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October 15, 2009

2009-2010 Season - Juergens anxious to get wrestling season going

Eric Juergens is excited heading into the 2009-10 wrestling season. The third year Augustana head coach is anxious to get started with a team that he figures to be much deeper and stronger than either of his previous two Viking units.

“We can see in the preseason that we are making progress,” said Juegens who was 2-9 in his first year and 4-11 last year at the Augustana helm. “I think this group is physically better and I see a determination in them that is good to see.”

The Vikings placed fourth in the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin during Juegens’ first year as the head coach in 2007-08 and third in 2008-09.

“I can’t say enough about how important it is to have kids who have both the physical ability and the desire to get better,” said Juergens who was a two time NCAA Division I national champion at the University of Iowa. “We are going to have great competition in the wrestling room and that will only help us improve. We are going to be relying on some younger kids so it might take us a while to grow up.”

A total of 10 letterwinners dot the Augustana roster and that group will mix with an outstanding freshman class that has Juergens optimistic about the growth of the program. “We have been getting better each year and I think that we have the best group, collectively, since I have been here. This could be an exciting season for us.”

WEIGHT CLASS BREAKDOWN

125 – Senior George Gogonas (Bowie HS, Austin, Texas) will hold things down at 125 pounds. He was 13-10 a year ago and led the team in victories as a sophomore in 2007-08 when he went 28-13. He has compiled 59 career victories entering his senior year and twice he has been third in the CCIW at 125.

133 – Freshman Steve Poffenberger (Allegan HS, Paw Paw, Michigan) has been impressive in the early workouts and along with Gogonas he will give the Vikings a solid punch in the lower weight classes.

141 – There are plenty of bodies to choose from here as sophomores Alberto Quiros (Morton HS, Cicero, Ill.) and Andrew Krcatovich (Allegan HS, Allegan, Mich.) along with junior Alec Rizzo (Fremd HS, Palatine, Ill.) will all be contesting for mat time. Quiros was 9-17 as a freshman while Krcatovich posted a 4-10 mark. Rizzo was 1-4 in limited action. Another possibility at this weight class is senior Andrew Randone (Davenport Assumption HS, Davenport, Iowa), who was 8-4 last year but must first be awarded a medical hardship from the NCAA from earlier in his career. Randone was the runner-up in the CCIW at 133 pounds in 2009.

149 – Three freshmen will battle for the starting spot at 149. Tyler Dempsey (Grant HS, Ingleside, Ill.), James Passarelli (Carl Sandburg HS, Orland Park, Ill.) and Tyler Hernandez (Bloomington HS, Bloomington, Ill.) are all in the mix.

157 – Senior Zac Holland (West Des Moines Dowling HS, Pleasant Hill, Iowa) has been a four year regular at a variety of weight classes. He was 19-20 as a junior and placed third in the CCIW at 149 pounds last year. Behind Holland will be freshman Ian Knepshield (Shady Side Academy, Ford City, Pa.).

165 – Knepshield could bump up to 165 where he will join freshman Matt Burns (Naperville Central HS, Naperville, Ill.) and sophomore Matt McIntyre (West Carroll HS, Savanna, Ill.).

174 – A pair of freshmen, Alejandro Vavra (Gull Lake HS, Dowling, Mich.) and Konner Pemberton (Fremont HS, Fremont, Neb.) will tangle at 174 pounds.

184 – Junior Matt Nykaza (Brother Rice HS, Oak Lawn, Ill.) and freshman Hunter Feraco (Gull Lake HS, Battle Creek, Mich.) will handle the 184 pound weight class. Nykaza was 7-17 last year but placed second in the CCIW at 197 pounds. He saw action at 174, 184 and 197 as a sophomore.

197 – Senior Pat Kilroy (Lisle HS, Lisle, Ill.) and freshman Matt Regnier (Riverside-Brookfield HS, Riverside, Ill.) will share time at 197.

285 – Freshman George Papandreou (Waukegan HS, Waukegan, Ill.) will join the team after football season ends and he will be at 285 pounds.