Pine River wrestling coach praises his team's resiliency despite tragedy
LEROY -- Pine River wrestling coach Tim Jones has been with the Bucks for 21 seasons and has been involved with the sport for even longer, but this season was unlike any he had been a part of before.
Going into the season, Jones said his team began the season with many question marks, and even more were fatefully thrown into the mix, as the PR community lost senior Tim Rizor in a fatal automobile accident during the preseason.
"This was the most emotional season in my 33 years of coaching," Jones said. "Our kids were dealt with every problem life could throw at them. It was really surreal. I can't say I have had a more emotionally stable group throughout an entire season like this group."
In the end, the Bucks turned in a 26-5 overall record and went a perfect 8-0 in Highland-Conference play. Jones said his squad "surpassed expectations by a ton."
Throughout the season, Pine River continued to rack up the team wins while also grabbing many individual victories to take firm control of the Highland Conference.
"Week in and week out, they kept improving and their focus seldom wavered," Jones said. "The kids responded at every turn."
At 171 pounds, Brock Nelson took home the state championship, while Austin Wuesten finished in seventh place in the same weight group.
At 130 pounds, Jordan Keotje also took the seventh spot.
Going forward, Jones said he expects it to be difficult replacing the seniors that were on this year's edition of the team.
"Our senior athletes leaving will be hard to fill, however after last year's response to adversity, anything is possible," Jones said. "Our sophomore class is the backbone of the program right now; a lot will be asked of them next year."