WIAA Wrestling: Locals eye success at state tournament

WIAA Wrestling: Locals eye success at state tournament

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WIAA Wrestling: Locals eye success at state tournament

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Twenty one of the Manitowoc area’s best wrestlers will descend upon the Kohl Center in Madison for the WIAA Individual State Wrestling Tournament, which runs today through Saturday.

Six of the area’s seven teams will be represented at this year’s event. Seven of the 12 qualifiers from 2013 will be making a return trip to Madison.

Division 1

Manitowoc Lincoln’s Jose Acosta (126) and Zac Youngchild (138) each qualified for the tournament.

Youngchild is appearing in Madison for the third time in his career. He most recently qualified in 2012 and placed fourth at 103 pounds in 2011.

“Zac, this is what he has always wanted,” Lincoln head coach Nate Muckerheide said. “I think if he’s attacking and aggressive, he can wrestle with anyone in the state.”

Acosta, a freshman, is making his first trip to State. He may be new to the scene, but he should be in good hands with a coach who was a state champion and a teammate who was recently on the podium himself.

“He’s been to a lot of big tournaments. He’s wrestled a long time, so he’s seen a lot of it, but it is a different monster when you get there. So having a couple people that did wrestler there around him helps,” Muckerheide said. “Jose has all the tools. He’s young, but he can wrestle with anyone there.”

Division 2

Two Rivers will be represented by five wrestlers: Paul Bianchi (106), Ty Pelot (120), Chris Yauch (138), Bobby Geiger (182) and Scott Skornicka (195).

Pelot, a three-time state qualifier, placed third at 113 pounds a year ago, while Bianchi and Skornicka, who are both two-time qualifiers, each took fifth. Yauch qualified as a freshman in 2012.

The Raiders were downed in the team sectional semifinals last week, while Two Rivers head coach Paul Gehrke thinks the loss may provide an added edge, he does not believe it will take away from his wrestlers’ focus.

“I think they have a bit of a chip on their shoulder. They’re a little upset that they didn’t qualify as a team,” Gehrke said. “They definitely have an individual mindset about it as well. Everybody has their individual goals of being a champ.”

Gehrke hoped to ready his wrestlers for this event by competing in some of the higher-level tournaments the state has to offer.

“I think that was a huge part of our preparation for State. We wanted to get into those tough tournaments so that State wouldn’t be so big of a stage for us,” Gehrke said. “Cheesehead and Bi-State provided that for us. We had tough competition throughout.”

Gehrke believes all five of his qualifiers are capable of being in contention for a medal (top six).

“I think everybody can finish in the top three,” Gehrke said. “I think that we can have a couple guys ending up right at No. 1.”

Kiel’s Matt Halverson (285), Aaron Field (182), and Tanner Woepse (120) will being vying for a medal in their respective weight classes.

Halverson is a three-time qualifier, placing fifth last year. Field is making his second trip to the state tournament, while Woepse his making his first appearance.

Raiders head coach Eric Billman knows that, like all of the wrestlers in this year’s field, his three athletes have made a lot of sacrifices to earn the right to wrestle in Madison.

“They pretty much did whatever was necessary this year, one way or the other,” Billman said. “Basically, doing stuff outside of practice. The champions aren’t made from November until the start of the state tournament, they’re made in May, June, July, August, when you’re not wrestling. I know Matt did a lot of offseason wrestling. Tanner did a lot of offseason weight lifting and wrestling, same thing with Aaron.”

Billman knows his group is capable of great things.

“The three of them have a great opportunity in front of them. I know Matt’s goal is to be the one on top of the podium and if he does what he does and wrestles how he knows how, that’s where he’ll be,” Billman said. “Aaron has goals of being up there and he’s got a good chance. Tanner has a good chance of being on the podium. But those goals are only reached one match at a time. They just have to take it one match at a time and see how it goes.”

Valders is sending a trio of wrestlers to the Kohl Center. Junior Brandon Brennan (195) is making his second trip to State. He qualified in 2012.

Freshman Luke Oltmanns (113) and sophomore Trevor Wittmus (152) will be making their first trip to the big dance.

“Trevor went last year just to watch…so he saw what it’s like. Luke went down there as a youth state competitor. I know it’s not the same, but it at least gives him something to know what it’s like to be on the floor with a few more eyes on you,” Vikings head coach Andrew Miller said. “But, at the same time, that first State experience is something that we can’t really prepare them for until they’re down there. Everyone responds differently.”

