Grzybowski/Gross 3-Peat; Baldwin & Whiting Win TitlesIssue Date: February 28, 2019
3 Cougars Claim Championships, 8 Area Div. 3 Wrestlers Bring Home Hardware
Despite all the history the Coleman Cougars wrestling program has, there are still new heights to be reached.
In front of a Kohl Center crowd filled with former Coleman state qualifiers, place winners, champions, family and other community members, three Cougars won Division III individual state titles over the weekend, including two wrestlers for a record third time.
No Cougar had ever won a state title three times in Coleman green until Saturday, when first cousins Koltin Grzybowski and Caleb Gross each topped the medal stand in their senior season, capping off successful careers with their third state championships.
Grzybowski won the 113-pound weight class once again in dominant fashion. He started with a 20-6 major decision win over Cameron's Reminton Ladd (42-9), followed it up with a 20-5 tech fall win over Fennimore's Luke Blair (33-9) and put the icing on the cake with a 17-1 tech fall against Weyauwega-Fremont's Carter Greening (40-8) in the state championship.
"This year was about scoring as many points as I possibly can and this tournament the past two days has demonstrated that," Grzybowski said. "I scored 57 points. That's crazy in my mind. I don't know anyone that really does that."
Gross took a slightly different path to his third championship. He beat Mineral Point's Danny Pittz (38-6) in a tiebreaker, 4-1, to start his weekend. After a 9-0 major decision against Kewaunee's Jack Severin in the semifinal, he rode out Fennimore's Alex Birchman (33-12) in his classic style for a 3-0 win where he never pulled away but always felt in control.
"Two totally different wrestlers," Coleman coach Kevin Casper said. "Koltin is a scoring machine. He wins by being active and being aggressive and scoring on his feet. Caleb is more of a control wrestler, good in all three areas. He's good on his feet and just dominates in the fashion of being in total control."
Since the duo were kids wrestling in the living room, they've been practicing for this moment. Now, after countless hours spent in the wrestling room, they've lived it three times.
"It's pretty much everything to me," Grzybowski said. "When we're in that room and I can come to practice every day and know I have someone just as good as me to push me and they have the same goal as me and to be family on top of it, that's great. It's awesome."
Of course, this year, they weren't alone atop the medal stand. A year after losing in the state championship to a four-time state champion, senior Jake Baldwin (145) always looked poised to capture a state title.
With three wins over the weekend, he did just that. He beat Brockwood's James Gjefle (36-11), Cadott's Nelson Wahl (30-9) and Cochrane-Fountain City's Max Dascher (31-3), all by decision.
"Last year, it was a four-time state champion that's obviously a beast," Baldwin said. "I had my doubts about that one, but this year, some people might say "I can't believe it happened,' but I believed in myself that I could do it for a very long time."
With all three in relatively low weight classes, they've all been able to push each other for a long time.
"I can't complain in the practice room. I've got two great competitors in there," Gross said.
The three aren't alone. While many schools send one or two wrestlers to state and many across the state send none at all, Coleman sent 10 grapplers to the Kohl Center over the weekend.
Senior Brock Martinson, who was a tournament favorite in the 285-pound weight class coming in, finished third in his class.
After pinning Ladysmith's Wade Stanger in four minutes, 25 seconds, he got tossed by Darlington/Black Hawk's Leif Bredeson in the semifinal.
Martinson, who weighs over 40 pounds less than he's allowed in his class, ran into a big thrower in Bredeson who Casper called a "legitimate 285-pounder." He estimated Martinson was giving up between 40 and 50 pounds in the match.
"That kid was a thrower and Brock got caught up in it and tried to throw him. That wasn't the right time to be upper body with the kid," Casper said. "We probably should have been more defensive and just stayed in good position, but that's what happens at heavyweight. One move can cost you and that's what happened."
Still, Martinson (38-6) battled back. He beat 45-3 Tanner Gaffey of Saint Croix Falls in a 3-1 decision and pinned Athens' Mitchell Gore in 2:20 to take third despite wrestling injured.
"A lot of kids would have just tossed in the towel," Casper said. "I couldn't be more proud of how he came back. He wanted to end his career on a winning note and he basically wrestled on one arm and still got the job done."
Chance Gruber (106), Tyler Blanchard (160) and Spencer Karban (220) each took sixth in their respective weight classes. Gruber and Karban each went 2-3 on the weekend, while Blanchard went 1-3. Karban is a senior, while Gruber and Blanchard will each have additional shots at returning to Madison in future seasons.
"To get to the state semifinals for him was outstanding," Casper said of Karban, who he said is a smart wrestler. "I don't think many people out there would have ever thought that Spencer would get to where he was and that's a credit to him."
Karson Casper (132), Bryce Karban (152) and Shamus McLain (170) did not place, though Karban did get an opening round win, missing the podium after a 6-4 decision loss to 45-4 Aiden Vandenbush of Random Lake and a 3-1 sudden victory to Stratford's Derek Marten.
