Titans’ wins carry more weight; team state dream fades
WIAA DIV. 2 BALDWIN-WOODVILLE TEAM WRESTLING SECTIONAL
The Medford Raiders had enough wins to give second-ranked Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau/Melrose-Mindoro a run for its money in Tuesday’s WIAA Division 2 sectional championship wrestling dual meet at Baldwin-Woodville.
Unfortunately, the Raiders just didn’t quite have the points they needed in a 35-28 loss to the Titans, who qualified for their third straight trip to the WIAA Division 2 team state tournament, which will be held March 7 in Madison.
Both teams won seven bouts in the championship dual. The Raiders were unable to make up the six points lost in the one match they had to forfeit and didn’t quite get as many big wins as the Titans did.
“It was a close dual and I commend (the Titans) on their efforts,” Medford head coach Brandon Marcis said. “They’re a well-coached team, very disciplined. Tonight they just got us. I’d like to think that if we wrestled this dual 10 times over, it’d be different every time.
“But they got us tonight,” he added. “That’s how wrestling is. Nothing is guaranteed no matter how much work you put in and how well-prepared you are. Nothing is guaranteed. We wrestled hard and that’s the way it goes. We knew we had to have everything kind of go our way. It was looking like that for awhile. There were a couple of matches we just didn’t quite get that we were hoping we could have. It was close.”
The Raiders, who jumped up to sixth in the Wisconsin Wrestling Division 2 team rankings after easily winning Saturday’s regional meet hosted by Regis-Altoona, got an unexpectedly easy win in the semifinal round of Tuesday’s team sectional. Illness hit Northwestern High School hard in the last couple days and the Tigers were only able to weigh in seven wrestlers for their meet with Medford. The Raiders took advantage and coasted to a 63-16 win, while the Titans were pushed while beating host and 11thranked Baldwin-Woodville 44-21 in the other semifinal.
The championship meet started at 160 pounds, which Medford felt good about and the Raiders won the pre-meet coin flip, which they felt real good about in setting up their lineup early.
Emett Grunwald, who started the night at 33-9, bumped up a weight class to face 33-11 Titan Jaden Anderson in the opening bout.
After a scoreless first period, the wrestlers traded second-period reversals with Grunwald taking a 4-2 lead in the third. Anderson looked to be in trouble after staggering for a moment when the wrestlers bumped heads. But after a brief stoppage with 1:10 left, Anderson regrouped and got a go-ahead takedown in a scramble on the mat with 55 seconds left. Grunwald almost had enough control to get a reversal with 10 seconds left, but his last-gasp move resulted in him giving up a near fall as time expired in a 7-4 loss.
Raider Hayden Johnson got the first takedown against 32-10 Hunter Andersen in the 170-pound match and still led 2-1 after one period, but Andersen flipped Johnson over in the second period and got two near falls for a 7-2 lead and then finished off a 15-2 major decision.
The 182-pound match featured two of the weight class’s best in Raider Clay Bowe (34-6) and Titan Jacob Summers (36-7). Bowe beat Summers a month ago in the Arcadia Challenge title bout 6-2. This time, both wrestlers found early success attacking the legs. Summers took a 6-4 lead into the second period, where got leverage high, reversed Bowe and eventually pinned him at the 3:46 mark for one of the dual’s key decisions.
As they had planned if the choices fell right, the Raiders forfeited to Titan standout Bryce Burns at 195 to give the Titans a 19-0 lead four matches in.
The early forfeit allowed Medford to bump Dalton Krug up to 220 pounds, where he got Medford on the board with a 7-5 win over Justin Gappa. Krug got Grappa in a second-period cradle to build a 7-2 lead. Gappa reversed Krug to start the third and, at times, appeared to have the momentum needed to get a pin. But Krug refused to get turned and held on for the win.
Medford’s top-ranked Jake Rau moved up to 285 pounds to take on the Titans’ seventh-ranked Trevor Daffinson in what turned out to arguably be the match of the dual.
