“The waiting is the hardest part” is a lyric from rock legend Tom Petty’s song “The Waiting.”
Wrestling fans from Milaca and Foley, and maybe also the wrestlers and coaches, can identify with that lyric. They’ve been waiting for over two months to watch the Wolves and Falcons tangle in their annual showdown. And, for them that wait can be agonizing.
Well, the wait is over. It’s Foley vs. Milaca Friday night, Feb. 1, at Milaca at 7:30.
Petty won’t be there but nearly two thousand wrestling fans will likely be in attendance. And, usually they’re as loud as, well, Petty fans at one of his concerts.
So, what should fans expect Friday?
Foley Coach Lyle Freudenberg will bring another powerhouse to Milaca.
The Falcons are 17-4 in duals and ranked No. 3 in Class AA by The Guillotine wrestling magazine.
And, for the first time this season, they’re healthy.
“We’ve really struggled with illness and injuries this season,” said Freudenberg. “We’ve been fortunate in that several inexperienced wrestlers have really stepped up to fill in and do a good job.
“It looks like we’ll have everyone healthy for the Milaca match.”
Freudenberg is actually co-head coach this season. Longtime assistant Scott Gorecki is the other head coach and Freudenberg plans to retire after the 2013-2014 season, with Gorecki then taking over.
“That’s the plan but it’s still a ways off,” said Freudenberg. “Right now Scott and I and the team are concentrating on Milaca and the rest of the season.
“And, while Milaca has a young team, we know the Wolves are talented and we know we’ll have to wrestle well.”
Milaca co-head coaches Mitch Vedders and Clay Hoeck will be facing Foley for the first time as varsity coaches. Longtime coach Randy Zimmer retired last spring.
“It will be a little different not seeing Randy with his wrestlers,” said Freudenberg. “Mitch and Clay are good coaches and I know Randy will be there someplace.”
Vedders and Hoeck have memories of competing against Foley when they were wrestling for Zimmer.
“The feeling is pretty much the same as a wrestler and now a coach,” said Vedders. “There’s a lot of respect for Foley and a big helping of rivalry and competitiveness.
“It’s always a big match and highlight of the season and our kids are looking forward to the match.”
The Falcons are healthy. How about the Wolves?
“We were healthy Monday but each day seems to change a little bit,” said Vedders. “We feel we have our lineup in place where the wrestlers can succeed and do well the rest of the season.
“Of course, we’re young. But, we’re also improving.”
The Wolves recently slipped out of the top 12 in The Guillotine Class AA rankings for the first time in many years. And, while Milaca is 17-5, Foley appears to be a big favorite Friday.
So, what will the Wolves need to do to pull off an upset.
“The formula is pretty much the same as any match,” said Vedders. “It always boils down to pins….getting them and not giving them up.”
Milaca topped Albany 58-13 and Pine City-Hinckley-Finlayson 61-9 in a triangular at Milaca last Friday while Foley went 2-1 at the Forest Lake Invitational Saturday, topping Stillwater 45-16 and Ellsworth, Wis., 32-27 before losing to St. Michael-Albertville 44-12. Ellsworth is ranked No. 5 in Wisconsin while SM-A is No. 1 in Class AAA in Minnesota.
Milaca travels to the Blaine Invitational Saturday at 9 a.m.
Note: For tentative individual match-ups for the Milaca-Foley dual, see the Times website. Match summaries for last Friday’s triangular are on page 9.
Milaca ninth-grader Dru Kuchenbaker won the title at 138 pounds at the Region 7AA Individual Tournament Saturday at Milaca while eighth-grader Reece Sandberg placed second at 132.