By Jeremy Ratliff
Thursday night the Bluejay wrestlers headed south to Schofield for their 2016-17 WVC debut at D.C. Everest High School.
Following a forfeit in the 106 class, Alex Gehke pinned Everest’s Thomas Albee (3:59) to put the Jays on the board. Hayden Smith garnered a forfeit in the 120 class to set Merrill up 12-6. The Evergreens then responded with a pair of Major Decisions in the 126 and 132 classes to take a 14-12 lead, only to be answered by Merrill senior and returning state qualifier Devon Schultz, with a 3:16 pin over Dylan Lincoln, to swing the pendulum back in the Jays’ favor 18-14.
Despite an Everest Sudden Victory (Brendan Leder) at 145, Merrill’s Brodie Gehrke (152) and Bradley Leiskau (160) came up huge with back to back pins, to extend the Bluejay lead to a comfortable 30-17 margin.
Merrill would maintain their lead well into the latter portion of the evening until an Everest pin at the 220 class (Walker Bathke-Merrill) would put the Evergreens within striking distance at 36-35; headed into the final bout of the evening. A win from Merrill’s Noah Bolling in the 285 class would nail down the meet for the Jays, a loss would send the Evergreens home with the “W.”
Bolling would ultimately cap the 42-35 victory for the Jays with a thrilling, hard-fought pin at the 3:01 mark.
“Noah has been wrestling very well this season,” comments second-year head coach Brian Suchocki. “He did very well last weekend at the Papermaker Invite in Kimberly and wrestled a great match tonight. It was a good win for us tonight. It’s a big deal whenever you get a win in the valley.
“We wrestled very well as a team. We had four freshman who stepped up for their first varsity matches tonight and I was very happy with the results.
“Alex Gehrke and Casey Hoffman (132/L-12-4 Major Decision) did very well against a couple of very tough opponents. Devon Schultz did very well tonight as well. He has invested a great deal of his free time to wrestling and becoming a better wrestler. His hard work is really paying off on the mat.”
The guys return to the mat on Thursday when they make their 2016-17 home debut with the Wausau-East Lumberjacks in another WVC bout.
Meet time is set for 7 p.m.