Manawa wrestlers claimed third place as a team, only 12 points out of second place at the 8th annual Manawa Invitational.
Nine Manawa wrestlers received a medal, including two champions. Garret Griffin was awarded the Most Valuable Wrestler of the tournament, as voted on by the coaches.
“It was a good day. We had a great week of practice and the guys were ready to compete in our own tournament,” said Head Coach Scott Hahn. “They set their expectations high and didn’t disappoint. It was a total team effort. Every wrestler scored points today.”
Griffin had the highlighted match of the tournament. Griffin, ranked sixth in state, met up with Brandon Tousey of Oconto, ranked third in the state. Griffin and Tousey were the top two seeds at 152 lbs. in this tournament.
Tousey scored first, but Griffin battled back to escape. He chose down in period two, escaping again to tie the score at two. The biggest points of the match came with about 15 seconds left in period two.
“Garret had Tousey on his heels and was attacking to set up his takedowns,” said Hahn about the takedown. “Knowing Tousey would choose down, scoring here would be huge. Garret took him down and rode him out to go up 4-2 to the third period. Those points were big in this match.”
Tousey chose down, escaped, then the two wrestlers exchanged shots for the rest of the third period, but neither would score. Griffin won 4-3.
“I can’t say enough about how the confidence in Garret is starting to get in his technique, preparation, and approach to matches. He prepared all week for this match and went to work when he got his chance,” said Hahn.
Daryn Claussen (113 lbs.) had two wins on the day, including a pin over an Elcho wrestler in round one of the day, setting the tone for the team. The freshman dropped a 15-4 decision to his Wabeno opponent, placing him second in the weight class.
“Daryn wrestled well. He moved and wrestled six minutes when he needed to. He is becoming more confident in his abilities,” said Coach Dan Kundinger.
Freshman Camden Moser won his varsity medal in the 120 lbs. weight class. Moser finished second, but started the day with a fall over his Oconto opponent in the quarterfinals.
“Camden has improved over the year. He is a smart, coachable kid who soaks everything up at practice,” Hahn said. “It showed in the Oconto match, he put together a string of points then turned the guy in the third period for the pin and more team points. It was an awesome start for him.”
Senior Jacob Frenche (126 lbs.) finished fifth on the day. Frenche lost in round one to the eventual champion from Elcho, but picked up valuable team points by defeating his Lakeland opponent 8-5. He then picked up a pin in his fifth place match.
“Jacob started slow today but turned it on when he needed to. He will be fine down the stretch,” said coach Brad Johnson.
Brad Grimm (126 lbs.) wrestled for the first time in a few weeks, as he was coming off an injury. Grimm finished sixth on the day, awarded a win in the consolation round.
“It’s good to have Grimm back on the mat,” Kundinger said. “He was improving and needs more mat time.”
Dominic Schuelke, down to 132 lbs., went 2-1 on the day and finished in second place, earning his first varsity medal. Schuelke pinned an Oconto wrestler in 32 seconds in the semifinals, setting up a match with an opponent from Lakeland in the championship round. Schuelke lost 10-2.
“Dominic was deep on many shots and we just couldn’t quite finish. He is gaining confidence at this level of competition,” Johnson said.
Justin Wentworth also competed in the 132 lbs. weight class. Wentworth won two matches during the day, including a dramatic fifth place match of 8-4 over a Wabeno wrestler. Wentworth took him down three times, and hung on for the decision.
“Justin countered shots and scored off Mischo’s offense,” Hahn said. “This was a good win for him.”
Josiah Melton (138 lbs.) saw his first action of the season. Melton, coming off an injury which occurred before the season started, was cleared to compete for this tournament. Melton finished fifth, but the biggest win for him was being on the mat again.
“It was good to finally see him in a varsity Manawa singlet. He has been working hard to rehab and get back. We are glad to have him back,” said Kundinger.
Isaac Newton finished eighth in the tournament. Isaac got three matches in on the day and gained valuable mat time in the process.
“Isaac needs more mat time and he got three matches today. This will make him stronger in the future,” Kundinger said.
Senior Nick Johnson had his best day in a Wolves singlet. Johnson went 2-1 on the day, finishing in fifth place. Nick won both of his matches by fall.
“Nick picked up team points with those pins. Those were big wins for him and our team,” Brad Johnson said.
Branden Lindsay (170 lbs.) is gaining confidence every time he steps on the mat. The Manawa invite was no exception. Lindsay had a bye in round one, then pinned his Roncalli opponent in the semi-finals. He lost in the championship match, but finished in second place for the Wolves.
“Branden’s technique and confidence were impressive in the semi-finals. He knew what he needed to accomplish and went out and took care of business,” Kundinger said.
Cole Thompson (220 lbs.) finished third in the tournament. Thompson was in both matches before losing.
“This is not from a lack of effort. Cole is giving us everything we ask of him in the practice room. He will learn from these matches and move on,” said Johnson.
Joe Vande Vrede (182 lbs.) improved his record to 15-4 on the season. He received a bye the in round one, and then dominated his Oconto opponent in the semi-finals to set up a match with last year’s sectional qualifier Ed Gluth from Elcho. He took Gluth down in the first period, then a late escape made it 2-1. With Vande Vrede leading 4-3 late in the third period, Gluth hit a takedown in the waning seconds to win 5-4. Vande Vrede finished second in the tournament.
“This was a tough loss, we knew we had him and wrestled to win the whole match,” Hahn said. “We will learn from this and move forward. We’ll see him again at sectionals.”
Casey Johnson won his third tournament of the year and advanced his record to 19-2 on the season. The 195 lbs. wrestler won in round two 6-0, then made quick work of a Wabeno wrestler in the finals.
“Casey didn’t have a whole lot of competition today. He did what he needed to do and is looking forward to good matches coming up next weekend,” Kundinger said.
Johnson is ranked as an honorable mention wrestler in the state in Division 3.
The Wolves Wrestling team will dual against Almond/Pacelli/Bancroft Thursday, Jan. 10 in Almond. They will then compete in the Clintonville Trucker tournament on Saturday, Jan. 12.