OCONTO FALLS – Bryce Ash and Nate Trepanier enjoy duck hunting.
The Oconto Falls seniors also like debating who is the most proficient at it.
“Definitely me,” Trepanier said.
“I don’t know,” Ash said. “I like to say I’m a good shot.”
Ash and Trepanier are a pretty even match on the wrestling mat as well.
Both have gotten off to strong starts and are aiming to win WIAA state titles.
Ash (17-0) is ranked No. 1 in Division 2 at 145 pounds by WIWrestling.com, while Trepanier (20-1) is ranked No. 2 at 152 pounds.
“It’s nice having someone at your skill level at your weight,” Ash said. “A lot of schools really don’t have that.”
There are not a lot of schools that have done what Oconto Falls has in recent years at the WIAA individual state tournament.
The Panthers have produced 10 Division 2 state champions since 2011 and have had at least one state finalist over the past seven years.
Trepanier continued that streak last year by winning the 145-pound state title to cap an undefeated season.
The Lindenwood (Mo.) University recruit would like nothing more than to return to the top of the state podium after watching Ash win a state championship as well.
“In the last year, he has gotten a ton better on top,” Trepanier said of Ash, who placed fourth at 138 as a junior. “It’s hard getting away from him. I struggle to in practice and that’s made me a lot better this year.”
Despite being close in weight and skill level, Ash and Trepanier go about their business on the mat in much different fashions.
Each style is equally effective.
“They’re very different,” Oconto Falls tri-head coach Dave Brasier said.
“Bryce is rough, physical and way stronger than he looks. The other night in practice, he was really a joy to watch. He was up there wrestling the (170-pounders) and the (182-pounders) real well and just eating them alive. He’s just a physical, rough and tough kid. He never stops. It’s just go, go, go, all the time.
“Nate is so slick, and so smooth, that most of the time you can’t even get a hold of him. Nate is all technique, and Bryce is all physical.”
Ash and Trepanier won titles at the 66-team On The Water Classic in Oshkosh Dec. 29-30.
Making it through a practice session can be just as challenging as making it through a tough tournament because of their familiarity with one another.
“We know each other’s moves now, so it’s kind of hard to wrestle each other,” Ash said.
Trepanier added: “It’s good competition. On our feet, we’re pretty equal. It goes back and forth all the time.”
Oconto Falls, which is ranked No. 5 in Division 2, faces plenty of tough competition within the North Eastern Conference. Luxemburg-Casco (No. 2) and Freedom (No. 3) are also ranked, while Wrightstown and Denmark are receiving honorable mention in the WIWrestling.com team polls.
The Panthers have seven wrestlers listed in the individual state rankings and should have several in the hunt for a state-podium finish.
They all have their sights set on making it to the top at the Kohl Center in Madison on Feb. 25 to add to the program’s legacy.
“I just know it’s my last year and last shot at it,” Ash said. “I think about it a lot and just want it to be here already.”
email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @andrewpekarek.