mindoro/G-E-T placing seventh in Division 2.
Titans co-coach Pete Peterson talked about the difficulties of matching up with the Vikings before Bi-State and knows that it will take a very good performance to knock them off.
“They are so good at every weight that you can’t really move around to try and get a favorable matchup,” he said. “You just have to go with what you have.”
The Titans, like the Vikings, have a lot.
Some matches that could happen unless coaches move wrestlers around the lineup are: Holmen’s Kody Klonecki (20-10) vs. Colton Sime (17-7) at 113; Holmen’s Rylee Rensberry (22-9) vs. Jack Marley (22-5) at 120; Holmen’s Logan West (18-6) vs. Julian Purney (21-4) at 126; Holmen’s Isaac Lahr (27-3) vs. Landon Lockington (17-8) at 182; and Holmen’s Kyle Burkhardt (23-7) vs. Bryce Burns (15-4) at 195.