The Redwood Valley wrestling team kicked off a new era of Cardinal wrestling over the weekend (Dec. 7) at the St. James invitational.

After being paired with Springfield the last few years under the title of the Redwood-River Valley Badgers, the schools have split, and Redwood Valley will officially once again be known as the Cardinals.  

Head Coach Paul Carlson will look to build on a solid 2018-19 campaign that saw the Badgers go 15-9 overall, losing to Fairmont/MCW 52-21 in the Section 3AA semifinals. The Red Bulls would go on to lose to Marshall in a classic Section 3AA final that saw the Tigers win 29-29 on the second criteria. Fairmont/MCW and Marshall open up the season ranked third and fourth respectively in the first Class AA team rankings.

Individually the Cardinals sent five wrestlers to state a season ago and will be without standouts Tayte Harazin (137-50 career mark) and Omar Arredondo (117 career wins), as well as Joe Anderson and the former Tiger wrestlers.

Still, the Cardinals will return a pair of stalwarts in seniors Kaleb Haase and Chad Maddock.

Haase has 88 career wins and went 35-5 a season ago at 220 pounds, finishing fifth at the Class AA state tournament for the second straight season. He fell 3-2 in the semifinal, coming within a point of reaching the state championship.

Haase is ranked fifth at 220 pounds to open the 2019-20 season but will open up the season at heavyweight.

Maddock will unfortunately miss most of the season (if not all) with a knee injury but could be back in time for Sections. Maddock has 77 career victories and a season ago went 30-8 and earned his second straight trip to the state meet (winning a pair of matches). He opened the season ranked third at heavyweight in Class AA.

Junior Carter Brandt is back after going 21-17 and earning a fourth-place finish a season ago at the Section 3AA meet. He joins a crowded group at that weight class that includes younger brother Gavin, Max Fuhr, Aidan Koplin and Zac Guggisberg.

Seniors Andy Fischer (170) and Adam Bommersbach (182) will be looked upon for leadership for a young group.

Fischer went 16-21 and finished fourth a season ago, and Bommersbach returns to the fold after not wrestling a season ago.

Juniors Brayden Reynolds (fifth at Sections at 160), Damico Arredondo (sixth at Sections at 126) and sophomore Maverick Goblirsch (160) return with experience. Arredondo will open at 120 and Reynolds at 152.

The Cardinals will have depth at 145 with Matt Zeug and Jaxon Lang, Henry Buffie should start at 138 and Lane Evans will open the season at 195.

Austin Ourada will open up the year at 126, Charlie Milhausen, and Jamen Hennen will compete at 132. At 113, Lincoln Ourada, Jordan Matson and Dante Otto will battle it out.

Harley Raney (152), Brode Lydick (160), Austin Altmann (170), Ashlyn Doering (182) and Griffin Evans (182) round out a nice nucleus.

According to Carlson, practices have gone well, but the early season will be a time to figure out and fine tune the Cardinals’ line-up.

“We are struggling with injuries from football. We won’t have a complete starting lineup until maybe the end of December,” he said. “Chad (Maddock) is also out until February. Overall though we will have a lot of wrestlers in our starting lineup that will have varsity experience.”

The Cardinals travel to Fairmont today (Dec. 10) for an early season showdown with the Red Bulls and will take part in the Chanhassen tournament Dec. 14.

The annual Redwood River Riot will take place Dec. 20 and 21 at the RVHS gymnasium (and RACC).