Needless to say, this was a season that many people never thought would happen, but it turned out to be a season not many people will soon forget for the families and friends of the Western Dubuque wrestling team.
The Bobcats are known for having a strong wrestling program and the over 70 members of this year’s squad made sure that tradition continued. As a team, Bobcats finished the year 11-7, officially ending the season in the Class 3A Regional final when they were beaten by Waverly-Shell Rock. That’s the same Waverly-Shell Rock squad who won the Class 3A team dual state championship just a few days later.
Western Dubuque might not have won a state title, but they did have five wrestlers who battled their way to the state tournament this year. Senior Sawyer Nauman (195) was the team’s top finisher at fourth.
Evan Surface (182), who wasn’t even a full-time starter on the team until this season, capped off his junior year with eighth.
The other qualifiers were seniors Dakota Lau (160) and Emerson Lux-Morales as well as Greyson Gardner (170), a junior.
Injuries played a role in the journey the wrestlers had to take this year as many wrestlers earned opportunities to compete for points for the team. It was rarely the same 14 wrestlers on the mat, which means that many gained valuable experience this year. At the end of the season, the Bobcats had two freshmen, four sophomores, three juniors and five seniors on their line-up card that they presented at the district tournament.
Those wrestlers were freshmen Maddox Bries (106) 17-17 and Caden Mulnix (113) 9-10. Alex Ludwig (120) 4-7, CJ Kammiller (126) 12-12, Nathan Casey (132) 16-13 and Nevin Pins (138) 21-15 were the sophomores. The juniors were Trayton Kurimski (152) 18-13, Gardner (170) 23-10 and Surface (182) 30-12. The seniors were Kyle Schirmer (145) 20-13, Lau (160) 17-11, Nauman (195) 39-7, Mitchell Ashline (220) 18-13 and Lux-Morales (285) 16-9.
“This was a season like one I have never encountered before. Sure, it was crazy because the pandemic had us on edge if we were going to even have a season, but once this group got together and started practicing it quickly became all about them,” said Paul Cleary, head coach. “This group of wrestlers was amazing. There are so many victories that these guys earned that will never be on the scoreboard. They pushed themselves, each other and me to be better. There is no way I will ever forget this season.”