In a span of three days the Wolves wrestling team battled Amherst in a dual and then headed to the Badger State Invitational for a tough tournament.
After three days they proved their worth and showed they belong.
The Wolves headed to Madison on Saturday, Dec. 21 for the touted 20 team individual tournament. After two rounds the Wolves had climbed up to 10th place but ended up finishing 14th.
At 126 pounds Remington Reeck faced a tough Waseca, Minn. wrestler. In the second round Remington faced an opponent of similar stature from Iowa Grant. The match saw five lead changes and was full of great positioning and moves by Remington. In the closing seconds of the match Reeck found himself ahead but got out of position which eventually ended his day.
“Remington works his tail off so it’s hard to watch him suffer a blow like that. He wrestled so hard and tough and I couldn’t be prouder. He just needs to hold his head high and continue working,” stated Head Coach Brad Johnson. “Everyone else better watch out. When he gets ‘it,’ this kid is going to be unforgiving.”
In 132 pound class Manawa’s Dominic Schuelke saw his first action of the season. Schuelke started his day against an Iowa Grant opponent and disposed of him quickly to move on to round two action.
In round two Schuelke faced a tough Campbellsport wrestler. Schuelke was down 2-0 going into the third period. He won a long scramble and gained a crucial take down to tie the match up.
Soon after, he caught his opponent in his newly found move, the cradle. He just had to lock it up to secure the victory. He did more than that, as he stuck his opponent with one second on the clock.
In semi-final action Schuelke faced a strong Luxemburg wrestler who out wrestled him to an 8-1 win. He battled a Sparta opponent in the third place match. Again, Schuelke was out dueled but finished the day at 2-2 and in fourth place.
“Dominic really brought it today. We weren’t sure what we would get from him being his first action of the season but he did great and ran into two studs to end the day,” said Coach Shae Coyle.
In the 138 pound bout Daryn Claussen faced a day of ups and downs. Claussen wrestled five matches. He won his first match of the day in dominating fashion 10-3. In the second round he faced a very good opponent from Luxemburg and was unable to work his stuff verse a kid of this caliber.
Claussen’s third round match was his shining moment. He found himself down 4-0 in the third period and soon realized he could shoot his double and take his opponent down with ease. He took his opponent down three times in the third period to tie it up at the end of regulation. In overtime Claussen set his shot up one more time and sealed the deal with his fourth double leg takedown.
Claussen’s fourth match was to see if he would battle for fifth or seventh. He ran into a tough wrestler from Waukesha South and ended up falling 13-0. In his seventh place battle he faced an extremely tough Wisconsin Lutheran wrestler. Early in the third period his opponent was injured and was unable to return. Claussen finished in seventh place.
“Daryn wrestled hard all day and never gave up once. His overtime and final match really show his resilience and then his passion,” said Coach Dan Kundinger. “He didn’t even want the win unless he beat the kid fair and square. We’re extremely proud after that kid today.”
Justin Wentworth manned the 145 pound bout for the Wolves. Wentworth drew the number five seeded kid and wrestled tough but eventually found himself in an unforgiving hold. In round two he faced Alex Sagles and wrestled late into the second period of a very close match. Once again, Wentworth’s limited experience proved too costly and he was caught and pinned, forcing him to bow out of the tournament earlier than he would have liked.
“Justin’s still learning. You can see with every match he is learning something new and is improving. He just needs to continue working hard and the success will come,” Coyle said.
Zach Kreklow was the wrestler of choice for Manawa at 152 pounds. Zach is in his first year back and found himself against a highly touted Sycamore wrestler in the opening round. Kreklow fought hard late into the second period but the leg riding ability of his opponent left him unsure of what he could do to escape. A short time later Kreklow was pinned.
In his second round of wrestling he had one goal and that was to tackle his opponent as hard as he could right off the whistle. That is exactly what he did. His lead didn’t last long as once again his lack of ‘mat time’ left him out of position and being pinned.
“Zach brought it today, especially in that second match. He physically beat that kid up and I think he got back to having fun. He just needs to keep letting loose and success will follow,” Coach Johnson said.
