The WIAA individual state wrestling tournament is still a long way off.
With 80 some days between now and the tournament, there will be grueling practices and even tougher matches.
Some of those tough matches were seen Saturday at the Little Chute Mustang Invitational, where wrestlers like Little Chute’s Bryce Zdanovec, Weyauwega-Fremont’s Trevor Potratz and Wrightstown’s Alex Maes took that first step to returning to the state meet.
“I didn’t go last year,” said Maes after pinning Matt Vandenberg of Little Chute in five minutes, 52 seconds to win the 138-pound weight class. “I kind of had a stacked bracket. This year, I’ve got to get back and try to win it all.”
Potratz and Zdanovec both made it to the state meet only to lose their opening-round matches. Now both want more.
“I feel like I gained a lot more confidence,” Zdanovec said in comparing where he was as a wrestler at the end of last season to where he is now. “The Aviators Wrestling Club, that helped a lot, and then camps, too.”
According to Mustangs coach John Pashouwer, a lot is expected of Zdanovec, who won the 132-pound weight class by pinning Wrightstown’s Quentin Propson in 2:40 in the championship match.
“I plan on seeing him on the (awards) steps at the state tournament this year,” Pashouwer said. “He’s a quality kid. He’s that good of a kid. He’s a leader in our program. Last year, he was the first (Little Chute) sophomore ever to make it to state. He showed you can make it as a young guy. You don’t have to wait until you’re juniors or seniors around here.”
Potratz, who wrestled up from his normal weight class of 145, took second at 162, losing in double overtime to Dominique Ramirez of Lena 2-1. Potratz learned a lot during his junior year and during the offseason and plans to make it pay off this year.
“Last year, I put myself out of position too often, trying to create scoring opportunities and I got scored on too much,” Potratz said. “This summer, I just picked a couple of things that I do well and tried to get myself to be perfect at those things so I can do a couple of things really, really well instead of everything.”
Winning a state wrestling title isn’t easy. Just getting to the state meet is difficult enough, with a lot of wrestlers who had good records not making it. Maes, for example, was 36-11 last season. That’s why the focus has to be there for every practice and every match.
“I feel like I’m focusing more on wrestling,” Maes said. “Last year, I kind of screwed around and didn’t care as much about the wrestling. I was more in it just to have fun. This year, I really want to focus and make the most of my last season.”
Little Chute won the team title with 223½ points, 14 better than runner-up Wrightstown, which won in 2011.
“It’s our first match and it’s nice to get out and see what they’ve been working on,” Pashouwer said. “We had about four or five kids who had never wrestled varsity before. To get out here and finally get on the mat, they had a lot of fun, I think.”
That initial experience should prove invaluable to those new Mustangs varsity wrestlers as far as moving them along the learning curve.
“It’s early in the year and we’re not expecting to be at our best,” Pashouwer said. “But to come in here and win our tournament is a great feeling. One of our goals when I first started here was to win our own tournament.”
LITTLE CHUTE 233.5, WRIGHTSTOWN 219.5, DE PERE 155, WEYAUWEGA-FREMONT 132, WEST DE PERE 124, APPLETON WEST 77, GILLETTE/SURING 63, CLINTONVILLE 59.5, LENA 48
106 – First: Michael Bannach WR pinned Mike Lancour LC :42; Third: Jon Morgan W-F pinned Alex Fish WDP 3:22. 113 – First: Dillan Micke WR pinned Lars Shrader 5:05; Third: Michael Van Oss DP pinned Garret Kohls G/S 5:30. 120 – First: Oliver Radtke WF dec. Ben Verbruggen LC 13-5; Third: Josh Bonness DP dec. Grant Fischer G/S 12-2. 126 – First: Josh Verbeten WR pinned Zach Broullire DP :35; Third: Bryce Elm WDP pinned Kelvyn Van Laarhoven CL 3:38. 132 – First: Bryce Zdanovec LC pinned Quentin Propson WR 2:40; Third: Nick Thomas WF pinned Owen Maass WDP 2:08. 138 – First: Alex Maes WR pinned Matt Vandenberg LC 5:52; Third: Colin Weiss G/S dec. Tre Blohm WF 6-0. 145 – First: Tyler Turriff DP pinned Jake Schmidt WR 2:02; Third: Lucas Van Deurzen LC dec. Tad Taggart WDP 18-5. 152 – First: Shane Schwaller LC pinned Alex Schmitt WDP 4:36; Third: Mitchell Murphy WR won by injury default over Andy Pribbernow WF. 160 – First: Dominique Ramirez LE dec. Trevor Potratz WF 2-1 (2 OT); Third: Jackson Curtin AW dec. Aaron Schmitt WDP 7-6. 170 – First: Al Keuler WR dec. Eric Epping LC 10-1; Third: Charlie Poppe CL dec. Brandon Loehrke WF 12-6. 182 – First: Aaron Norwood DP pinned Quinn Schultz :58; Third: Mitchel Kiernan WDP dec. Blaik Fischer LE 12-1. 195 – First: Jake Reiter CL won by technical fall over Max Keyzers LC 15-0; Third: Jason Stupka WDP dec. Anthony Craig WR 8-5. 220 – First: Isaiah Hayes DP dec. Matt Bjork WDP 5-2; Third: Sam Beschta LE pinned Nathan Stelzer WF 2:31. 285 – First: Brandon Elrick LC pinned Jake Jaskolski DP 2:39; Third: Erick Vargas AW pinned Andy Bork WF 1:47.
— Jim Oskola: 920-993-1000, ext. 252, or email@example.com