The Kaukauna wrestling team will be going for its elusive first state championship today.
The Ghosts beat Menomonee Falls and Burlington on Friday at the WIAA Division 1 state team tournament, setting up a match with Bay Port in today’s final at 3 p.m.
Kaukauna beat Menomonee Falls 59-3 in the quarterfinals, then took down Burlington 40-21 in the semifinals. Bay Port beat Merrill 28-25 in the other semifinal match.
“I thought we wrestled well,” Kaukauna coach Jeff Matczak said. “A lot of our kids haven’t wrestled in a while, so you kind of worry sometimes about how they’re going to come out when they didn’t make the state tournament, but they wrestled really hard with good intensity. We’ll be ready for tomorrow.”
Matczak said his message to his wrestlers was simple.
“Wrestle hard. Wrestle intense. Control what you can control,” he said. “We can’t complain about things we can’t control or worry about it. I know sometimes we get too caught up in that and how seasons end sometimes. You have to just put it all out on the mat and wrestle hard for six minutes. That’s about it. The team that wrestles the best is going to win. That’s what it comes down to.”
Robert Lee and Justin Kloehn each won two matches on Friday, but did it at different weight classes.
Lee pinned Austin Klein of Menomonee Falls in 1:28 at 132 pounds, then moved up to 138 pounds to pin Lukas Shenkenberg of Burlington in 1:33. Kloehn pinned Zack Pogorzelski of Menomonee Falls in 5:02 at 152 pounds, then went up to 160 against Burlington and pinned Isaiah Brenner in 2:09.
Kaukauna’s other pins against Menomonee Falls were by Will Russum (285), Kolton Jansen (126), Evan Hietpas (138) and Zach Shukoski (182).
Other pins for the Ghosts against Burlington came from Ty Lee (106) and Tres Leon (120).
Matczak said the Ghosts will need to be ready to wrestle against Bay Port.
“They’re up from our area, so we see a lot of common opponents,” he said. “They’re awesome. They’re well coached. Great community. Great tradition. It’s going to be a dog fight. We’re going to have to be on our game to go with them.”
Bay Port coach Brad Shefchik is also expecting a major challenge from the Ghosts.
“They’re horses,” Shefchik said. “I think they’re ranked in the country. They put a number of guys in the finals last weekend. We know what kind of team they have. These kids have been battling each other since grade school — some of the kids they have and we have — so I think it’s going to be a great match. I’m not sure what the score is going to be, but we’re going to have 14 really good matches for the fans to watch.”
KAUKAUNA 59, MENOMONEE FALLS 3
220: James Dow MF dec. Alex Martin 5-2. 285: Will Russum K pinned Trayvon Handy 5:20. 106: Ty Lee K major dec. Aaron Daly 9-0. 113: Ian Gioacchini K dec. Ben Bonesho 6-2. 120: Tres Leon K major dec. Billy Holz 12-0. 126: Kolton Jansen K pinned Jeff Kleser 3:02. 132: Robert Lee K pinned Austin Klein 1:28. 138: Evan Hietpas K pinned Jake McMahon 3:56. 145: Bailey VanHandel K dec. Casey Crangle 3-2. 152: Justin Kloehn K pinned Zack Pogorzelski 5:02. 160: Tanner VandenHeuvel K dec. Tyler Simcock 2-0. 170: Nick Agen K dec. Jake Fuiten 9-5. 182: Zach Shukoski K pinned Isaiah Williams 2:45. 195: Zach Haen K dec. Brandon Schafer 3-0.
KAUKAUNA 40, BURLINGTON 21
285: Will Russum K dec. Tyler Kirkeeng 7-2. 106: Ty Lee K pinned Luke Iverson 3:04. 113: Trent Leon K major dec. Joe Joerndt 11-3. 120: Tres Leon K pinned Robert Elsbury 1:42. 126: Ben Hornickle B dec. Kolton Jansen 4-0. 132: Josh Bird B pinned Drew Krepline 4:39. 138: Robert Lee K pinned Lucas Shenkenberg 1:33. 145: Evan Hietpas K dec. Lance Otter 9-4. 152: Bailey VanHandel K dec. Wes Gavin 6-2. 160: Justin Kloehn K pinned Isaiah Brenner 2:09. 170: Zach Shukoski dec. Jose Montez 6-1. 182: Hegeman Tiedt B dec. Trent Trull 6-3. 195: Chris Marks B dec. Zach Haen 6-0. 220: Greg Miller B pinned Mason VanAsten 4:18.