Three Bluejays left standing after Marshfield Sectional
The Bluejay wrestling team was well-satisfied when three of its members qualified for the big show out of Saturday’s brutal WIAA Marshfield Sectional.
“The theme for last week was finish it, and we finished up the qualifying season pretty nicely,” MHS coach Scott Arneson said. “I’m happy we finished it by selling out.
“Our sectional was so balanced that Wausau West qualified four and quite a few teams qualified three. People had been thinking they could get seven through and five would be nice.
“Kids that come through our sectional should be setting the goal to bring home some hardware because they’ve already wrestled against some of the best kids in the state.”
Arneson noted that some teams that had finished well back in January’s Merrill Challenge qualified six or more kids for state, including one that put seven through despite not having a single champ in Merrill. They competed in southern sectionals.
The Bluejays shot a trio of grapplers through to the state tournament, which begins Thursday in Madison’s Kohl Center. Juniors Ray Paul (145) and Noah Lassa (215) both won their classes, while freshman Tyler Schmidt (189) was a runner-up.
“Those three put together the right moves and all are underclassmen,” Arneson said. “Between the three of them, they’ve never missed a practice The proof’s in the pudding.
“Ray is actually wrestling really smart right now. We don’t want him to hold back at the state tournament. He set the goal all year to get to state. He was third the last two years and he wasn’t going to let it happen again.
“Noah has been there before so he knows what it takes. He’s in great shape and he can push the pace.
“Tyler, for a freshman to make it to state is great, but I hope he won’t be satisfied just to qualify. It really comes down to three amigos putting together great matches. Win the first one, then win the next one.”
Paul (42-4) pulled a pin in 1:29, prevailed 11-4, then took an 8-4 decision in the finals over E.C. Memorial’s Jonah Goss (31-3).
Lassa (43-3) pinned in 2:26, turned in a 6-0 win, then pinned Chippewa Falls’ Grant Schindler (35-10) in overtime in 6:26. Schindler appeared to be collecting the winning takedown, but Lassa-who had definitely been the aggressor in the match-flipped the 20-pounds heavier Schindler onto his back and sealed it off.
Schmidt (30-11 with most matches as an undersized 215) won 7-0, pinned West’s Jackson Beck in 2:28, then was edged 3-0 by River Falls’ Tyson Bystrom (24-10). Beck took third so there was no wrestle-back.
The Jays also collected four fourth-place finishes-from Garrett Schmelling (112, 36-9), Jack Osness (135, 28-18), Justin Bloch (152, 30-17) and Grant Collins (285, 32-14). Marcus Reinhardt (119, 28-10), Matt Reinhardt (130, 32-11) and Dylan Burkam (171, 28-16) did not place. Matt Reinhardt lost a 4-2 overtime match, while the others were pinned.
“Seven out of our 10 guys were in the semis, which puts you in the position of seven in the hunt for the state tournament,” Arneson said. “There’s that team balance again.
“Ten guys were there and most of them wrestled as hard as they could and it just didn’t work out for them.”
Collins lost a 1-0 decision in his third-place match, and Scmelling was leading in his before getting caught late and pinned. Osness lost 6-0 and Bloch was pinned.
The Bluejays ended up 4th in the 16-team event with 77 points, trailing West (117), Marshfield (83.5) and River Falls (79). Hudson, which edged West 36-33 in Team Sectional, was 5th at 69.
At state, Paul will face Burlington’s 36-8 Willie Ehlen in Thursday’s opening round, and Schmidt will grapple Reedsburg’s 28-6 Keith Craker, with a possible second-round match with Wis. Rapids’ 46-0 Devin Peterson-the nation’s 4th-ranked wrestler at 189. Lassa will meet Manitowoc’s 32-7 Adam Shavlik, with Muskego’s 36-0 Jordan Gruettner as a possible second-round foe.