HARRIS - The Bark River-Harris wrestling team began their season Saturday as they traveled to Wabeno, Wis. for the Rebel Invitational tournament meet with three returning classmen and five new additions.
"They're a young group," said coach Mike Labadie. "They've got a lot to learn, much as our team did last year. But I think they'll do pretty good. They're catching on to the moves, and everything we're showing them."
The new wrestlers include three freshmen; Morgan VanLanen (145), Dylan Debelak, (138), and Nick Dwyer (170). Kent Dubbord (195), a sophomore, and Eli Oswald (195), a junior, round out the weight classes that the Broncos will be featuring this season.
Returning to the team is sophomore Curtis Labadie (204), who went all the way down to regionals as a freshman last season after taking fourth place in the individual districts. He is joined by fellow sophomore Kyle Dowd (215) and senior Kyle Mathias (160), who barely missed a trip to regionals by a matter of three or four points. Coach Labadie said he expects his three veteran wrestlers will hold this team together.
"My younger classmen are going to learn a lot by watching the three older ones," Labadie said. "Curtis and Mathias, they are going to hold their own. They're pretty good. Kyle Dowd is going to be an eye-opener for us this year. He's come a long way, and I'm anxious to see how he's going to do."
Although it is a little early in the game, Labadie said that he will know a lot more about his team after this weekend.
The remaining schedule:
Dec. 15 - at Tomahawk, Wis.
Jan. 5 - at Escanaba
Jan. 17 - at Westwood
Jan. 26 - at Manistique
* Schedule is incomplete; more tournaments to be scheduled
"I'll definitely know more on Saturday," he added. "It should be good. We are all anxious. These kids have worked really hard to get to this point, so we have been anticipating the first meet."
The Broncos sent five athletes to the meet and placed 16th out of 17 teams with 17 total points.
Curtis Labadie had the best showing, placing fourth at the heavyweight class. Labadie defeated Casey Christian of Kewaunee via pin in 1:25 before pinning Mitchell Schauer of Tomahawk by pin in 1:28 in the quarterfinals. Labadie fell to Zach Timblin of Crivitz by pin in 2:34 in the semifinal and also dropped the third place match to Athens' Tyson Zettler, falling by pin in 1:23.
Kyle Mathis was the only other Bronco to score points. Wresting at 160, Mathis fell in the first round to Wabeno/Laona's Jeremy Norris by pin in 2:49, but won his first consolation bracket match over Justin Kaster of Menominee by pin in 2:50.
Crandon, Wis. won the meet with 197 points. Second place Tomahawk, Wis. scored 183.
Bark River-Harris will resume Saturday at Tomahawk, Wis.