The Lakeland wrestling team will be a riding a wave of momentum into Saturday’s Great Northern Conference meet. They are coming in off a dominant 49-30 victory over Mosinee last Thursday, and according to head coach Adam Bremer, that is just what the Thunderbirds needed.

“I’m very grateful for the fact that dual meet really kind of put us in good condition as far as confidence,” Bremer said. “We’re wrestling at the level we need to be at right now and then we’re just going to have to figure out how to push that through and be prepared to wrestle four to five matches to reach our goals.”

The GNC meet is a round-robin tournament, therefore one match cannot make a break a wrestler’s day.  Therefore, Bremer promotes his wrestlers to look at each match as a series of challenges rather than a single win or loss. 

“I try really hard to keep them away from thinking about wins and losses because that can be a distraction, Bremer said. “Our focus will be on not wins and losses, but in the match, ‘did I get the first take down? Did I get more take downs than my opponent? When I was down did I get out in 35 to 40 seconds? Against a kid we faced, who maybe we weren’t as skilled as, do I do something better this time around than I did the last time around against them? Is there some improvement that I’ve made?’ Those are things that are important and those things cumulatively then end up with the success that we’re looking for.”

So far this season, Lakeland has found a good amount of conference success to build upon. Five Thunderbirds will enter the conference meet with winning records and great chances to reach the conference podium.

Sawyer Duir, who wrestles at both 106 and 113, is 4-1. Harry Nemcek, who wrestles at both 113 and 120, is 3-2. Jason Hilgart (145) is 4-1. Xavier Burgess (170) is 4-0, and Henry Evenhouse (195) is 3-2. 

Burgess is looking to repeat as conference champion at 170 and has looked unstoppable all season. It’s doubtful anyone will get in his way.

The T-Birds also bring a couple .500 records into the conference meet.

Tim Burnett, at 126, and Nazar Lenz, are both 2-2, but have wrestled way above their record. Both will be contenders for podium appearances. 

Also competing for the Thunderbirds will be Tyson Coy, who is 1-2 at 138 pounds, Tanner Wildes, who is 0-4 at 152, Hunter Kanzelberger, who 0-4 at 160, Andre Starynski who is 2-3 at 182, and Ian Valliere, who is 0-5 at 220.

Lakeland as team finished fifth in the dual season at 1-4, ahead of only Mosinee ,which was 0-5. Antigo, Medford, and Tomahawk all tied at 4-1 at the top of the conference, and Rhinelander finished second at 2-3. 

Lakeland wrestled Rhinelander close, losing 45-36, but they got roughed up by the conference leaders. The Thunderbirds lost to Tomahawk 55-13, Antigo 57-19, and Medford 51-21.

The loss in Medford a couple weeks ago, though, could prove to be of some use to the T-Birds according to Bremer.

“We’ve been in that gym. We know what that gym feels like,” Bremer said. “How are we going to approach it so that when we walk back into that atmosphere we can bring a different mentality to it?”

The Thunderbirds will find out the answer to that on Saturday. The meet begins at 10 a.m. at Raider Hall in Medford.

Jacob Friede may be reached at jacob@lakelandtimes.com or sports@lakelandtimes.com.