The Wolves wrestling team traveled to Antigo, Saturday, Dec. 7, to take part in the annual John Roberts Duals.
Manawa began the day against number 4 seeded Waupaca and fought hard but found the forfeits at unfilled weights too costly. They lost to the Comets 51-21 to send them to Pool B action.
In second round action the Wolves faced off against a team of similar size and stature, Bayfield. The dual saw its fair share of lead changes and momentum. Manawa needed to win two of the final three matches to secure the victory.
With the dual on the line Manawa’s Casey Johnson won by fall over Brandon Basina and sealed the deal for the Wolves.
“The excitement on their faces after their first dual meet win of the new season was priceless,” said Coach Dan Kundinger. “They worked hard for that and it was well earned.”
The Wolves faced the home team, the Antigo Red Birds, in the third round. After starting the dual down 45-6 the Wolves fired off three wins in a row, but fell short at the end, losing by a final score of 51-24.
In round four the Wolves battled Ashland and saw another back and forth dual that wasn’t decided until the second to last match. The score was tied at 30-30 with only three weight classes left. Manawa was able to fill only two of the weight classes, so they needed to win both. Again, inexperience reared its head and the Wolves pulled out only one of those victories, losing the match 42-33.
For the final round of the day, the Wolves faced Marathon. The Wolves immediately pulled out to an 18-0 but soon the Red Raiders pulled back within six. Manawa won three of the final five matches to savor the dual victory 36-24, and finish the day with a 2-3 record as a team.
“We worked hard today and showed improvement each round. This was great to see as our kids continually picked each other up and rallied around each other for two huge wins,” said Coach Shae Coyle.
Individually, 14 Wolves wrestlers saw action between varsity and JV.
“This goes a long way in improving each member of our team. It is extremely important that these guys get the mat time they deserve,” said Head Coach Brad Johnson.
Ben Beyer and Hakeem Benhamadi racked up five and four JV matches respectively on the day. Beyer earned his first win ever as a wrestler and was able to finish the day with a 4-1 record. Benhamadi was not able to capture that first elusive win but battled hard each match, coming up just mere points short in his third match.
Damien Kitowski wrestled two JV matches and continued the trend he started the first match of the season. He was the aggressor in each match and physically pummeled his opponent but came up short in both battles.
Jake Kaczorowski had a unique experience throughout the day. He battled hard to a 1-2 record on JV and earned his first varsity win in the pivotal 220 pound weight class in Manawa’s match against Bayfield. Kaczorowski is working his way down to the 195 class and will be a huge cog to the Wolves down the stretch.
At 113 pounds Manawa’s Gage Griffin earned a 2-3 record during the day.
“Gage battled hard today and his perfect shot and finish in his final match was the icing on the cake for a productive day for him,” said Coyle.
The Wolves’ 126 pounder Dalton Timm worked hard throughout the day and left Antigo with an impressive 3-2 record.
“When he puts his mind to it Dalton is one of the quickest and strongest 126 pounders in our conference and that showed today,” said Kundinger.
At 132 pounds Manawa’s Austin Wagner was another wrestler on a rollercoaster ride. Wagner battled hard each and every match and received his first career win.
“He ended the day with a 1-4 record but the future is bright for Austin, he is a kid who just keeps working and learning,” said Coach Johnson.
The Wolves’ Daryn Claussen manned the 138 pound position all day. He fought all day and worked to a 4-1 record. His only loss of the day came in the first round against the Comets. It was a tight 6-2 decision.
“After that first round Daryn really wrestled well, I know he wants that first match back but he just has to shake it off and move on,” said Kundinger.
Manawa’s Justin Wentworth held his own at the 145 pound weight class, finishing with a 3-2 record. He was mere points away from going 5-0 at the tournament in only his second year wrestling.
“We have been happily surprised with Justin’s skills and growth already this year. If he keeps getting better the sky is the limit for him,” said Coach Johnson.
Zach Kreklow manned the 152 pound weight class for the Wolves at the tournament. At the end of the day he had a 2-3 record on varsity, capturing his first wins and a lone loss in an exhibition match for the Wolves.
“Zach showed persistence and will all day to keep battling and continually asking to see what he could do better,” said Kundinger.
Nick Swenson bumped to 160 all day for the Wolves to help fill weight classes. The weight he gave up proved to be too much in many of his matches as he was held to just one victory on the day. He battled late into each match.
“Nick was in a rough spot but proved to the team that he is committed to helping them out anyway possible,” said Coyle.
At 195 pounds the Wolves trotted out Senior Dylan Schneider-Blank, who in his first action of the year, showed spirit, attitude, and drive on his way to his first two career wins. He finished the day 2-3.
“Dylan brought it all today. As he cuts to 182 he continues to give up excessive pounds but that surely does not affect his attitude or goals while he is on the mat,” said Coach Johnson.
The Wolves found their first of two undefeated wrestlers for the day at the 220 pound weight class, when Casey Johnson went 5-0. Johnson showcased his superiority over the competition and earned three pins.
“Casey gave us what we needed and have come to expect from him,” said Coach Kundinger, “He has worked hard and continues to lead this great group of kids.”
Manawa’s other undefeated wrestler came at the Heavy Weight class. Cole Thompson showed great skill and strength all day and proved all doubters wrong. He manned the back end of the lineup, collecting three pins in four varsity wins and one JV victory.
“CT turned heads today and proved his worth at that crucial point in our line-up,” said Coyle. “He looked great today.”