BY DEREK FYE
UW-Parkside’s wrestling team selected the motto “Pave Your Way.” If they hold to that, many of the team’s members will each hold national championships by the season’s end.
The team is currently ranked first in the Division II Wrestling Coaches Association poll for Super Region II, released on January 12, 2016. To understand why, one needs little more than to observe the team practice or to talk to their leaders.
PRAISED BY COACH & STAFF
The wrestling room brims with intensity and focus of the wrestlers and coaching staff as they wrestle or run laps. Head Coach Gregg Lewis said this is probably the best team he’s had in his five years as head coach and 21 years with the program. “It doesn’t matter who we’re wrestling,” Lewis said. “We’re going after it. Discipline is what it really comes down to.”
Lewis also credits the leadership of select wrestlers as being the difference in making this team great, and Lewis’ support staff agrees. Athletic trainer Tyler Martin is in his second season with the team.
“They’re such hard workers,” Martin said. “Their hard work and dedication can’t be beat … The time and dedication it takes, not many kids can do that.”
Martin said the sport’s difficulty — and its main attraction for him was its “pure athleticism. It’s you and your opponent, nothing else out there.”
The season began with 30 wrestlers; but Lewis said he believes that the 25 gritty remaining members have withstood the rigors of the sport, resulting in the current roster.
TEAM LEADERS LEAD DIVISION
Lewis identified three key figures on the team who lead the pack.
Nick Becker, a Redshirt Sophomore from Hartford, WI, currently ranked first in the 174lb class in the Division II Wrestling Coaches Association Super Region II Poll. His ultimate goal is to win a National championship — a goal he said he set for personal and team victory by coming in “every day with a purpose.”
Joseph Her, a Redshirt Senior from Two Rivers, WI, ranked fourth in the 133lb weight class with an 18-5 record. Her also aims to win a National championship.
Nick Fishback, a Redshirt Senior from Orland Park, IL, is ranked first in the 165lb weight class with a record of 19-2. Fishback’s biggest accomplishments are earning All- American honors and placing 5th in the National championship last year.
CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE
Her credits the coaches’ leadership and support for much of their success.
“Sometimes you love them, sometimes you hate them,” he said. “But they’re always there for you.”
Her said the team also succeeds largely due to their effort to “get better every day, 1% at a time.”
Her credits his team’s stunning record to short-term memory and “not just going through the motions” when it comes to practice.
Fishback pointed to common mindsets on the team.
“We all have the same goals,” he said. “You get out what you put in.”
As far as obstacles are concerned, Her said, injuries pose the biggest threat to the team.
The thing Fishback said he’ll miss most after the conclusion of this season will be the brotherhood and comradery of the team and the feeling of competition that is common in the sport.
Her agreed with him, saying that he will miss “being a family with the guys” when he leaves after graduation.
Fishback said he aspires to be a college wrestling coach.
“Coaches have been my biggest role models,” Fishback said. “I like giving back to the sport.”
Fishback describes the key to his success as “putting in the time and the work,” and his future goal as “trying to do something better next year.” Always striving to improve is a theme synonymous with this team.