The Alpena wrestling team will have its work cut out for it tonight.
The Wildcats host a Big North quad tonight that sees them and Petoskey matching up against Traverse City Central and Traverse City West.
The format of the quad will see Alpena wrestling against either Traverse City Central or West while Petoskey wrestles on another mat against the other team. Petoskey and Alpena will then switch opponents. Alpena will not wrestle Petoskey, having wrestled the Northmen earlier this year.
Alpena coach Jake Stenz expects his team to do very well in the quad.
"Traverse City Central is a team that is in the process of rebuilding. They had a new coach last year and only eight kids on the team. They have some of those kids back and a few new ones but they don't have a lot of experience. I think we have a lot more experience and we should be able to beat them," he said.
He especially expects a lot out of three of his upperclassmen.
"R.J. Centala has wrestled in three different weight classes this year and he's been doing great. He and J.D. Niergarth were regional qualifiers last year. Dakota Patterson is one of our best wrestlers with a solid record against some good competition. I expect these guys to get us some bonus points with some pins," he said.
Centala was the 145-pound champion at the Mio Invitational last Saturday.
Traverse City West is a team Stenz expects to be a tough team to top.
"I don't know as much about them but I know they have some pretty good kids on the team that should offer us a pretty good challenge," he said.
Although each match is one-on-one, each match has the potential to contribute points to the meet to help a team win. Stenz understands the importance of this aspect of the sport.
"Traditionally, we've been very strong in the middleweight and heavyweight divisions. This year we have some really strong lightweight wrestlers and they're so important. When they pick up wins and get points early in the match, it gets the other guys pumped up and excited," he said.
Lightweight wrestlers are also important because the Wildcats have often found themselves forfeiting points in those matches in the last few years.
"It's really a team effort and I expect everybody on the team to wrestle as hard as they can," Stenz said.