Willis brothers return to the mats
By Tim Wester
Union Grove coach Andy Weis has plenty of enthusiasm for this season with 33 wrestlers in his program.
But, with four wrestlers gone from last year’s squad, his enthusiasm will be tested.
Sectional qualifier Keith Storm-Voltz and Barron Masi graduated, while state-qualifier Cael Kahle and sectional-qualifier Gianni Scacco did not return to the team after standout freshman seasons.
“Gianni decided that he wasn’t feeling it this year and decided not to return this year,” Weis said. “Cael transferred to Catholic Central to pursue the school’s year around Greco Roman wrestling club. So, we have big shoes to fill.”
Weis will utilize a solid group of seniors to pick up the slack. Senior Luke Peterson, who was stuck behind Cade and Cooper Willis the past two seasons, finally gets his chance at 106.
Other seniors expected to make an impact is Thomas Cook (126), Jon Sackman (152), Dylan Scacco (160), and Conner Esch at heavyweight.
While the senior corps looks to make an impact, the Willis brothers figure to lead the way this season.
Junior Cade Willis, a 2-time state qualifier, moves up to the 132-pound weight class this season.
Cooper Willis, who stormed through the competition to state at 106 as a freshman last season, moves up to 120 for his sophomore campaign.
“Cooper and Cade have started the season at a different level this year,” Weis said. They are wrestling with a lot of confidence. Because they are close in weight the two are having pretty good battles in practice that gets heated at times and we have to slow them down. But they are just two great competitors.”
Senior Dillon Pagels, who sat out last season, returns to the team at 170.
“Dillon is a nice addition at 170,” Weis said. “He told the team he would come back his senior year and wanted to keep that promise.”
Joining the experienced lineup are a pair of freshmen standouts Riley Storm-Voltz (138) and Travis Moore (145)
“Travis Moore is a Higher Level Club Wrestling kid and comes in with quite a bit of experience and has already shown promise,” Weis said. “Riley is the younger brother of Keith and also has plenty of potential.”
Other Broncos that figure to see action including Caleb Cozard (138), Gavin Hood (182), Trae Ford (195), and Jacob Geiss (220).
The Broncos figure to be stronger this season thanks to the guidance of new strength and conditioning coach Cody Clapper. Clapper’s impact was on full display in the fall with a bigger and stronger Bronco football team earning a postseason berth.
“Cody has been doing an excellent job with our wrestlers,” Weis said. “He has become a new part of the culture and knows his stuff. He is a former wrestler of mine, so he tells me that he’ll get the kids stronger and I’ll keep them fit.”
So where will the bigger, stronger, and experienced Broncos fall in the always-tough Southern Lakes Conference?
“Burlington is strong again and Waterford will be tough,” Weis said. “Then there is a second tier and I think we are in that second tier for sure. We are coming at it and firing away and nothing to lose.”