Saturday morning, the Bluejay varsity wrestlers hit the road bound for the Milwaukee suburbs, competing in the annual Zelinski Memorial Duals Meet hosted by Whitnall High School.
The guys would go on to complete a mid-field finish, placing 9th of 16 teams with a 3-2 record.
After falling to West Allis-Central in a 39-33 dogfight in their opening bout, the Jays bounced back to take down the “Varsity Reserve” team 72-12 (consisting of a combination of Junior Varsity wrestlers from teams in attendance to fill a void left by the event being one team short of a full bracket) then fell to Green Bay-Preble in another tight bout 42-41.
The guys then closed out the day with a decisive 45-27 win over Hartford Union and a 38-34 win over host Whitnall-Greendale.
Overall the guys finished with 7 of 14 wrestlers finishing 1st and 2nd in their respective classes.
Sophomore Holden Smith nailed down a 5-0 sweep of the 126-pound class; scoring a 16-0 Technical Fall over Preble’s Noah Huckins, another 17-2 Technical Fall over Whitnall-Greendale’s Sebastian Iverson and a pair of pins over Andrew Hernandez (Varsity Reserve) in 53 seconds, and a 2:51 pin of Hartford Union’s Charles Knealy.
Senior Devon Schultz continues to assert dominance in the 132-pound class in making another 5-0 tournament run Saturday.
Following a first-round forfeit, Schultz pulled off a huge upset in toppling Whitnall-Greendale’s Nathan Hensley (ranked 2nd of Division 1 state individual rankings) followed by a 16-1 Technical Fall over West Allis Central’s Devin Dietrich.
Schultz capped off his performance with a pair of pins: a 1:59 pin over Preble’s Santiago Amezquita and a 1:53 pin over Hartford Union’s Danny Driessen.
Brody Gehrke (145); Bradley Leiskau (152); Brody Zocher (182); Ashton Dalton (195) and Noah Bolling (285) finished 4-1.
Gehrke scored a 16-6 major decision, 9-4 decision, along with a forfeit and 3:27 pin. His only loss came as a result of a 4-3 decision versus Nick Scarcello of Whitnall-Greendale.
Leiskau posted four pins on the day, his only loss coming at the hands of Preble’s Kade Cummings by pin in 1:33.
Three of Zocher’s victories came via pin, while his fourth victory came as a result of an injury forfeit. Zocher’s only loss came via 9-3 decision.
Dalton and Bolling also posted pins in each of their four victories. Dalton’s only loss came by 7-2 decision to Muskego’s Gavin McNally while Bolling’s came via 11-4 decision to Hartford Union’s Quinn Meinerz.
“Whitnall was a good tournament for us,” comments head coach Brian Suhocki. “We came within five points of winning four of our five dual meets. We had some guys who were battling through some things and we had some younger guys step up and do very well.
“Brody Gehrke stepped up a weight class for us and had a great tournament. His single loss came against a very good wrestler from Whitnall. One call from the official could have sent Brody’s match into overtime, but unfortunately he didn’t get the call and lost. Casey Hoffman stepped up and wrestled very well for us as well.
“Freshman Walker Bathke has done a great job all season for us, stepping up when we needed him most. He stepped up once again today and won the Whitnall dual for us.”
Joust with Rapids
Thursday evening, the guys snapped a three-bout WVC skid with a thrilling 40-34 home-mat win over Wisconsin Rapids.
Following an early jump by Rapids with a pin in the 195-pound class, Merrill responded with back to back pins by Walker Bathke (220) and Noah Bolling (285) to take a 12-6 lead.
Rapids pulled in a forfeit at the 106-pound class, only to be countered by Alex Gehrke’s pin over Allister Greening (113) followed by back to back pins from sophomore twin brothers Hayden (120) and Holden (126) Smith, setting the Jays up 30-12.
Then it would be the Raiders’ turn behind the pendulum with a win by 14-4 major decision in the 132-pound class, a 2-0 decision at 138 and back to back pins in the 145- and 152-pound classes to suddenly grab the 31-30 lead.
The Jays would have an answer once again as Bradley Leiskau pinned Maverick Ballard in just over five minutes.
“Bradley has been wrestling very well lately,” Suchocki commented. “It’s not ideal to ask a wrestler to step up a weight class from where he normally wrestles, but we asked Bradley to do that tonight and he came up big for us. He wrestled a great match, fought through and got the pin.”
The Raiders managed to narrow the gap to 34-36 with a 10-5 decision at the 170 class, with one bout left to go on the night; the 182-class of Merrill’s Brody Zocher and the Raiders’ AJ Schultz.
In the wake of the six-minute bout during which Zocher consistently held the upper hand, the senior grappler was awarded a 10-1 major decision and sealed the Bluejay win.
“The way Brody has been wrestling down the stretch, I felt he could handle the situation,” Suchocki adds. “I didn’t feel the pressure would be an issue for him. Brody wrestles the best he can in every single match and tonight he came out with a win. We knew it was going to be a back and forth dual meet. We had a couple of seniors out of our lineup and once again we had some younger guys step up for us.
“The win put us at 3-3 in the WVC this year,” Suchocki said. “It’s pretty nice to make an improvement from our 1-5 valley finish last year.”