Wolves hosting invitational on Jan. 2
By Greg Seubert
Senior Night turned out to be a successful night for the Manawa wrestling team, as the Wolves picked up their first Central Wisconsin Conference dual win of the season Dec. 17 with a 42-36 decision over Almond-Bancroft/Pacelli.
Manawa found itself in a hole early, but eventually built a 42-12 lead. It wasn’t long before that lead was trimmed to 18 points with three matches left.
Coach Brad Johnson asked for tough-fought matches from three of the team’s newest members to prevent the second 42-42 tie of the year. The Wolves didn’t need any of them to win, but needed at least one of them to not get pinned or two of them to score the first points of the match to prevent losing by criteria ‘H,’ which they had already done this season.
The young guns were able to do just that, as Joline Denton, Hunter Westphal and Thomas Pelzer all pulled through for the Wolves to secure the victory.
Denton and Westphal controlled the 106- and 113-pound matches and each of them lost by the narrowest of margins, Denton by two and Westphal one. The matches held the crowd at bay as each came down to the wire.
“That was fun,” Johnson said. “I know that neither is satisfied, but wow, it really shows our progress and how hard they have worked. This really assures me this program is moving in the right direction.”
Three Manawa wrestlers were eventually pinned late in their matches.
“Thomas Pelzer (120), Tyler Pynenberg (126) and Isaac Ratliff (145) are all on the green side of the forest, but really showed their worth tonight,” Johnson said. “Each battled deep into the second or third period and even had opportunities to put their opponents in fear.”
“That was a great night for those three,” assistant coach Dan Botting said. “Two more months and we will be beating those kids if we do the right things. Our inexperience is something we can’t just change and if they know that and keep just controlling what they can control, then they are going to be huge providers for this team in the future.”
Garrett Bristol (138), Daryn Claussen (152), Zeke Rausch (160), Zach Johnson (170), Ben Beyer (182) and Jordan Kons (195) picked up wins for Manawa.
“Each member pinned in either the first or second period and really left no doubt for their team,” Johnson said. “We were a little sloppy tonight as a bunch, but as long as we build off this and continue to strive for excellence in February, we will be fine. I am really impressed by how these guys are willing to bump anywhere for their team and get the job done. A couple of them are only in their second year of wrestling.”
Devon Truax and Trent Zabel manned the upper weights for the Wolves and faced some tough tasks. Zabel drew Cole Warzynski, the returning Division 3 state champion at 285 pounds, while Truax faced Warzynski’s practice partner. Both were dealt similar fates by the much more experienced duo.
“We can’t really complain about their effort,” assistant coach Shae Coyle said. “Besides that, I think these two had fun out there and it opened their eyes up to what success they really want to have.”
Dakota Lane (132) was the only Manawa wrestler to receive a forfeit in his first action of his career, resulting in his first varsity win as a freshman.
Johnson named Claussen as the team’s wrestler of the week.
“It seems fitting on Senior Night that Daryn was able to take home this award,” he said. “He led this team into great odds and has done so his whole career. No matter what odds are stacked against him or his team, he has them prepared for the trials they will face.
“Daryn pulled through in a big way on the mat as well,” he said. “After building a five-point lead, he went to work to secure the pin for the Wolves, shifting the momentum in the our favor and giving us the lead. We would never look back.”
Manawa competes Dec. 29 at the Merrill Invitational and will host the team’s annual invitational Saturday, Jan. 2, with matches slated to get underway at 9:30 a.m.