Dominant run through duals puts Raiders in control of GNC
With convincing wins over Lakeland and Antigo Friday, the Medford wrestlers extended their Great Northern Conference dual-meet winning streak to 22, capped a fourth straight undefeated GNC dual-meet season and all but assured themselves of being able to call themselves conference champions for the fifth straight season.
Unlike the split titles the past two years with Tomahawk, the Raiders don’t appear likely to share this year’s crown after overpowering their five GNC rivals in the duals, none of whom could match Medford’s depth in those contests.
Medford aims to wrap up the undisputed 2022-23 title at the league’s championship tournament Feb. 4 in Tomahawk. Medford is enjoying a two-week break from competition until that meet, which has a 10 a.m. start.
“We’re in the conference lead and we feel good about that, but it’s slipped from our fingertips, the outright win, the last couple of years,” Medford head coach Brandon Marcis said. “So we’re keeping our eyes on the prize and focusing on what’s important these next two weeks. Nothing is a given and we know that. You get what you earn.”
Onpaper,Friday’sdouble-dualinMosinee had drama at the end when Medford and Lakeland squared off with both carrying 4-0 GNC records into the dual. But, Medford proved to be clearly superior in a 57-18 rout.
The most intriguing match of the dual came at 160 pounds, where Medford junior Logan Kawa dropped down to take on Lakeland’s top wrestler, Zane Grams. Grams got the first shot and takedown, but Kawa worked his way out of Grams’ grasp and secured a takedown of his own in the final seconds of the first period to take a 3-2 lead. Grams rode Kawa but was unable to get any back points and still trailed 3-2 going into the third, where Kawa was on top and got a late near fall to win it 5-2. The win put Medford up 15-0 three matches into the dual.
“We knew that we were going after their best guy with that move,” Marcis said. “We always like to be the aggressor when it comes to things like that, trying to catch guys on their heels a little bit and we definitely did. Logan grinded that match out. He was down by two right away and never lost his head. He turned his nerves into excitement and just ground out the rest of the match. He got a big near fall at the end. Just the way he wrestled Friday and Saturday in general, he’s looking for big things in the post-season.”
Sophomore Paxton Rothmeier, who bumped up to 170 pounds in the lineup flip with Kawa, had to work into the third period but he was in complete command in his match with Tommy Howard. He led 11-1 before getting the pin at 4:22.
“We have almost two full weeks to just practice and heal up and work on our weaknesses,” Marcis said. “Paxton will definitely be working on bulking up and getting as close to a true 170 as he can. I think he’s going to do well there. He has speed. That’s one thing he will have on those bigger guys. He’s a little quicker. From the bottom, he’s getting into great stand-ups, just exploding to his feet.”
The rest of Medford’s pins all came in the first period. Gage Losiewicz opened the dual by stacking Jerome LaBarge at 1:15. Max Dietzman pinning Olivia Brown in 1:42 in the 285-pound match. Thaddeus Sigmund needed 1:20 to pin Justin Funnmaker at 120 pounds and Jude Stark took care of one of Lakeland’s top wrestlers, Ashton Bremer, in 52 seconds at 126 pounds.
Cory Lindahl (152), Jonathon Bartnik (195), Matt Gebert (132) and Parker Lissner (138) won their matches by forfeit.
Lakeland’s Jose Retana pinned William Bartnik in 51 seconds at 182 pounds. Raider Braxton Weissmiller had a 3-2 lead early in the second period but got pinned in 3:30 by Landon Saglin. Logan Gray-Ives pinned Raider Broden Schilling in 57 seconds in the 106-pound match.
There was a double forfeit at 113 pounds.
“We did our job on what we came to do,” Marcis said of the Lakeland dual. “We didn’t let other factors distract us. There were lineup changes and we had a couple of guys sick. There was some speculation as to who they were going to have at what weight. We just talked about changing our focus to wrestling in the moment, scoring and being aggressive and not worrying about who’s on the other side. They did a good job of that.”
In the night’s first round, Medford had no trouble with an overmatched Antigo squad, winning 66-18.
Losiewicz jumped ahead of Jayson Arrowood 7-0 with a couple of first-period near falls in the 145-pound match and got the pin in 2:54. Lindahl stacked up Levi Binversle for a pin at 2:29, Kawa stuck Maximus Kneeland in 1:56 at 160 pounds, Rothmeier needed just 48 seconds to pin Jack Stronsand at 170 and Weissmiller got the first takedown at the edge of the mat against Cole Vandenlangenberg and, out of the restart, got a near fall and pin at 1:45 in the 220-pound bout.
Medford got forfeit wins from Lissner (138), Dietzman (285), Schilling (106), Sigmund (120), Stark (132) and Gebert (132).
Antigo got a forfeit win from Aidan Kielcheski at 113 pounds. Robby Hagerty pinned William Bartnik in 1:14 at 182 pounds and Samson Smith pinned Jonathan Bartnik in 1:44 at 195 pounds.
Lakeland beat Mosinee 36-24 and Mosinee beat Antigo 48-24 in the night’s other dual meets.
Medford went on to finish fourth s at Saturday’s Arcadia Challenge.