By Jared Schmeltzer
On Saturday, Feb. 17, the Merrill wrestling team sent four wrestlers to the sectional tournament at Wausau West. None of the Merrill wrestlers were able to advance to the state tournament, ending the season for the Bluejays.
Senior Noah Bolling wrestled at 285 for Merrill and was able to get a third place finish at sectionals. Bolling had a tough road to state as he would have to face the number two and number four ranked wrestlers in the state in his weight class. Noah would finish on a high note though, winning the third place match.
“Noah’s goals were higher than just to make it to state, so this stings a lot,” Head coach Brian Suchocki said. “We talked before his match in the semifinals. Obviously Noah was nervous but we focused on the fact he has a lot to look forward to outside of wrestling to ease the pressure so he could wrestle his best. It didn’t work out for him, but he did come back and take third, hoping for a chance for a wrestle back that he didn’t get. Noah put together a great career here at Merrill and he will be missed along with the other seniors.”
Casey Hoffman made his first sectional appearance and unfortunately was eliminated in his first match, losing by pin in 1:45.
“Casey made it to sectionals for the first time,” said Coach Suchocki. “It was good for him to experience and hopefully he realizes he can compete against the best. This offseason will be a chance for him to improve and enjoy other sports.”
At 170, Merrill’s Bradley Leiskau would come up short in his first sectional match as well. Bradley was pinned in 2:43 and finished the season with a record of 35-9.
“Bradley has been wrestling really well this year and I know he is disappointed with the result on Saturday,” said coach Suchocki, “but that will drive Bradley this offseason. Bradley has come a long way this year and if he continues working at it he will have another opportunity next year.”
Sophomore Walker Bathke made it to sectionals for his second straight year. Bathke wasn’t able to make it past the first match as he lost by tech fall with a score of 19-2.
“Walker made sectionals again this year as a sophomore,” Coach Suhocki said. “Mentally, I believe that helped him go out and try to perform but he still has areas he needs to improve in his overall strength and wrestling which can help him get to the next level. I know Walker will put in the time to get better.”
“Overall we were a young team,” Suchocki said of this season. “Many of our wrestlers have potential to make great improvements next year. Their efforts in the weight room, competing in other sports and putting extra time into wrestling this offseason will determine that.”