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Wrestlers seeking toughness

Wildcat wrestling coach Kevin Black said the Cats wrestled much better at the Osceola Duals Saturday, Dec. 16, than they had the previous two weeks, but there is still plenty of room for improvement

The Wildcats went 4-1 on the day, defeating St. Croix Central 65-12, Cumberland 51-30, Boyceville 478-27 and Barron 60-18 while losing to Clear Lake 39-33.

The Cats avenged earlier season losses to Cumberland and Boyceville to finish second overall at the tournament, but the loss to Clear Lake stung. Each team won seven matches but the Warriors figured out how to muster a few extra team points out of their wins and save some points in their losses.

"Bottom line is they were much tougher than we were," Black said. "They weren't necessarily better wrestlers, but their kids were just tougher than ours. They scratched and clawed and fought for every team point and every position."

Black said it should disappoint a group of high school boys when their coaches point this out to them, but it didn't sting like it should have and he thinks it hasn't sunk in yet.

"Every kid can learn to be tougher—mentally, physically and emotionally," he said. "We can compete with more confidence, shake off the bumps and bruises and keep our composure and body language under control. We can do all of these things, but we're not and we have to."

Black said there is no doubt the Wildcats are getting better, but not at the rate he'd like to see, especially with the Northern Badger Classic up next at the high school Dec. 28-29.

"The way we've been training, our kids should walk into every building believing they're the toughest kids there," he said. "They need an inner arrogance that says there's not a single person on the planet who is their age and size who can hold them down. They also need that outward humility that knows they can continue doing more and more to get better each day. This is where we're at as a program and we've been kind of stuck in similar situations for the last few years, so we're going to keep pushing until there's a breakthrough. It feels like we're close at times and so far away other times, but no matter what, we haven't arrived. We need a good performance at the Northern Badger so we can keep building."

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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