Feature: Senior All-American does everything for Panther Wrestling Club

By Dustin Gabler / Senior Staff Writer

Between working to keep his teammates’ weights in check, helping with coaching, setting up practice schedules, planning tournament trips and all of the other odds and ends of building a developing wrestling squad, Scott Schretzenmaier had little time left to work on his own wrestling. 

“Scott did a huge amount of work,” teammate Dan Albamonte said. “Despite everything else that we did, and I know Scott was super busy all the time, he was at every practice, planned every tournament and was on top of all of the paperwork.”

Amid it all, the senior still managed to become the Panther Wrestling Club’s second-ever All-American after placing sixth at nationals last month. 

And now, thanks in large part to Schretzenmaier’s efforts, the club appears poised to continue its rapid growth.

 When he joined as a sophomore, the club consisted of five wrestlers. Two years later, it had 13 wrestlers competing at the Mid-East Conference tournament and qualified six other wrestlers for the national tournament.

The growth of the team really took off this year as the officers, led by club President Schretzenmaier, set out before the season with a plan to field a full 10-person lineup, according to sophomore Philip Tanenbaum.

“We knew that we wanted to compete this year and would need a full lineup to do so, so recruiting and retention was our biggest priority right out of the gate,” Tanenbaum said.

The officers attended the Student Activities Fair in August to try to recruiting new wrestlers. After the team was formed, they set up mixers with other club sports teams and came up with other off-the-mat options to help the team develop camaraderie.

However, the club faced an obstacle that threatened to undermine all the progress.

Unfortunately for the club, it had exhausted all of its funds, and with the tournament taking place in Texas, attending would be expensive for any interested wrestlers.

“It was frustrating,” sophomore club member Matt Bruskin said. “We prepared all year for a chance to attend nationals, only to be unable to attend after qualifying.”

The club used the majority of its $5,000 allotment from Student Government Board to attend the minimum number of tournaments to qualify for the conference tournament and, thus, a shot at the national tournament.

“A pretty consistent thing for the top 10 teams this year was that they had almost double the number of matches we did,” Tanenbaum said. “We were able to do a lot with a little, and I think with more funding, we could crack that top-10 status.”

Schretzenmaier, who was able to afford the trip to Texas after receiving help from his family, explained the severe financial disadvantage that his club faces in talking to competitors in Texas.

“A lot of clubs are the only wrestling programs at their schools, so they get more funding,” he said. “Plus, they have longer histories, so they have more alumni to look to for donations.”

With the less-than-ideal monetary situation figured out, Schretzenmaier could focus on wrestling. He finished in sixth place to earn himself All-American status. The top eight wrestlers become All-Americans.

He hopes that his accomplishment will motivate his teammates and also help them attend next year’s tournament.

Despite the concentrated effort to field a full lineup at the beginning of the school year, it was impossible for Schretzenmaier to truly understand how the club would take off.

“I really had no idea that six other guys would qualify,” Schretzenmaier said. “I didn’t get the team in the mindset that, not only were we training to do well at conferences, but we were training for nationals.”

At the beginning of the season, the club was doing little to show anyone that it would eventually qualify seven wrestlers for the national tournament.

Schretzenmaier and Tanenbaum, who function as player-coaches and assist with the team’s four weekly practices, made a change early in the season to try to get the club wrestling at its best form.

“At the start of the year, we focused a lot on technique and teaching new moves,” Tanenbaum said. “After not doing so well after our first few tournaments, we changed the focus of practice to intense conditioning.”

It paid off, as along with Schretzenmaier and Tanenbaum, Bryan Muchoney, John Hoover, Albamonte, Bruskin and John Lemon also turned in performances worthy of national tournament invites from the Mid-East Conference. 

“I’ve said from the beginning of the year that I’ve accomplished everything I wanted from the sport a long time ago, so everything I do is for the team, not for me,” Schretzenmaier said. “It makes me happy to get the team some recognition on the national level, and hopefully it’ll make the path easier for my fellow teammates in the future.”

While Schretzenmaier’s on-the-mat performance gave the club instant recognition, it’s what he did off the mat that will leave the most lasting impact on the club.

 “Scott is the glue holding this group together. He came in this year determined to make a team of less than 10 people into a full lineup that would compete at tournaments,” Tanenbaum said.  

Perhaps that’s why he feels more of a sense of achievement from what his team has achieved, as opposed to his personal success.

“I really hope that my accomplishments challenge my guys to not only want to go to nationals in the future, but to do even better than me,” Schretzenmaier said. “I’m very excited to see what my fellow teammates and officers can accomplish in the [future].”

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