Balance and depth carries MHS and THS grapplers
When Merrill hosted Saturday’s Bluejay Challenge, it seemed the biggest difficulty for Merrill and Tomahawk was fielding a full wrestling team.
The Bluejays managed to capture the event by more than 100 points at less than full strength, while the Hatchets ended up 6th in the 24-team event.
“There was a pretty good balance between D1, 2 and 3 teams, and any time you can come away ahead of 23 other teams that’s a good sign for the kids,” MHS coach Scott Arneson said. “All of our team finished in the top 11, which really shows our team balance. We had five in the finals and three won it. That’s a good weekend for the team, bouncing back after (the) D.C.E. (close dual win).”
Merrill finished with champions at 160 with Mason Reinhardt, at 170 with David Pophal and 182 with Ben Hintze. Tomahawk’s Austin Bellile (195) edged Merrill’s Alex Klug 5-4 for the title, and Merrill’s Garrett Schmelling (138) lost a 7-0 bout.
The state’s second-ranked Bluejays scored 511.5 to run away with the tourney, followed by Wittenberg (397, #6 in D2), Crandon (367.5, HM in D3), Sun Prairie (316.5), Mosinee (297) and Tomahawk (295.5).
“Considering we didn’t have five starters in the line-up, I thought we wrestled really well,” THS coach Bob Garrou said. “The kids responded to getting pounded by Rhinelander. We’ve beaten Crandon before this year. We were probably the third-best team there.
“We had two kids (at 170) and I made a mistake and wrote down the wrong kid to be our scorer or we would have beat (Mosinee) easily.
“Now, hopefully, Merrill and Tomahawk can get over the flu.”
Rounding out the Merrill placewinners were: Scott T. Arneson (3rd, 132); Aiden Ball (4th, 106); Nathan Beyer (4th, 120); Eric Ball (5th, 145); Dylan Schielke (5th, 152); Gabe Nelles (5th, 285); Kassidy Block (9th, 113); Tanner Pettit (9th, 126); and Riley Kurtz (11th, 220).
For the varsity reserve, these kids ranked: Justin Mondeik (7th, 106); Jagger Scholz (8th, 138); Lucas Lee (12th, 145); Dalton Clayton (12th, 152); Seth Collins (13th, 195); Tom Weinkauf (17th, 126); Collin Zuleger (17th, 285).
Other Hatchets finishers were: Henry Helland (4th, 170); Mitch Schauer (4th, 285); Jacob Borchardt (5th, 182); Adam FauFau (5th, 220); Kaleb Kaminski (160); Bryan Tomek (8th, 132); Dane Borchardt (8th, 170); Austin Story (9th, 120); Hunter Vian (10th, 152); Jacob McGuire (11th, 126); Quinton Wallenfang (16th, 145); Ryan Kuehn (21st, 138).
Team standings–Merrill 511.5, Wittenberg-Birnamwood 397, Crandon 367.5, Sun Prairie 316.5, Mosinee 297.0, Tomahawk 295.5, Ozaukee 285.5, Southern Door 236.0, Wisconsin Dells 228.0, Amherst 218.5, Marathon 202.0, Waunakee 188.5, Elcho 181.0, Menominee Indian 171.0, Fox Valley Lutheran 166.0, Oconto 163.0, Barron 149.0, Adams Friendship 146.0, Ashland 132.0, Gillett 96.5, Almond Bancroft/Pacelli 82.0, Antigo 73.0, Maple Northwestern 52.0, Lakeland 47.0.
Arneson was impressed with the time contributions for his event, along with the Northern Exposure tourney at the end of December.
“It was crazy how many matches we had going with 10 mats at a time,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of alumni coming back to work the tournament. I appreciate how many people are willing to help out with two tournaments in a two-week span. Hopefully the community benefits from this as well.”
The Bluejays pulled out Thursday’s road dual by a 39-28 tally due to picking up the big points. Both teams ended up prevailing in seven matches.
“We’re ranked high–even though I don’t care much about rankings–but even a new bike gets a flat tire sometimes that you’ve got to fix,” Arneson said. “We’ve never had our whole line-up all in yet this season. At some point in time I’d like to have our full show. Right now illnesses and injuries are getting in the way.
“It’s a tough time with the end of the semester and several kids sick. There’s lots of reasons why we were maybe a little flat.
“On the other hand, nobody winning the Super Bowl this year is going to be undefeated. The reality is losses or maybe not wrestling well should flip a switch and make you better. But it has to come from within.”
After E. Ball’s opening 5-0 loss, MHS ripped off seven straight with a 4-3 Schielke decision, pins from Reinhardt (1:43), Pophal (1:00), Hintze (3:08), Klug (2:32) and Tyler Schmidt (220, :35) and a forfeit to Nelles.
Everest bounced back with six consecutive wins, handing losses to A. Ball (15-3), Mondeik (:54), Beyer (3:25), Pettit (9-4), Kevin Schmidt (132, 11-5) and Schmelling (1-0).
Rhinelander stuck THS with its first GNC loss, doubling up the Hatchets 44-22.
“They were more aggressive and a little better than us,” Garrou said. “They won every close match. It was a very good learning experience for our kids.”
It was just 23-22 until the Hodags shut the door in the final four matches with pins of Kevin Zurfluh (113, 3:56) and Story (3:09) a 7-3 McGuire loss and a Nate Flohr injury default at 132.
Tomahawk collected points from Peter Pintens (152, 16-3), Jake Borchardt (2:38), FauFau (3:24) and Cullen Wegener (106, 1:22). Other losses were handed to: Tomek (18-3), Wallenfang (5-4), Vian (1:27), Kaminski (6-2), Bellile (8-2) and Schauer (3-1).
Merrill will host Wis. Rapids (HM in D1) on Thursday, then go to Saturday’s Whitnall Invite. Last year all five opponents were ranked ahead of the Jays prior to MHS winning it. THS goes to Lakeland Thursday and the DePere Invite on Saturday.
- Merrill nine rejuvenates at Lakeland Invite
- Jays up ante at regional
- Golfers runners-up
- THS bumped from playoffs
- Hatchets snag top seed
- Merrill kickers pick up first win in Antigo Invite
- Bluejay girls close conference on an even keel
- Merrill golfers wrap up Valley runner-up finish at home
- Last indoor gasp for Tomahawk track
- THS swings low