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WIAA WRESTLING - COUGARS CLAIM THREE STATE CROWNS

Grzybowski, Gross and Salewski Win State Titles; Five Coleman Wrestlers Claim Div. 3 Medals

For the first time since 1964, Coleman has three individual state champions following the finale of WIAA Division III Individual State Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 25, with Koltin Grzybowski, Caleb Gross and Donovan Salewski each topping their respective weight classes.

The last time Coleman had three wrestlers top the podium was 1964, when Jerry Pillath, Jerry Champagne and Bob Rysewk each claimed individual gold. This year's trio brought Coleman's illustrious wrestling program to a total of 32 state champions.

Grzybowski (106), a sophomore, was Saturday's first state champion, as he started the championship round off with a bang, pinning 41-4 Manny Drexler of Stratford in just one minute to claim gold.

"I just had to bring it all, and leave it all out there," Grzybowski said after the one-minute win. "It's a good season. I really enjoyed it, and I'm happy with my results." Grzybowski ended the season with a 40-3 record.

Gross (113) earned his gold medal with a 5-2 decision win over Shoreland Lutheran junior Lucas Schevikhoven, who entered the championship match with a 41-1 record. Gross took a 2-0 lead by the end of the first period, stretching it to five with one period to go.

"We've been grinding all year. It came down to the state finals, and you just do what you did in practice," Gross said. "You'll come out on top."

Despite numerous calls to report to the opposite end of the stadium for the medal presentation, Grzybowski stayed on the opposite end of the gym to watch Gross, his cousin and teammate, wrestle. "That's my cousin. I love him to death. I just wanted to see him win," Grzybowski said.

The two will also join their grandfather on the list of Coleman state wrestling champions. "It's something that will never be taken away from those kids" There's nothing more special than that. It's awesome," said Coleman Head Coach Kevin Casper. Jerry Champagne, one of the three Coleman wrestlers to win state in 1964, is the pair's grandfather.

"With three individual state champions, it's fantastic," said Casper. "What a way to end the year."

When asked if his expectation coming into the state tournament was a first-place result, Salewski (285), responded "No doubt. I wasn't going home with anything less." He followed through on Saturday night, pinning 43-5 Tyson Sommer, a junior from Athens, in 3:49.

"It means a lot to me"To be able to write history in Coleman wrestling is unbelievable. It's the best feeling in the world right now. It's so unreal," the senior said after he received his first-place medal. "You dream of it, ever since you're a little kid, to be a state champ" It's just unbelievable, and my dreams came true."

Salewski did not qualify for state competition as a junior. "I wasn't really being aggressive as I wrestled. I changed that. I stepped my game up half way through the season," he said.

He pointed to the Pulaski invitational as a turning point in his season. In Pulaski on Jan. 28, Salewski lost two of his four matches, including one to Oconto Falls junior state qualifier Dan Ausloos via pin. "I didn't have the greatest day at the Pulaski invitational. I told myself from there on out I wasn't going to lose. I didn't lose after Pulaski," Salewski said.

Casper noticed the difference as well. "It was like he turned on a switch in the last couple weeks and wasn't going to be denied," he said.

In addition to the three state champions, Coleman senior Jordan Blanchard took third at 170, while sophomore Jake Baldwin claimed the sixth spot at 132 and sophomore Billy Ganter (126) did not place following a first-round loss.

Blanchard dropped his semifinal match to back-to-back state champion Helton Vandenbush of Random Lake, who is 94-4 over the last two seasons. Other than that 4-3 decision loss, however, Blanchard was dominant, pinning two opponents and winning via a 12-1 major decision.

Blanchard pinned his quarterfinal opponent, Boyceville's 32-16 Justin Malean, in just 76 seconds. Following the loss to Vandenbush, he went on to take a 12-1 major decision over Bonduel's Jacob Banker, who finished the year 35-7 and took Blanchard to sudden victory at sectionals, where Blanchard prevailed 3-1.

Blanchard, who medaled for the fourth time in his Coleman career, said of his career "It's been crazy. It's had its high points; it's had its low points. It's been a roller coaster. In the end, one match doesn't define a career. It's the collection of matches."

Blanchard immediately ran to his dad in the crowd following his pin in the third-place match over Saint Croix Falls' Luke Clark, who lost just three times all season. "That's 12 years of hard work. It's emotional," Blanchard said. "He asked me in first grade if I wanted to start wrestling. I didn't even know what it was. Who would have known that it would have brought this to us? It's been amazing."

Blanchard, who qualified for state competition as a 113-pound sophomore and 145-pound junior, said the jump to 170 pounds "was definitely a hard thing to do."

The senior also became Coleman's winningest wrestler in the history of the program. "It's something to be very proud of," Casper said.

Ganter's loss came via 4-3 decision to Laconia's Zachary Foth, 41-11 at the time.

Baldwin said his goal for next season is to win state, but he said this year taught him some things about what it will take to get there. "A lot of stuff to work on. The biggest thing I saw is I need to get stronger," he said.

