Manawa junior Casey Johnson placed second in sectionals held at Shawano High School, Saturday, Feb. 16, qualifying him for his first trip to the WIAA State Tournament in Madison.
Johnson, one of four Wolves wrestlers to compete at sectionals, went 3-1 on the day. his only loss was at the hands of 40-0 Luke Nowak of Edgar.
Daryn Claussen, Dominic Schuelke and Jacob Frenche also competed at sectionals. None advanced to state, but the experience of being at sectionals was an honor. For Frenche, it was the last time he competed in a Wolves Singlet.
“We are proud that they competed at this level,” said Coach Dan Kundinger. “It will now be an expectation for them as individuals and as a team to advance to sectionals and build upon that experience.”
Quarterfinal action pitted Johnson against Danny Tomaszewski from Crivitz. Johnson caught a head throw for a quick five points. He chose down in the second period, escaped and took Tomaszewski down for a second time to lead 8-0. Tomaszewski reversed Johnson in the third, but Johnson escaped and took him down for a final time, picking up an 11-2 victory and advancing to the semi-finals.
A win in the semi-final round automatically qualifies a wrestler for state, and Johnson knew this was the better route to go. This match lined up a 38-5 senior from Reedsville, Andrew Kocourek, against Johnson, 32-4. The battle went scoreless for the first two periods, putting a trip to state on the line in the final two minutes for both wrestlers.
Kocourek chose down in the third period, only to have Johnson turn him in a cradle not once, but twice, giving Johnson a 6-0 lead. The Reedsville wrestler escaped, but Casey took him down in the waning seconds to win 8-1. This did not end the day for Johnson, but it qualified him for state.
Assistant Coach and brother of Casey, Brad Johnson, recalled the emotions as time ran out after the second cradle, “Coach Hahn and I were nuts in the corner. We knew the kid wasn’t going to score enough to win after the first cradle, but the second cradle Casey hit well to put the match out of reach. I am proud of him as he makes his first trip to Madison.”
After losing to number one ranked Luke Nowak in the finals 12-0, Casey had a wrestle back with a familiar foe from one week ago, Henry Fielding of Shiocton.
“It is always important to go into state as the higher place winner. Casey knew he would have to beat Fielding for the second time in two weeks in order to go in as the second place winner,” said Head Coach Scott Hahn.
Manawa’s 182 lbs. wrestler once again found himself in a 0-0 match after two periods, and just like the semi-final round, used a cradle in the third period to secure a victory. Johnson won the match 3-0, to advance to the WIAA State Tournament as a second place winner.
Johnson (34-5) matches up in round one action at the Kohl Center in Madison against Dustin Diech, a 27-17 junior from Laconia. Round one action will take place, Thursday, Feb. 21, starting at 7:15 p.m.