Wrestling prepares for WIAC championship


Courtesy of UWO Athletics / Beau Yineman pins his opponent in the Pat Flanagan Open Jan. 28.

Nolan Swenson, Sports Co-Editor

UW Oshkosh wrestling is preparing to close out its season after success at the recent Pat Flanagan Open, with six wrestlers on the podium.

Wrestlers Luc Valdez and Beau Yineman both took second at the tournament and Denis Murphy took 4th, with Murphy defeating a nationally ranked wrestler in the process.

With the last tournament of the regular season over, the Titans look forward to the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Championship. It’s a championship that Coach Aaron Konitzer feels confident in as the team’s vigor has increased in the last month.

“The effort ever since the Cornell invite has been really high,” Konitzer said. “Tournament team wise, we’ve had a lot of placers, last weekend we had six placers. I’m excited for the conference tournament for the tournament style, going multiple matches in a day. The guys have responded well and we’re seeing the fruits of our labor.”

Valdez believes that victory will be made off the championship mat and is reliant on his own initiative.

“The 125 class is all even,” he said. “It’s about whoever shows up that day ready for it. I can control my environment. Keep my food correct, practice well, and make sure I feel good for Saturday.”

Controlling the environment can only go so far without the mentality required for competing on the mat. Valdez has also taken steps to improve his neutral position. 

“Last year and the first part of this year I was defensive and on my heels all the time,” he said. “I’ve been making a conscious effort to stay offensive and put people on their heels instead of waiting for my opponent.”

Murphy knows the WIAC competition is going to be tough, going as far as to call his opponents ‘studs’, acknowledging the volatility of wrestling in this conference.

“It’s been tough,” he said. “I’ve had overtime matches this year that have gone my way or the other. There’s not one guy in particular I’m looking out for, just one match at a time.”

He attributes his losses to a mentality that he has improved and is ready to show at the conference.

“My biggest thing is setting a pace that lasts seven minutes,” he said. “If I look back on some of the WIAC losses I’ve had, it comes down to the last minute or so. Conditioning helps, but at the end of the day it’s a mental thing. I’m a senior and this is my last shot at it.”

Konitzer thinks that the team’s mentality is the sharpest it’s been and that it’s ready for the championship, then regionals.

“Guys are buying in not just to what we’re doing but how we do it,” he said. “In these last two weeks, guys have responded really well. We’re starting to believe in ourselves. With a high effort, results are going to go our way. I’m excited for this conference tournament and then post-season.”

UWO wrestling takes on the WIAC Championship on Saturday at 9 a.m. and will be available to stream on the WIAC network.