When his son Cale was old enough to get involved with athletic activities, Eric Anderson gave him some options.
The longtime Viroqua High School wrestling coach even sent his son to the dark side of his own sport and signed him up for basketball.
“It was more of a token signup,” Eric said with a laugh during Friday’s Bi-State Classic at the La Crosse Center.
“There was never a question,” added assistant coach Bill Hannah. “He was going to wrestle.”
Cale confirmed as much after pinning Spencer/Marshfield Columbus sophomore Ashton Ackman at the 35-second mark of his 106-pound quarterfinal match.
“I’ve been wrestling a long time and couldn’t wait to get (to the varsity roster),” the freshman said. “Especially with my dad as the coach.”
Cale spent his formative years following Christmas celebrations with drives to La Crosse to watch the kids his dad coached compete in the Bi-State. He watched closely, too.
“I started coming to this when I was 4 years old,” said Cale (22-0), who followed a first-round bye with three pins on Friday to qualify for Saturday morning’s semifinal against Luxemburg-Casco’s Lucas Joniaux (19-4). “I watched them warm up. I wanted to be part of it.”
Friday was his first chance, and he made the most of it.
The nerves, he said, went away with the first whistle of the first match. Then, an all-out focus consumed him. Cale never went to the second period and finished two of his matches in the first minute.
“He’s smooth,” teammate Tyler Hannah said before the pin of Ackman. “He’s good. He’s going to be really good.”
Cale continues a strong recent tradition of lightweight wrestlers at Viroqua. JJ McClelland recorded third- and second-place finishes at 106 in 2011 and 2012, while Jansen McClelland finished fourth at 106 last year.
Cale wants to continue that with a proud march to the medal stand on Saturday night.
“I’ve been wrestling with Jansen forever,” Cale said. “He was still a 106-pounder as a senior, so I could wrestle with him. There have been a lot of good wrestlers to watch.”
Senior Ryan Hannah (17-0) was a seventh-place finisher at 113 pounds as a freshman and is trying to win his first Bi-State championship after placing seventh as a freshman, eighth as a sophomore and sixth as a junior.
Cale has watched Hannah wrestle a lot, too, and had some trouble not being in awe of his teammate after he won a WIAA state championship two years ago. Hannah is in the semifinals at 145 after scoring his second straight major decision in the quarterfinals.
“You see them win a state championship, and then you see them in the practice room like they are just regular guys,” Cale said. “I want to do that, too.”
SCHULTZ SPARKS VIKINGS: Holmen entered Bi-State with the clear goal of outscoring every other team in the field. The Vikings have won Division 1 before, but they want the overall championship this time.
Senior Tanner Schultz (23-2) gave Holmen some important points by beating West Salem/Bangor’s Aaron Bahr (15-2) in an 8-0 138-pound quarterfinal. It was a battle between two of the top wrestlers in the Coulee Region, and Schultz was aggressive to get the outcome he wanted.
“I had to take away his legs, and I don’t know if he was ready for the way I defended it,” said Schultz, who won a Bi-State championship as a freshman, then placed third the last two seasons. “It was big when I got the escape in the second period.”
Schultz scored the first takedown, then followed that second-period escape with another takedown to widen his lead and secure a big victory for his team.
Holmen finished the first day with a score of 187, which leads Marshfield (155) in Division 1 and trails Division 3 Stratford (199½) in the overall standings.
“It’s about winning as a team and everyone doing his part to make that happen,” said Schultz, who will be joined in the semifinal round by teammates Kalyn Jahn (16-3, 170 pounds) and Isaac Lahr (19-3, 182). “That’s what we’re here for.”