Random Lake senior Reed Anklam entered the weekend the No. 1 ranked wrestler at 285 pounds in Division 3 by Wisconsin Wrestling Online. On Saturday at the Kohl Center in Madison, he showed the sold-out crowd of 18,000-plus fans attending the third-and-final day of the WIAA State Individual Wrestling Championships why.
Facing Mishicot senior Jon Brendemuehl (48-6) in the Division 3 285-pound championship, Anklam (47-4) came out with a 3-2 ultimate tiebreaker victory and a first place medal to take back to his hometown.
“It’s the best feeling I’ve had probably in my entire life,” Anklam said as strangers, one right after another, approached him to say what a great match he had just completed. “I’ve been working hard for this and I am so happy and so thankful I made it count this year.”
It was the third time in three weeks the pair had matched up and six minutes wasn’t enough to decide the outcome on either occasion. Brendemuehl topped Anklam by virtue of an ultimate tiebreaker in the regional final. Anklam evened the slate with a win over Brendemuehl in sudden victory in the sectional final last week.
The rubber match was for all the marbles. As expected, the bout was not decided in regulation.
“It was a really fun, hard-fought match. I knew it was coming down to the wire,” Anklam said. “He is a good guy, we go far back, and this year we’ve been battling back and forth. It feels great to come out on top.”
After a scoreless opening period, Brendemuehl recorded an escape to take a 1-0 lead heading into the third. Anklam tied the score with an escape of his own in the third and the two headed to overtime deadlocked at 1-1.
“We talked beforehand, you have to win whether it opens up or becomes a slow heavyweight match, and I would say it was in between that,” Random Lake coach John Hatfield said. “It was a fantastic win for Reed.”
Each wrestler was on bottom for one of the two 30-second tiebreaker periods and each wrestler earned an escape, sending the match to an ultimate tiebreaker.
Brendemuehl was on bottom for the decisive 30-second stanza. If he could escape, the title was his. If he couldn’t, Anklam would walk away the champion.
“I knew I had to make something happen in the third (period) or overtime,” Anklam said. “When it got to the tiebreaker, I knew I had to just hold on and enjoy the ride.”
For a fleeting moment, midway through the period, Brendemuehl found daylight. However, Anklam was able to latch onto one of Brendemuehl’s legs and drag him back to the mat for the remaining time.
“I knew going in it was going to be a classic heavyweight matchup,” Anklam said. “I knew the drill. It was a fun experience.”