By Jeremy Ratliff
The varsity wrestlers hit the road southbound Saturday morning for the Milwaukee suburb of Whitnall, taking part in the annual Zelinski Memorial Invitational meet. When the mats cleared, Merrill stood with a 9th-place finish of a 16-team field, after going 3-1 on the day.
The guys dropped their first bout with Muskego 49-29, then rebounded to run the mat over South Milwaukee (42-25), Fond du Lac (48-15) and pull off a close one over Hartford Union (42-36).
Seniors Aidan Ball (138) and Tanner Pettit (152) paced the Jays by pinning each of their 5 opponents and depart with flawless records on the day. Senior Christian Kleinschmidt and junior Devon Schultz remained undefeated throughout the day as well, finishing with 4 and 2 pins, respectively.
Brad Leiskau (120) and Brendan Leder enjoyed a solid day as well, finishing with a 4-1 record and 2 pins each.
Other top finishers for the Jays were; Brody Gehrke (145, 3-2,P); Brody Zocher (182, 2-2, P); Collin Zoellner (285, 1-2, P) and Isaac Buntrock (285, 1-1, P).
“We wrestled a good tournament,” commented coach Brian Suchocki. “We lost our first dual with a very good Muskego team, who had a full line-up. We didn’t and that hurt us, but we came back to win the rest of our duals which was great. It was nice to win the rest of the duals being shorthanded.
“We had some injuries early this season and it just happened that this group in the high school right now has always been a small group. Our numbers are up in our youth and middle school programs, so I would expect our numbers to get better.
“It was great to see Tanner, Aidan, Christian and Devon finish 5-0 on the day, and Devon got the 100th of his career, which is a huge milestone for any wrestler. Aidan made it earlier this season and is now around 110 wins. It’s a huge accomplishment for both of them.”
Plight at the Panther Den
Thursday night the Jays fell 46-28 to 7th-ranked Stevens Point on the Panthers’ home turf.
Leder got things rolling with a victory by 9-1 decision in the 132 class, followed by Ball with a pin in the 138 class. Point responded with a win by decision at 145, and was answered immediately by Pettit’s 8-0 blanking of David Lummis at 152.
Unfortunately, things would begin to come unraveled from there for Merrill as the kitties took off on a 4-0 run consisting of a pair of forfeits at 160 and 182 and a pair of losses at 170 (Jake Spoehr/pin) and 195 (Brody Zocher/pin). Kleinschmidt finally snapped the streak with a pin in the 220 class. Zoellner’s win by forfeit in the heavyweight class would be the last of the night for the Jays as the Panthers took the 106 and 113 classes by forfeit, the 120 class by pin (Leiskau) and the 126 class by 5-0 decision (Devon Schultz).
“Point is a very good team and I think we competed well with them. We had our chances in a few matches, Devon had a big matchup but was a little under the weather. He’s hoping to get that loss back at the conference meet.”
By Jeremy Ratliff