You don’t want to put undue pressure on your freshmen, but Kevin Casper was out of options.
With the WIAA Division 3 semifinal match hanging in the balance, the long-time Coleman wrestling coach made it simple for 113-pound Jordan Blanchard – Pin your guy, the Cougars advance. Fail and they’re headed home.
Blanchard worked a half nelson and an arm bar on Random Lake freshman Levi Kohn before going back to his bread-and-butter move – a chest crusher – to pin him in 4 minutes, 28 seconds and give Coleman a 29-28 win over the Rams to advance to the D3 finals later tonight at the UW-Field House.
It wasn’t the final match of the dual, but Blanchard realized Coleman likely would take a pin at 120 pounds to state place-winner Brandon Depies. While Depies did just that to tie the dual 28-28, Coleman was awarded the decisive point based on registering the most individual victories (8-6).
It was the only pin the Cougars managed during the match and guaranteed them five team state place finish. They’ll wrestle top-ranked Spring Valley/Elmwood (16-0) for the D3 title later this afternoon.
All thanks to a freshman.
“I knew I had to pin for my team,” said Blanchard, whose match with Kohn featured a pair of individual state qualifiers. “I went out there and turned him twice, once in the arm bar and once in the half, and didn’t get the pin. So that third period, I just dove in for a leg hook, hooked the crusher and put him on his back and pinned him.”
Coleman won six of the first eight matches of the dual, which started at 126 points. The heart of the Cougars’ lineup – state-qualifiers Jensyn Schaal (126), Jackson Margis (138), Trevor Seewald (145) and Dexter Karban (160) – all earned victories during that stretch, but were unable to notch any bonus points.
Getting victories from Alex (160) and Hunter Stodola (182) was the difference with Hunter winning a toss-up match with Random Lake state-qualifier Jesse Verbanac 9-5 at 182 pounds.
Not only did it give Coleman an 18-7 advantage, but it also served as a measure of playback for Stodola (27-16) who was pinned by Verbanac (36-12) at the Oshkosh on the Water tournament earlier this season.
“We lost a couple in those earlier ones that I didn’t expect to lose … so we needed to find somewhere else to get a win,” Casper said. “For Hunter Stodola to be that kid that was just outstanding. Obviously if he don’t win, we don’t win.”
Entering the heart of Random Lake’s lineup, the Cougars conceded pins to D3 state runner-up Nick Klein at 195 and state champion Reed Anklam at heavyweight before Random Lake tied the dual 22-22 with Josh Depies’ 13-10 decision over Derick Teteak at 103.
That was when Blanchard shut the door.
Now, the second-ranked Cougars will get their shot at a 10th team state championship later this afternoon against the undefeated Cardinals, who advanced with a 37-16 win over Riverdale in the other D3 semifinal.
Spring Valley/Elmwood will have revenge on its mind after Coleman ended its only other team state appearance in 2012 with a 59-5 victory in the D3 finals.
The Cougars realize they’ll quickly have to turn the page after a gutsy performance from Blanchard, but it’s a match they won’t soon forget.
“You don’t like to put so much pressure on the kid, but we knew we were probably getting pinned at 120,” Casper said. “We knew we needed six.”
Coleman 29, Random Lake 28
(Final point awarded on tiebreaker criteria)
106: Josh Depies, RL, dec. Derick Teteak, 13-10. 113: Jordan Blanchard, C, pin Levi Kohn, 4:28. 120: Brandon Depies, RL, pin Brandon Champagne, 3:04. 126: Jensyn Schaal, C, dec. Jon Mudlaff, 7-3. 132: Trent Gottsacker, RL, maj dec. Marc Lansin, 10-0. 138: Jackson Margis, C, dec. Zak Stepniewski, 3-2. 145: Trevor Seewald, C, dec. Jacob Behn, 6-1. 152: Kody Kohn, RV, dec. Kevin Lansin, 8-1. 160: Alex Stodola, C, dec. Helton Vandenbush, 4-0. 170: Dexter Karban, C, dec. Adam Risse, 4-1. 182: Hunter Stodola, C, dec. Jesse Verbanac, 9-5. 195: Nick Klein, RL, pin Abe Nowak, 4:40. 220: C.J. Pillath, C, maj dec. Chris Lewis, 8-0. 285: Reed Anklam, RL, pin, Donovan Salewski, 0:51. Match started at 126.