OSHKOSH – There are plenty of reasons why the Kaukauna wrestling program is in the midst of a lengthy dynasty.
Outstanding talent? Yup. Dedicated parents and a robust youth program? Absolutely.
But a stellar coaching staff that has decades of experience may be the biggest reason why the Ghosts secured their 12th consecutive conference title and 18th in the last 19 years Saturday at the Fox Valley Association championships at Oshkosh North.
Kaukauna, the three-time defending WIAA Division 1 state champions, boasted nine finalists and six FVA champions, including Mason Campshure (106 pounds), Brandon Micksch (120), Trent Leon (132), Zach Lee (152), Bryson Alsteen (170) and Mason VanAsten (220) to finish with 270.5 points, easily outdistancing second-place Hortonville (177).
“It has a lot to do with longevity,” Kaukauna coach Jeff Matczak said of the Ghosts’ success. “I’ve been here a long time. (Assistant coach) Bob Koehler has been here a long time. Chris McDaniel has been here since 2005 and came back from college and now he’s the athletic director. Steve McDaniel has been here forever and Jeremy Van Schyndel, a grad from 2003, has been back. And there’s a ton of other assistants coming in and out. Longevity. Good school. Good parents and good youth programs. We just try to give every advantage we can to our kids.”
Leon and Van Asten, both seniors, finished as three-time conference champions. Leon (32-6) won by technical fall over Kimberly’s Drosianos Louvaris 21-6 in the 132-pound title match.
“This is the end of the year and the most exciting part of it,” Leon said. “All the offseason training has just come down to this. This is what I have been working for since I was a little kid. Looking at the state title and guys that won when I was a little kid, I look up to them and I want to be up on the wall with them. This is all or nothing and I’m at a place where there’s nothing else I would rather do is wrestle for that state title. So I’m going to give it my all this last couple of weeks and see what happens.”
VanAsten (29-9) pinned Oshkosh West’s Griffin Kintopf in 1:00 to win the 220-pound title and threw up three fingers with his right hand to signify his accomplishment.
“It feels great and it feels like all my hard work is coming together,” VanAsten said. “It feels like another step in the road toward another team state title this year.”
Campshure, a freshman, defeated Oshkosh North’s Cade Schmitz 9-4 at 106 with Micksch, a sophomore, netting a win by technical fall over Oshkosh North’s Thomas Urben at 120.
Kaukauna junior Zach Lee pinned Fond du Lac’s Colin Athanasiou in 1:48 to win the 152 crown and the Ghosts sophomore Bryson Alsteen recorded a major decision (12-3) over Oshkosh West’s Reed Yoder at 170.
Hortonville was paced by the Barnett brothers, Jacob and Eric. Jacob, a senior, had a major decision victory (11-0) over Kimberly’s Hunter Bruecker to win at 126. Younger brother Eric, a sophomore, won at 113 in a 30-second pin of Kaukauna’s John Diener. Eric is 35-0 on the season.
Polar Bears junior Colin Schuler pinned Kaukauna’s Jacob Canner in 1:08 to claim the 145-pound crown and senior Elliott Luker got past Oshkosh West’s Edgar Heredia 7-3 to win at 160.
“Both Barnetts, they always stand out. They go out and wrestle so tough and physical,” Hortonville coach Chris Gennrich said. “Eric has just been on fire all year and has been on a roll. Just have to keep him going. And Jacob wrestled tough like he has for several weeks. Really impressed with him.
“Colin Schuler dropped down a weight class. The kid he beat had beat him twice this year by close scores. I told him that it was his turn for him to go out and get one and he did. And Elliott was our fourth champ and he goes out and takes care of business.”
Appleton North’s Ian Laatsch had a sudden victory over Hortonville’s Nathan Lichtfuss to win at 138, recording a takedown in overtime to win 3-1 and net the title.
“I stalled it out a little there at the end and I guess I got the point (to send it to overtime),” Laatsch said. “And in the overtime, I just had to score before he did. I’m pretty confident (going into regionals) and I’ll probably see (Lichtfuss) him again. Hopefully I’ll have another good match.”
Neenah’s Beau Yineman won the 182 crown, recording a major decision over Appleton North’s Brock Danielski (8-0). Kimberly’s Connor Zirpel pinned Fond du Lac’s Colton Wasieleski in 2:26 to win the 195 crown.
Fond du Lac’s Donte Johnson was named FVA wrestler of the year after winning the 285-pound title with a sudden victory (3-1) over Kaukauna’s Keaton Kluever.
KAUKAUNA 270.5, HORTONVILLE 177, NEENAH 166.5, APPLETON NORTH 136, OSHKOSH WEST 115.5, FOND DU LAC 112, KIMBERLY 97, OSHKOSH NORTH 66, APPLETON EAST 41, APPLETON WEST 0
106 – First: Mason Campshure KAU dec. Cade Schmitz ON 9-4; Third: Anthony Hefter NEE major dec. Charlie Hart KIM 15-3. 113 – First: Eric Barnett H pinned John Diener KAU :30; Third: Matt Hall NEE dec. Eric Esser AN 8-2. 120 – First: Brandon Micksch KAU technical fall over Thomas Urben ON 18-1; Third: Tyler Locke AE pinned Noah Heimmermann H 4:37. 126 – First: Jacob Barnett H major dec. over Hunter Bruecker KIM 11-0; Third: Mikael Kolosso KAU dec. Julian Donnelly NEE 8-7. 132 – First: Trent Leon KAU technical fall over Drosianos Louvaris KIM 21-6; Third: Isaac Bethel NEE pinned Reese Thompson OW 1:31. 138 – First: Ian Laatsch AN dec. Nathan Lichtfuss H 3-1 (SV); Third: Zach Scharenbrock AE dec. Jacob Schramm KAU 5-2. 145 –First: Colin Schuler H pinned Jacob Canner KAU 1:08; Third: Brytton Goymerac AN dec. Montana Jones NEE 7-1. 152 – First: Zach Lee KAU pinned Colin Athanasiou FDL 1:48; Third: Myles Laurent KIM major dec over Joe Cleereman H 12-4. 160 – First: Elliott Luker H dec. Edgar Heredia OW 7-3; Third: Weston Verhoff AN dec. David Oyler NEE 6-4. 170 – First: Bryson Alsteen KAU major dec. over Reed Yoder OW 12-3; Third: Ihab Khatib AN dec. Kirkland Hills H 4-1. 182 – First: Beau Yineman NEE major dec. over Brock Danielski AN 8-0; Third: Grady Sullivan OW dec. Adam Hopper FDL 13-6. 195 – First: Connor Zirpel KIM pinned Colton Wasieleski FDL 2:26; Third: Jon Heilman KAU pinned Marshall Kools NEE 2:03. 220 – First: Mason VanAsten KAU pinned Griffin Kintopf OW 1:00; Third: Chase Krug FDL pinned Brexton Bostwick NEE 3:19. 285 – First: Donte Johnson FDL dec. Keaton Kluever KAU 3-1 (SV); Third: Zach Fischer AN pinned Andrew Kalfas OW 2:02.
Ricardo Arguello: 920-993-7191 or email@example.com; on Twitter @PCRicardo