It’s been a season of milestones for the Weyauwega-Fremont wrestling team.
Coach Tim Potratz picked up his 300th career win.
Three wrestlers – Casey Haase, Dylan Hansen and Jared Gruetzmacher – notched their 100th victory.
The Indians used a strong showing at the Central Wisconsin Conference Meet to share the overall conference championship with Bonduel.
Haase and Hansen advanced to their first State Individual Wrestling Meet in Madison.
Haase put the icing on the cake, however, as the senior won the Division 3 189-pound championship Saturday, Feb. 26, by pinning Stratford’s Luke Radke in 3:54.
With the win, Haase became the third W-F wrestler in school history to win a state championship. Brian Loehrke and Corey Baehnman won a championship in 1999 and 1995, respectively.
Hansen didn’t fare as well, as he lost his 119-pound preliminary round match 8-6 to Flambeau’s Peyton Shedd.
Haase dominated his weight class at the tournament. After having a bye in the first round, he pinned Laconia’s Cody Moon in 1:27 before getting a hard-fought 9-6 win over Royall’s Christian Moore in the semifinals.
Haase took a 4-0 lead into the second period and had a 7-0 lead when he shot a single leg takedown, switched to a double, lifted Radke in the air and brought him down straight to his back for the pin.
Haase finished his senior season with a 42-6 record that included 30 pins and 55 takedowns.
“Casey wrestled a great tournament and never let the pressure of wrestling at state get to him,” Potratz said. “He did what he does best on the mat and nobody could match him. Casey has had a wonderful wrestling career with many great moments, but none better than winning a state championship.”
“I think I want it more this year,” Haase said. “I want it more than everyone else. I came down here with a bye in the first round and said I’m going to win it. It feels good to know that I went out with a bang in my last match.”
“Casey is a super-talented athlete,” Potratz said. “He’s broken school records in track and football. He’s been so close (in wrestling) two years in a row. This year, he wouldn’t be denied. A lot of times, he would take it a little easy and get caught. This year, he was not going to relax. He almost pinned his way through the sectional. He has a good a chance of anybody to win down here.”
Hansen nearly tied his match with a late takedown at the buzzer and finished his season with a 34-11 mark.
“Dylan did a great job of competing in his match and almost pulled it out at the end,” Potratz said. “He should be very proud of his accomplishments as a high school wrestler and athlete.”
Hansen also finished the season with 16 pins and 56 takedowns.
“Dylan’s a real success story,” Potratz said. “It did not come easy for him and he was not a natural when he was young. He lost a lot and had a losing record as a freshman. He loves the sport, he’s a gamer and he’ll wrestle anybody anywhere, anytime. That fearlessness and willingness to compete paid off. He just kept getting better and better. He was not even the favorite coming out of the sectional, but he outwrestled a couple of guys to get here.”
“I thought I had a good season, but there were a couple of matches I probably should have won,” Hansen said. “I hit my stride at the regional and sectional. It’s definitely a nice way to cap off the season. It’s huge. I’ve definitely been dreaming about it.”
The senior leadership of Haase and Hansen helped make the team successful, according to Potratz.
“That’s really been the story of the season as a team and individuals,” he said. “Those two are great friends and they’ve been in the program since grade school. We were not a super-talented team. I think we had seven kids within three matches of .500 and five really strong kids. The seniors worked hard, held everybody together, never backed down from anybody and found a way to win.”
“At the beginning of the year, coach said we’d be lucky if we took fourth (in the CWC),” Haase said. “We told him he was wrong and we were winning it. We all came together. We filled out the weight classes with younger guys and came out swinging.”
“They told me that they were going to win the conference,” Potratz said. “I said, ‘Well, you’re not the favorite, go out and show me.’ They did.”
“Winning conference was huge,” Hansen said. “We were underestimated and we proved we’re champions.”
“We were picked to take fourth,” Potratz said. “Shiocton, Bonduel and Wittenberg-Birnamwood have really talented groups with multi-state qualifiers. A kid that came out for the first time this year went into the conference tournament with a 5-17 record pinned three guys and helped us win. It’s been that kind of season.
“It’s one of the most fun seasons we’ve had,” he added. “Coach (Rich) Tomaszewski and I really enjoy the group because they have a passion for the sport and they have a passion to compete.”