With 14 weight classes on a high school wrestling team, when there's a hole at a given weight, it puts the team at a disadvantage. Every forfeit costs six points, and every dual meet becomes an uphill battle, while other wrestlers need to be strong to make up the difference. Fortunately for River Ridge wrestling coach Mitch Geier, he's able to overcome this disadvantage, thanks to four solid wrestlers.
Despite holes at the weight classes 182 and 195, the Royal Knights have been competitive in every tournament this year, thanks to Cody Arends (113), Kyle Arends (132), Max Reynolds (160), and 285-pound heavyweight Hayden Krautner. The Royal Knights have posted impressive results, including a second place at the Mustang Duals at Mitchell, sixth out of 25 teams at the East Lake Invitational and a top-10 finish at the prestigious Springstead Invite.
For River Ridge, it starts with Cody Arends, who finished last season on a strong note. He went 38-5 and qualified for the state tournament in Lakeland as a 106-pound junior. After losing to eventual state champion Donoven Hough of Armwood in the quarterfinals, Arends battled his way through wrestlebacks to face Springstead's Matt Landgraff in the fifth-place match and dominated 5-0.
Cody's brother, Kyle, is also pulling his weight.
"Kyle has battled some injuries early in the year, but he's fine now," Geier said. "Kyle has been working as hard as anybody in the room. He and his brother are drill partners, so they get to beat up on each other every day.''
Reynolds and Krautner are also impressing for River Ridge. After wrestling last season as a 15-year-old sophomore, Reynolds stepped up as a leader in the wrestling room, according to Geier.
"He has suffered some defeats, but they've been to some of the more experienced, stronger kids," Geier said. ''He lives for wrestling 24/7, so he expects big things out of himself, and he's a hard worker."
Krautner played football as a standout lineman. At 6-foot-4 and nearly 300 pounds, he's extremely athletic for his size. Geier was pleased when Krautner decided to give wrestling a try, and the results have been outstanding. Krautner was unseeded at the Springstead Invite two weeks ago and blew through the heavyweight bracket with three pins, setting himself up with Fivay's state-ranked Kelly Meus, who many believe will place at states. Krautner gave the undefeated Meus his toughest match of the season before losing 3-2.