All three Tomahawk wrestlers who qualified for the state tournament have medals to go along with the experience. Kaleb Kaminski placed 2nd at 182, Dane Borchardt was 5th at 220 and Quinton Wallenfang was sixth at 170 in the WIAA State Wrestling Tournament held Thursday through Saturday in Madison.
Defending state champion Borchardt (42-2) won his quarter-final match at 220 pounds by a 5-4 decision over Brady Koller (42-3) of Sheboygan Falls. Borchardt then locked horns with Traiten Gorr (41-2) of Monroe in the semi-finals. The pair ended regulation deadlocked at 1-1. Gorr scored an escape to go up 2-1 in the tiebreaker period, but Borchardt got an escape of his own to knot the score at 2-2 after the second tiebreaker. Seconds into the ultimate tiebreaker, Borchardt gave up an escape, giving Gorr the 3-2 victory.
“It was a very close match,” THS coach Bob Garrou said. “It was back and forth, and he ended up losing.”
Dropping down into the consolation bracket, Borchardt lost by 6-3 decision to Bryce Roberts of Wisconsin Lutheran before winning the fifth place match over Ryan Socha of Ripon by 3-2 in a match that also went into overtime.
“Dane had a little bit of an off tournament at the wrong time of the year,” Garrou added.
Kaminksi (44-1), bested his fourth place finish at state last year, starting with a 3-2 decision in his quarter-final match over Hunter Luepke (40-5) of Spencer/Columbus. In the semis, he beat Brad Kautzer of Valders by 10-3 decision to set up the finals bout with Matt Blome of Mount Horeb, a runner-up at state last year who had beaten Kaminiski in the semifinals last. This year, the pair pushed the match to overtime, tied at 3-3 at the close of the third period. Kaminski took a shot, Blome found an opening and put Kaminski on the mat in the waning seconds of the first overtime period, scoring a pin with just two seconds remaining.
“Kaleb went for a gamble and it cost him,” Garrou said. “That’s life. We teach our kids to be aggressive and he left everything on the mat. I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
At 170 pounds, Wallenfang (40-4) ran into Valder’s Trevor Wittmus (42-7) in the quarter-finals. Wittmus went up 12-2 on points before pinning Wallenfang with 45 seconds left in the match. With the loss, Wallenfang moved on to the consolation bracket. He defeated Tayler Gilardi (37-12) of Viroqua Friday afternoon by 8-6 decision in his first consolation match. Wallenfang returned to the mat Saturday morning, facing semifinal loser Clayton VanLanen of Seymour. VanLanen won by 4-1 decision and moved on to the third place match, while Wallenfang then wrestled Jared Lease of Mauston for fifth place. Wallenfang lost that match by 7-3 decision and had to settle for sixth place in his only trip to the state tournament.
“He showed the nerves of it being his first trip to the state tournament,” Garrou said, “but he represented Tomahawk awesome. I’m really proud of the outcome.”
The Hatchet wrestling team was an example of quality over quantity this season.
“Considering we only had 14 kids out for wrestling, we went 14-2 in dual meets and tied or the conference title,” Garrou said.
Looking to the future, Garrou sees success continuing for Tomahawk wrestling.
“We have some very good kids coming up,” he said. “I think these young kids will follow the road built by these three boys.”