By Jeremy Ratliff
Despite giving up six classes by forfeit on Saturday, the Bluejay varsity wrestlers made the best of what they had to work with en route to a sixth-place finish in the WVC meet hosted at MHS.
While 6th place may not seem a high accomplishment to the naked eye, six of the eight wrestlers competing garnered all-WVC honors with a 3rd place finish or better, two of which ran the table in their respective classes and claimed conference championships.
Newly selected D1 state Honorable Mention junior Devon Schultz came out in the 120-pound class and wasted no time in pinning Wausau West’s Chemeng Lor in a matter of a minute and six seconds. Following a bye, Schultz went after 6th-ranked (D1) Matrix Jisko from Wisconsin Rapids with a vengeance, taking Jisko to the shed by 13-1 major decision. Then it was on to face fellow Honorable Mention Kyle VanGalder from D.C. Everest in the championship bout, ending with Schultz on top by 6-5 decision.
Senior Tanner Pettit claimed the 152 class following back-to-back pins over Everest’s Mitch Ververka (1:37) and Marshfield’s Sam Mitchell (2:17), and a 3-2 decision over Rapids’ Corey Sawyer in the championship bout. Schultz finishes his Valley season at 11-2, while Pettit finished 13-0.
Junior Brendan Leder (126), and seniors Aidan Ball (138), Christian Kleinschmidt (220) and Collin Zoellner (285) went on to claim 3rd-place finishes and etch their name into the All-WVC scrolls.
Following a pair of byes, Leder (6-4) fell to Stevens Point’s Chance Bailey and bounced back to pin Caden Pearce of Marshfield. Ball (7-3) defeated West’s Peter Jewell-Reigel, before falling to Marshfield’s Nolan Hertel. Ball bounced back in the third-place bout over Point’s Dylan Trigg by sudden victory. Coming into the meet with a solid 7-2 record, Kleinschmidt fell to Berkley Corvino of Everest, then rebounded to pin Jared Mata from Rapids.
Zoellner (8-2) followed the same path, falling to Brendan Patoka of Point and rebounded to defeat Chris Geurkink of Rapids in the 3rd place bout.
Other finishers for Merrill were Jake Spoehr finishing 5th at 170 and Brody Gehrke finishing 6th at 145.
“It was really good to come out with a few champs,” commented coach Brian Suchocki.
“We had the third-most conference champs of all the Valley teams behind SPASH and Rapids. Tanner wrestled as solid as he has all year, what a great way to end the regular season of his senior year. Devon turned it up notch and looked very solid, beating two ranked wrestlers.”
Merrill finished the day with 122 points.