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Raiders outwork Hatchets for big win in intense GNC dual


The Medford Raiders are a wrestling team built around their ability to pile up pins.

On Thursday, in their biggest dual meet of the winter thus far, they showed they can grind out six-minute matches too if necessary.

Seven of Medford’s nine wins came by decision, and that was enough to outscore host Tomahawk 33-25 in a battle between Great Northern Conference unbeatens to cap the dual-meet portion of the league schedule. Medford fell behind 18-3 after four matches but had the knowledge all of its veterans were still waiting to wrestle.

For the most part, they came through and put the Raiders in great position to win their third GNC title in four years Saturday at the conference meet, which they will host at Raider Hall starting at 10 a.m.

Medford head coach Brandon Marcis, now in his fourth season leading the Raiders, said it was easily the best GNC dual meet he’s been a part of since he took over.

“There was a lot of intensity in the gym, I mean it was electric,” he said. “You could just feel it walking in. It was different. Personally, since I’ve been in the GNC, this was the highest level of wrestling for a dual meet I can remember.”

Tomahawk came into the meet sixth in Division 2, while Medford was on the honorable mention list, according to the Jan. 28 Wisconsin Wrestling state ranking.

The Hatchets grabbed the early momentum, sending out Austin Leinen to receive a forfeit at 285 pounds and getting pins from Chris Bushong over Ty Sova at 1:48 in the 113-pound bout and Lance Knight over Matthew Gebert at 1:48 in the 120-pound match. Medford did get three points from 106-pounder Thaddeus Sigmund, who beat Addison Peissig 4-2.

Down 15, the Raiders were in a spot where they needed a win and senior Eric Rehbein got it for them, edging Luke Knight 5-4 in the 126-pound match. Knight was the GNC runner-up last year at 126.

“Eric Rehbein wrestled a good match,” Marcis said. “We knew it was going to be a good match. I think Eric is peaking at the right time. He’s improved so much. He’s a physical wrestler. He’s probably the most physical guy on our team with the way he wrestles. He’s been winning the close ones and he did it in this one.”

Carson Church battled through a sixminute brawl to beat Tomahawk’s Mason Evans 5-3 at 132 pounds. Evans was 4-0 in GNC matches coming in. Sixth-ranked Dane Higgins shut out Alex Bishop, an honorable mentionee last week at 145 pounds, by a score of 5-0 in the 138-pound bout to pull the Raiders within 18-12.

Medford did get two pins on the night and, according to Marcis, both were huge.

The first came at 145 pounds where seventh-ranked Zeke Sigmund needed just 1:15 to pin Isaiah Scheffler and tie the meet at 18-18.

“Zeke got a quick pin and that was really where it felt like it was starting to turn our way,” Marcis said.

Emett Grunwald gave Medford its first lead of the night at 21-18 when he outlasted Thomas Rigney 12-8 in the 152-pound match. Tomahawk tied it right back up when Logan Bishop, last year’s GNC runner-up at 138 pounds, held off Medford senior Jake Brunner 10-9 in the 160-pound match.

“Jake kinda got beat up for two and a half periods,” Marcis said. “There was a blood timeout and when they were cleaning that up, we talked in the corner about how we just didn’t want to give up a major decision. Tomahawk, I’m sure, was talking about how they needed a major. When they started wrestling, they somehow got back on their feet and Jake got him in a headlock and took him to his back.”

Medford’s second pin came at 170 pounds. Junior Hayden Johnson got it at the 5:23 mark over Marcus Matti put Medford ahead 27-21.

“When Hayden Johnson pulled his match out with a pin, I think that was the first time where I said, ‘oh yeah, I think we’ve got this,’” Marcis said. “When I was going through the lineups beforehand, and I did that quite a few times, I knew Hayden was going to have a key match for us. The kid came out pinned his guy. He’s been wrestling so good lately. I even said to him, ‘your confidence has to be so high right. You’re doing everything right.’” He wrestled very well. That was huge.”

The 182-pound match between Medford’s fourth-ranked Clay Bowe and Tomahawk’s 11th-ranked Kade Wenninger was one of the night’s more anticipated matches, but Bowe took the air out of that one, scoring early and defending well after that in a 7-0 win.

“He just took care of it,” Marcis said. “It was like he had a job to do. He punched in and did it.”

That boosted Medford’s lead to 30-21 and meant Tomahawk had to win the last two matches by significant margins to take the dual. The Hatchets got the first one when state honorable mentionee Eric Decker took a 13-0 major decision over Dalton Krug at 195 pounds. Despite being dominated, Krug battled and did not allow a pin or a technical fall.

That set up the night’s most-anticipated match between top-ranked and defending state champion Jake Rau and Tomahawk’s fourth-ranked heavyweight Tony Matti in the 220-pound matchup. Matti needed a pin to give Tomahawk the win. But Rau did what he always does, never getting in a position where Matti had that chance. A first-period takedown was all Rau needed to win it 2-1.

“It was close, but to me Jake Rau controlled the match,” Marcis said. “You just know Jake is not going to get beat by getting out of position.”

In JV matches, Eli Mahner was a 5-4 winner over Micah Arnott at 132 pounds, Trevon Drallmeier beat Brayden Jones 10-8 in overtime of their 152-pound match and Hudson Mattke beat Medford’s Blake Schilling 12-5 at 120 pounds.

With 10 team points earned by winning the season’s five duals, Medford holds a two-point lead in the conference standings over Tomahawk going into Saturday’s championships. The energy of the home crowd and the tournament format, over the dual format, should work in Medford’s favor, Marcis said. It’s up to the guys on the mat to finish the job.

JV tournament

Medford sent six wrestlers to Saturday’s West Central Wisconsin JV Challenge in Menomonie and the Raiders earned sixth place in the team standings with 102.5 points.

Gebert won a five-man bracket at 113 pounds with a 4-0 record. He beat Levi Guibord of Eau Claire Memorial 5-1, Connor Brown of Eau Claire Memorial 7-2, Tylor LaCroix of Spring Valley-Elmwood 10-3 and pinned Qiundre Wald of Chippewa Falls in 40 seconds.

Schilling got to the championship round at 120 pounds. After going 1-2 in the day’s opening pool, Schilling pinned David Whitaker of Wausau West in 27 seconds in the quarterfinals and earned a 12-1 major decision over John Ripienski of Chippewa Falls in the semifinals.

Drallmeier went 3-1 at 152 pounds, pinning Parker Lytle of Somerset in 1:04, Camran Baum of Eau Claire North in 1:27 and Zach Richards of Menomonie in 38 seconds. Thaddeus Sigmund won a pair of matches at 106 pounds, beating Xavier Sengkhamme of Wausau West 12-0 and Thai Yang of Wausau West 12-0. Sigmund’s day ended with a loss by injury default in the semifinals.

Mahner went 4-1 and took fifth at 132 pounds. He pinned Ken Xiong of Wausau West in the fifth-place match in 1:18. He also pinned Gabe Murray of Chippewa Falls in 1:57, Carter Hinze of Osceola in 1;22 and Miljun Cadullo of Chippewa Falls in 1:44.

Wyatt Johnson pinned Itan Garcia of Eau Claire Memorial in the ninth-place match at 170 pounds. He also pinned Tristan Lewis of Somerset in 1:21.