SPASH Advances Five Wrestlers to Madison
“He has overcome adversity all season; coming back from a serious injury that caused him to change his wrestling style.”
By Ken McKenzie
The strong performance by the SPASH Panther wrestling squad this season continues for yet another week, with five earning a trip to compete at the 72nd annual WIAA Individual Wrestling Championship Tournament next weekend at the Kohl Center.
The quintet begins their championship match work during quarterfinals on Thursday, with final competition on Saturday.
Claiming sectional championships for SPASH were 113# sophomore Dylan Koontz (45-4) and #152 junior Fritz Schierl (35-5).
Second place and state qualifiers were: 106# sophomore Brady Koontz (47-4), 120# freshman Chance Bailey (29-11), and 220# senior Noel Winch (36-10).
Schierl returns in his second trip to the state championships and will try to build on his fourth place finish of last year.
“We’re really excited to be taking five on to compete in Madison,” said Head Coach Duane Groshak. “I believe the records show this is the first time we’ve sent more than four to state since 1956, adding to our year of raising the bar and establishing new benchmarks for the program. And Tyler Hall came so very close in his second place wrestle-back, so we almost had six.”
In the initial round of action Saturday, SPASH had eight of ten wrestlers win their first matches, including five by falls and one by technical fall. Winning by falls were both Koontz’s, Bailey, Schierl, Winch and Tyler Hall (138#) advancing with technical fall (24-9).
Dakota Kelz advanced on 2-1 tiebreaker, and 160# Joey Roth moved ahead on 6-1 decision.
Brady Koontz won in the semi-finals by 5-2 decision before losing in the final 9-4 and then winning a second place wrestle back by 9-3 decision. Dylan Koontz won out by scoring a 3-1 decision in the semifinal and then winning championship with a fall in 5:44.
Schierl won by 5-0 decision in semi-finals and by injury default in the finals match.
“Fritz has had a tremendous season,” said Groshak. “He has overcome adversity all season; coming back from a serious injury that caused him to change his wrestling style. Also, when he had to limit his mat time in mid-season, the extra cardio work has helped his endurance and made him an ever-stronger wrestler.”
Bailey added a 3-1 semifinal decision and lost 7-3 in the final, but preserved his chance to travel to state by winning second place wrestle-back by rule.
At 138#, Hall lost by 3-2 decision to eventual champ in semi-final, earned a sudden victory in third place match and then dropped a 7-4 decision in a second place wrestle-back and a near miss at competing in Madison.
Kelz lost to eventual second place finisher 3-0 and then dropped wrestle-back by fall for fourth place finish. Roth lost in semi-finals by injury forfeit to finish fourth.
Junior wrestler Jake Harlow (170#) lost to eventual second place finisher in his opening match by fall to end his season as did senior Paul Zalewski who dropped his opener by fall to Hudson’s fourth place finisher.
Noel WInch added a 3-2 decision in the semi-finals before dropping a 12-8 decision in the finals, but earned his ticket to Madison with a successful second placement wrestle-back win.
Other WVC conference wrestlers winning at the Eau Claire sectional were Merrill wrestlers Devon Schultz (120#) 39-8 and Scott Arneson (132#) 45-1; Joe Ziolkowski (145) champ and undefeated on season at 41-0; and Merrill’s Mason Reinhardt (170#) 45-1.
Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln advanced seven wrestlers to Madison, crowning six champions and one second place at the WIAA sectional hosted at Green Bay West/Southwest and giving the Wisconsin Valley Conference a combined delegation of 19 wrestlers advancing to compete on the three-mat format at the Kohl Center.