The Manawa Wolves traveled to Shawano, Saturday, Feb. 22, with hopes of sending four wrestlers to state. When the action concluded, two wrestlers were heading to the state tournament in Madison.
Casey Johnson qualified for the State Wrestling Tournament Series in Madison and he did it in typical fashion.
In Johnson’s first round match he racked up a 13-1 lead before disposing of his opponent.
In the second round he had a highly touted showdown with Coleman’s C.J. Pillath who is ranked one place above Johnson. Johnson shot deep in on a high crotch and finished putting Pillath to his back but after a short scramble Johnson was caught out of position and was quickly down by four points. In the second period it was all Johnson, as he hit his infamous cradle and sealed the match with a pin in 3:03. This punched his ticket for Madison.
For icing on the cake he beat Menominee’s Keenan Richmond in the finals 7-3 after mounting an early seven point lead and coasting to the victory.
After securing the Sectional Championship Johnson has accumulated a 43-1 record going into the state tournament. He will not wrestle until Friday, Feb. 28, around 1 p.m. where he will face either Donovan Fornal from Glenwood City who sports a 33-9 record or Brandon Peters from Westfield Area who holds a 32-14 record. If he wins in the first round he will most likely face number one rated Chase Nottestad from Westby in the state semifinals.
“Not Casey’s best day wrestling but whenever you can win a sectional championship you have to be pretty proud. A win is a win this time of year and you will take them anyway you can get them. That being said we want there to be a sour taste in his mouth and make him hungry for the big show. To say he was a little off today and still made it out victorious is also a relief. A good week of preparation and I am sure he will be ready for anything his opponents have to throw at him. We are hoping that his past state experience allow him to be comfortable in the Kohl Center and guide him to his desired success,” said Coach Dan Kundinger.
Garret Griffin entered sectional action as a 160 pound regional champion. In his first round match he faced an opponent from Bonduel who he was 1-1 against on the season. Griffin man handled his opponent on his way to 10-6 victory. He recorded four takedowns and a reversal while giving up six escapes. This match was even a little bit more meaningful for Griffin as he recorded his 100th victory with the win.
In the second round Griffin faced Connor Handrich from Edgar. The match didn’t go the way Griffin hoped as he went from an awesome position early in the match into a very unforgiving position which left him battling in the backside of the bracket for that coveted state birth.
In the third round Griffin quickly disposed of Florence’s Anthony Killigis leaving him one match away from a state birth.
In the third place match he faced Athens’ Tucker Roesler. Griffin quickly built a 5-0 lead and cruised to his first state qualification in his career.
In first round action on Thursday night, Feb. 27 in Madison, Griffin will face Jay Kaenel from Westfield who sports a 36-8 record while Griffin sports a 24-6 record.
“Garret seized the opportunity today and put himself into the state tournament. He had an outstanding day today except for about ten seconds in that second match but he responded with back-to-back victories. He experienced extreme highs today with the revenge, the 100th win, and the state birth and we hope the highs just keep coming as he continues his journey in Madison. We are extremely proud of him,” said Head Coach Brad Johnson.
Dominic Schuelke represented the Wolves at the 132 pound weight class and was nudged out 7-6 in first round action verse Anthony Marten of Stratford. His opponent lost in the second round ending Schuelke’s season with an 18-11 record as a sophomore.
“We are really proud of the way Dominic battled in his lone match today. He had a tough week of practice and performed well given the competition of sectionals. I know he would have liked more from himself but we really want this to set in and make him hungry for next year already. He has a lot to learn and a lot of room for growth and I am sure with the proper offseason he will come in with reckless vengeance for anyone who gets in his way,” stated Coach Shae Coyle.
Cole Thompson was the other wrestler on the day for Manawa at the 285 pound weight class. He was unable to find success in round one, as he faced an undefeated opponent from Pittsville. His opponent lost in round two ending Thompson’s season sooner than he had hoped.
“Cole had a tough draw to start the day but none-the-less he made the sectional tournament and that is an accomplishment in and of itself. He has to walk away tall and proud but with a glimmer of anger in the back of his head to keep him working and going to camp to get better. His goal next year will be for his season to end in Madison on that touted podium so many men dream of. We are proud of his growth and accomplishments this year and are stoked we have him for one more run,” said Coach Johnson.