McLain finished the year with a 28-3 record, Karban went 41-10 and Casper was 37-13.
Win or lose, Coleman had a lot of support from teammates and fans throughout the stadium.
"This year we brought a big crowd, so that was pretty cool," Gross said. "Every time we got our hands raised, we had a big crowd cheering for us, so that's pretty amazing."
Elsewhere in DIII, Florence/Niagara's Tristen Mascarette made his second state appearance and his first appearance on the medal stand, taking sixth in the 120-pound weight class.
He beat Boyceville's Nate Stuart (36-3) in a major decision and topped Fennimore's Mason Lull in a 5-0 decision before running into three tough opponents and finishing the weekend 2-3.
After a junior trip to state in which nerves got to him a bit, Mascarette was ready for the moment in 2019, ending his career with a medal.
"This year, we practiced hard, he had some exposure from last year, he knew what he was coming into. Mentally, he was focused, he was ready to go," coach Jeff Conroy said. "Coming from a small town, we don't have this kind of venue where the stands are loaded, so that's a completely different experience for someone like him."
Mascarette said he wished his semifinal loss to Stratford's Manny Drexler (45-5) in the semifinal would have had a different outcome, and he lost his final two matches of the weekend by pin, but all in all, he can hang his hat on a pretty successful career.
"I'm self-motivated," he said, thanking his teammates, coaches and family. "I'm not from a big school with a bunch of trainers and everything and coaches. I'm just a small-town kid and I feel like I'm doing well."
Gillett/Suring's Sam Lemens was pinned in his only match of the weekend as he took on Cumberland's Reid Olson (44-4). Lemens finished the year 35-8.
Whiting is O. Falls First Frosh State Champion, Claims D2 152 lb. Title
Oconto Falls wrestler Clayton Whiting is one heck of a freshman.
Whiting became the first freshman to win state in the history of a storied Oconto Falls wrestling program and he did it at a tough weight class, topping the Division II 152-pounders.
In the quarterfinal, Whiting beat Ellsworth's Sawyer Hamilton (38-10) by a 3-1 decision. Whiting won the semifinal 7-3 over 40-5 Tristan Massie of Barron and he dominated Amery's Mike Smith (41-4) in the final to top the medal stand.
"It's kind of crazy," Whiting said of being the first freshman to win state for Falls. "Everybody's like, "he's just a freshman, it should be nothing,' but I'm a whole "nother different person out on the mat. I can change people's minds like that."
Panthers coach Marc Kinziger said despite Whiting's youth, the coaching staff doesn't have to tell him much when he's out on the mat.
"Out on the mat is his comfort zone," Kinziger said. "When he's out there, that's where he wants to be. There's not a lot of coaching you do when you're out there with a kid like that. He knows what he wants to do. We've got a second set of eyes to reaffirm what he's thinking and seeing."
Whiting said he wants to be a four-time state champion. He's got the history of Oconto Falls behind him, too.
He said he spoke with former Panther state champion Nate Trepanier, who went 47-0 as a junior and now wrestles at Lindenwood University.
"I got some information from Nate Trepanier about mentally being out there on the mat all the time, thinking right, don't focus on the fans or anything, just focus on your match and do what you do," Whiting said, though he admitted wrestling in front of the crowd and receiving his medal was "amazing."
Whiting finished the season 48-3.
Junior teammate Tyler Budz did not place in his second trip to state, losing by 7-6 decision to Campbellsport's Cade Heisdorf (36-12) in his first match at 126.
"He wrestled one heck of a tough match, we thought. Tyler has been up and down a little bit this year, but the last few weeks, he made a commitment to get better and it showed," Kinziger said. "He got a lot of improvement. Three weeks, I would've never thought he would have been down here wrestling."
Budz finished the season 25-18. He was seeded fifth at regionals, crediting an attitude change for his changing fortunes toward the end of the season.
"I made a lot of improvements," he said. "The beginning of the year, I went through some struggles, now, looking back, I'm happy I changed my attitude a little bit. My attitude wasn't the greatest. My goal was to make it to state this year and I'm glad I'm here."
Marinette's Reese Holder did not place at 195, losing by pin to Ellsworth's Logan Melstrom (28-9) in his first match.
Marinette coach Jason Champagne said Holder started the match well but ended up on his back and couldn't make it out of the first round.
Nevertheless, Holder achieved his goal of making it to state in his senior season.
"Reese had an exceptional season for us. He was 2nd on the team in wins (31) and scored the 2nd most team points (120) for us," Champagne said. "One of his goals was to make it to state and he accomplished that. We're proud of the way Reese matured over the last three years, and we look forward to him coming back to wrestle with some of our young up-and-comers. His name will be cemented on the Al Peterson state qualifiers board forever. I know a lot of good wrestlers who never got the chance to step on the mats in the Kohl Center. Reese gets to say he's one of those people."
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