Rau took a shot in the final seconds of the opening period, but lost his grip and Daffinson recorded a takedown as time expired. Rau rode Daffinson through the second period to still trail 2-0 going to the third. Rau quickly started the final period with a reversal, but Daffinson escaped and took Rau down to take a 5-2 lead.
Rau, however, wouldn’t be denied, getting a huge reversal on the outside edge of the mat and getting two back points to win it 6-5.
“You can’t doubt your defending state champion,” Marcis said. “I have all the faith in him in the world and I look for him to repeat (at state) coming up in individuals. I know he’s going to overcome the adversities he’s got. He always has and he always will.”
Those wins got Medford within striking distance at 19-6.
“We knew we wanted to move around because we have to give up a forfeit anyway,” Marcis said. “So that was kind of our plan the whole time to move (Krug and Rau) around. That part of the plan worked out. We forfeited to the guy we didn’t want to wrestle and we beat the two guys that we moved around to wrestle.”
The Titans, however, got on another run at that point and put it out of reach. Seventh-ranked Carson Koss (38-7) used a big second period to earn a 12-3 major decision over Ty Sova at 106 pounds. Fourth-ranked Tanner Andersen pinned Matthew Gebert in 1:26 at 113 pounds and David Hiles pinned Blake Schilling in 1:28 at 120 pounds to give G-E-T/M-M a 35-6 lead with five matches left.
Virtually needing to pin out in those matches, Eric Rehbein got Medford started by finally tying up Jacob Stoner and pinning him at 5:26 in the 126-pound bout. Carson Church wasn’t quite as lucky at 132 pounds. He dominated Kohl Linberg in an 11-2 major decision, but Linberg spun out of a potential pin with about 50 seconds left, sealing the team win for the Titans.
Seniors Dane Higgins, Zeke Sigmund and Jake Brunner didn’t allow the Raiders to finish quietly. Higgins avenged a loss at Arcadia to Samuel Johnson (34-10), beating him 8-3 in the 138-pound match, using a takedown and near fall late in the first period to take command. Sigmund was briefly down 3-2 in the second period, but he took the 145-pound match over again and wound up pinning Bryce Blaken with two seconds left.
Brunner closed his fine wrestling career with the Raiders by dominating Daniel Slattery in the 152-pound bout 8-2.
“It was good to see Jake Brunner go out on a high note. That makes me happy to see that,” Marcis said. “It’s a good team. We’ve done well. I’m proud of them.
I liked the way they finished it. We have a lot of pride in Medford so we want to show that and we did, so I’m happy about that. Every guy wrestled hard.”
While the dream of winning a team state championship is gone, the Raiders still have nine wrestlers alive in their quests to get to next weekend’s individual state tournament. Sova, Rehbein, Church, Higgins, Sigmund, Grunwald, Bowe, Krug and Rau compete this Saturday at the individual sectional in Osceola (see page 6).
“We’re super excited for that,” Marcis said. “We’re looking to send a lot to individual state. Looking for all the guys that are still around to be in the room every day and make everybody better. That’s still part of the team concept. We want to make sure we’re supporting our team members in our individual endeavors and our team endeavors.”
Raiders 63, Tigers 16
Medford was anticipating a potentially close dual with Northwestern in Tuesday’s semifinals, but, obviously that didn’t happen.
Medford won four of the six contested matches in the dual. Grunwald started things at 152 pounds by pinning Tjay Ziebaerth in 1:39. Brunner broke away from an 8-8 after two periods with an escape, takedown and near fall late to Jesse Larson 14-8 at 160 pounds.
Johnson built a 6-1 first-period lead and then pinned Landon Conners just 16 seconds into the second period at 170 pounds. Sigmund finished the meet by pinning Mark Jarman in 52 seconds at 145.
Bowe, Rau, Sova, Gebert, Rehbein, Church and Higgins took forfeits. Isaac Nichols earned a 17-2 technical fall over Krug at 195 pounds, Camren Benesch was a 23-7 technical fall winner over Schilling and Trent Orlowski took a forfeit for Northwestern at 285 pounds.