“Right now, we’re just talking about keeping a level head. We’re kind of taking it one day at a time.”

Division 3

Mishicot also boasts five state qualifiers, tying them with Two Rivers for the most qualifiers in the area.

Weston Cracraft is making his third appearance at the Kohl Center in as many seasons. At 285 pounds, Jon Brendemuehl is making his second trip to Madison. He placed fourth at 220 pounds in 2012.

Kyle Hutterer (126), Boone Young (145), and Mason Matthias (152) will each be making their inaugural trek to the state tournament.

Indians head coach Mike Pratt said that his two wrestlers with State experience have been working to prepare the first-timers.

“It’s a big place. It’s a different experience for the kids who haven’t been down there,” Pratt said. “Weston and Jon have both really given their words of wisdom to the other kids and try to make them feel at ease. There’s going to be nerves, but you just have to overcome it.”

Though bringing home hardware isn’t a focal point for Pratt, he believes his wrestlers are capable of being on the podium come Saturday night.

“If they wrestle the way they can, hopefully we can bring back a couple medals,” Pratt said. “But I just want them to wrestle in the moment and be ready to go.”

Grant Wedepohl (170), Tyler Schuh (182), and Jordan Brandt (285) each earned the honor of of representing Reedsville at the state tournament.

Wedepohl, a junior, is a three-time state qualifier. He placed fifth at 152 pounds last year.

“He wants to be higher up on the podium. I think his goals are set pretty high,” Panthers head coach Don Verbeten said. “I think he can do it. He works hard at practice. He’s worked hard in the offseason. He has the work mentality to do it and the mental toughness to do it. It will be fun watching him and coaching him.”

Schuh and Brandt will be experiencing State for the first time. Verbeten has been preaching to his two first-timers about the importance of the proper mentality.

“A unique challenge is trying to get the guys used to the big crowd, get the guys used to just being down there, realizing this is just another tournament, instead of saying ‘this is the state tournament, these guys are the best…’ they put their pants on the same way we do. It’s another match. You toe that line and you wrestle it just like you would any other match.”

Local Qualifiers’ First-Round Matches

Division 1

126 — Jose Acosta, fr., Man. Lincoln (38-6) vs. Collin Krause, so. Stoughton (46-5); 138 — Zac Youngchild, sr., Man. Lincoln (39-5) vs. Zac Benton, jr., Ashwaubenon (34-12)

Division 2

106 — Paul Bianchi, so., Two Rivers (49-2) receives a bye; 113 — Luke Oltmanns, fr., Valders (32-9) vs. Jason Clapper, sr., Lodi (40-3); 120 — Ty Pelot, sr., Two Rivers (46-4) receives a bye; Tanner Woepse, jr., Kiel (35-9) vs. Ben Vosters, sr. Wittenberg-Birnamwood (46-3); 138 — Chris Yauch, jr., Two Rivers (44-9) receives a bye; 152 — Trevor Wittmus, so., Valders (35-9) receives a bye; 182 — Bobby Geiger, sr., Two Rivers (44-7) receives a bye; Aaron Field, sr., Kiel (37-7) receives a bye; 195 — Scott Skornicka, sr., Two Rivers (46-5) receives a bye; Brandon Brennan, jr., Valders (19-6) vs. Jake Reiter, sr., Clintonville (40-5); 285 — Matt Halverson, sr., Kiel (42-2) receives a bye

Division 3

126 — Kyle Hutterer, jr., Mishicot (28-7) vs. Trey Lendenquam, jr., Cumberland (37-5); 138 — Weston Cracraft, jr., Mishicot (45-3) vs. Bryan Ozak, jr., Oconto (29-6); 145 — Boone Young, jr., Mishicot (38-5) vs. Trystin Adams, so., Cumberland (33-8); 152 — Mason Matthias, jr., Mishicot, 39-9 vs. Scott Pittz, so., Mineral Point, 32-13); 170 — Grant Wedepohl, jr., Reedsville (40-1) receives a bye; 182 — Tyler Shuch, sr., Reedsville (36-6) vs. Damion Blechinger, sr., Turlter Lake-Clayton (32-11); 285 — Jordan Brandt, jr., Reedsville (35-6) recieves a bye; Jon Brendemuehl, sr., Mishicot (42-5) vs. Calvin Marriott, jr., Brockwood (19-19)

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