The 2013-14 season was a banner year for wrestling in the Manitowoc area.
Twenty-one athletes qualified for the WIAA Individual State Wrestling Tournament in Madison. Twelve of them placed. Seven local wrestlers advanced to the state finals and four of them won state titles — impressive numbers considering the area had only 12 wrestlers qualify for State last year.
Two Rivers faced some of the stiffest competition in the state on a regular basis and Paul Bianchi consistently delivered.
This year, Bianchi, the 2014 HTR Media Wrestling Athlete of the Year, won the Division 2, 106-pound state title. He compiled a record of 52-2 with one of his two losses coming to Austin O’Connor (St. Rita of Cascia, Ill.) in the championship match at the Cheesehead Invitational. O’Connor is ranked tenth in the nation at 106 pounds according to theopenmat.com.
The impressive year was another chapter in what is quickly turning into an astounding career for Bianchi. In just two seasons at the high school level, the sophomore has accumulated a record of 101-6 and has a state championship to his credit to go along with a fifth place finish at State as a freshman.
“It’s amazing to think that his high school career is only half over,” Two Rivers head coach Paul Gehrke said. “He’s already accomplished more than most people do.”
That level of success is all possible due to Bianchi’s athleticism and solid technique.
“He’s always in good position. He works high-percentage shots and he stays aggressive and he keeps going after people,” Gehrke said. “He doesn’t give up too much. He’s only given up, I think, four take downs all year. His defense is really good, too.”
As anyone familiar with wrestling will tell you, a lot of hard work doesn’t hurt, either.
“He pretty much wrestles year-round, He’ll have a practice or two every week,” Gehrke said. “Last year he wrestled at the Pan-American games and out at Fargo with the Wisconsin team and I’m sure he’s going to do some more of that this summer.”
HTR MEDIA ALL-AREA WRESTLING TEAM
Jose Acosta, fr., Manitowoc Lincoln, (38-8)
Paul Bianchi, so., Two Rivers, (52-2) (AOY)
Jordan Brandt, jr., Reedsville (37-8)
Jon Brendemuehl, sr., Mishicot (45-6)
Aaron Field, sr., Kiel (37-9)
Bobby Geiger, sr., Two Rivers (46-8)
Matt Halverson, sr., Kiel (45-2)
Ty Pelot, sr., Two Rivers, (49-5)
Scott Skornicka, sr., Two Rivers, (48-6)
Grant Wedepohl, jr., Reedsville, (43-1)
Trevor Wittmus, so., Valders, (36-12)
Chris Yauch, jr., Two Rivers, (47-9)
Boone Young, jr., Mishicot, (41-7)
Zac Youngchild, sr., Manitowoc Lincoln, (44-6)