At 160 pounds Manawa jogged out Ben Beyer. Beyer bumped from 145 last week to 160 this week to help the team and fill a weight. His day was short. His lack of experience and slim weight made him a mouthwatering target for the true 160 pound wrestlers. He fought hard for the Wolves but eventually was pinned in each bout ending his day.
“That’s what we have come to expect from Ben. Today was a perfect example of his mentality and willingness to do anything for the team. We are proud of his braveness and fight he showed today,” said Coach Johnson.
Andy Bristow filled the 170 pound class for the Wolves. Bristow is another first year wrestler making the Badger a very tough tournament for him to be successful at. None-the-less he battled hard in each of his two matches against some of the state’s best. He bowed out of the tournament after his second round action but walks away with more experience which will be pivotal to him later in the season.
“I think we are starting to get somewhere with Andy. We have found some things he does really well and is capable of making even really good wrestlers uncomfortable and that is a great thing that we will be sure to use,” Kundinger said.
In the 195 pound class Manawa sent out Jake Kaczorowski. He drew an eventual place winning wrestler from Wisconsin Lutheran. Kaczorowski wrestled hard but was eventually pinned.
In his second round action he faced a tough wrestler from Mineral Point. The winner of this match would be a place winner. At the end of the first period it was 0-0 and Kaczorowski was giving his opponents fits and physically abusing him. After the inexperience showed in the form of locked hands he was down 4-0 heading into the third period. He again gave his opponent all he could handle and was clearly upsetting his opponent. It wasn’t enough as Kaczorowski lost 9-0.
“Jake has improved every day from day one. He is one of the kids that you can guarantee he is going to work hard non-stop. Today his opponents were better than him based on experience alone. The more mat time this kid gets the better he is going to be,” Coyle said.
In the 220 pound class Manawa found its highest place winner of the day, Casey Johnson. In his first round match Johnson worked a variety of offensive moves and eventually pinned his opponent in the second period.
In round two Johnson battled a wrestler from Waseca, Minn. and earned a strong 8-0 decision, featuring smart controlled wrestling.
In round three Johnson battled with a wrestler from Mineral Point ranked in state right beside Johnson. In a match not highlighting many scrambles he fell1-0 and found himself wrestling for third instead of first.
Johnson wrestled a familiar foe from Edgar named Wes Dittman. Again, after the first period Johnson was tied 0-0. Choosing down Casey was able to secure a reversal and lock up his infamous cradle for a strong 5-0 lead going into the third period. In the third period Johnson again turned Dittman making the final score 8-0 and securing third place in the Badger.
“Casey actually wrestled pretty darn well today. We would like the Mineral Point match back so we can win this tournament but we will take him at state instead. Casey proved mortal today and we found some areas we can really clean up in the next two weeks. Casey isn’t satisfied which makes this easy to handle,” Coach Johnson said.
The final place winner for the Wolves came in a big version Wolf. The 6’5″ Cole Thompson earned a fourth place finish at the Badger this year.
Thompson received a bye in the first round. In the second round he faced a wrestler from Luxemburg. He worked his four favorite moves and was able to pin his opponent in the second period.
In the semi-finals Thompson faced the number two ranked wrestler in all of Division 1 at heavyweight. He gave the wrestler a tough battle but after falling down by six in the second period he was caught in a move that many heavyweights are unable to break away from and was pinned.
In Thompson’s third place match he wrestled extremely tough but the day took its toll and he found himself on the losing end of a 5-2 decision. He finished in fourth place.
“Cole can be proud of his accomplishments today but much like Casey we were looking for one more win. In Cole’s case I believe he can beat that kid. Cole is on the rise and needs to continue gaining like he has and then I think he will make a run at Madison this year,” Coach Johnson said.
The Wolves battled the Amherst Falcons on Thursday, Dec. 19 and left with a 39-24 win. Manawa received pins from Wentworth and Casey Johnson; an 8-2 win from Thompson; and forfeit wins from Kreklow, Timm, Reeck, and Claussen. Also picking up wins for the Wolves JV were Beyer and Hakeem Benmhamadi.
“We came to work tonight and it really showed. We were able to take something good away from every ones match. Even our new guys like Kaz, Kitowski, Dylan, and Bristow all showed us that they are learning and improving. It’s really invigorating for us to see,” Kundinger said.