"I'm very proud of our wrestlers and what they accomplished this past weekend. They made their community proud, their parents proud and their coaches proud," said Casper.

Many Coleman wrestlers were complimentary of the team's coaching staff following the tournament.

"It's not like we have a factory in Coleman that just spits out wrestlers with good mindsights and everything," said Blanchard. "That comes from Coach Casper, it comes from the youth, middle school, and parents that coach the kids."

"They've helped me tremendously," Salewski said. "The coaches are unbelievable. They're there for you every step of the way, whether it be school or anything that's going on. They understand, and they'll help you through it. They honestly feel like a few more dads to me."

Also in Division III, Oconto senior Aiden Wusterbarth and Florence/Niagara star freshman Shamus McLain did not place, with each winning their opening round match before exiting with records of 1-2.

Wusterbarth won on Thursday over Reedsville's Josh Schuh, an 8-4 decision, then losing to state champ Trevor Wanek of Fennimore by 6-4 decision and dropping a 1-0 decision to Laconia's Zachary Foth, the same wrestler that knocked out Coleman's Billy Ganter. Wusterbarth ended his senior season with a 36-7 record.

McLain, who finished the season with a 45-5 record, started the tournament strong with a 2-0 decision victory over Brillion's Ben Kasten, sending him home with his sixth loss of the season to go with 38 wins. He dropped his next two matches, however, including one to eventual tournament champion Justin Tollefson of Fennimore, who finished the year 45-6, and sixth place finisher, Guenther Hebbe of Princeton.

McLain, who is only 14 years old, said his offseason goals are to get stronger and faster, while also improving his technique.

"I'm a lot better than I wrestled down here," McLain said after being knocked out of the tournament Friday afternoon. "Guess I'll have to prove it next year."

"You make the state tournament at 14, at 145 pounds, that's quite a feat," Florence/Niagara Coach Shane McLain, who is also Shamus' father, said of the freshman's performance. "He worked seven days a week to get here. When everyone else was out fishing and hunting, he was wrestling. He gave up every Saturday and every Sunday, and he worked very, very hard to get where he got."

Both have high expectations for next season. Shamus said his goal for next season is to be a state champion.

"I'm thinking I'm going to see multiple state championships out of him," his dad said.



Oconto Falls Sends Four To Medal Stand; Ash Brings Home Gold, Trepanier Silver

Saturday was a night of big ups and downs for the Oconto Falls senior wrestling class at the WIAA Division II Individual State Championships in Madison, where they placed four seniors on the podium.

Bryce Ash capped off his career by winning the 145-pound weight class, while last year's 145-pound state champion Nate Trepanier ended his high school career with disappointment, taking second in the 160-pound championship on a controversial 5-4 decision.

Ash beat 31-10 Laken Duerschmidt of Two Rivers in the first place match by 11-5 decision.

"A lot of nerves," Ash said, describing his mindset when he stepped out onto the mat for the first-place match. "I just kept putting it through my head that it's just another match. I blanked the crowd out, blanked everybody else out, except for me and my coaches. I just wrestled another match like I have all year," Ash said.

The decision in the 160-pound title match came as the officials granted 42-4 River Valley sophomore Shane Liegel an escape point as time expired in the match, ending Trepanier's quest for back-to-back state championships and leaving him with a 45-2 record for the season.

"I was just hoping it would go my way. I don't think that was the right outcome, but there's nothing I can do about it. I didn't do enough during the match to get the points I needed," Trepanier said of the match, while Dave Brasier, one of Oconto Falls' three wrestling coaches called the ending a "bad call."

"His goals were nothing but being a two-time state champion," Coach Marc Kinziger said. "It's going to take him a while to deal with it. I'm sure knowing his character, knowing the kid" I'd like to say a setback like this always makes you better. You learn from these mistakes."

Trepanier will wrestle next season at Division II Lindenwood University, which is located in St. Charles, Mo., just northwest of St. Louis.

Beyond Ash and Trepanier, seniors Brice Delzer (170) and Mac Winkler (182) each medaled for Oconto Falls, with both taking fifth at their respective weight classes. "They wanted to medal, and I'm proud of them for doing that," Coach Kinziger said of the team's fifth-place finishers.

Oconto Falls wrestlers Tyler Budz (106), a freshman, and Dan Ausloos (285), a junior, each did not place. Budz lost his opening round, while Ausloos got a win in the first round before dropping his next two.

In total, Oconto Falls had seven seniors this season.

"It's really good support. It's nice having them. We've been wrestling since we were little, and it's a great team atmosphere to be around," Trepanier said of the senior group.

"Sharing this moment with these guys is a dream come true," Winkler said. "It's a band of brothers in the wrestling room all those years. It's a really great feeling."

"They etched their place in our history. They got two state champions out of it" They've done some good things," said Coach Kinziger.

Ash said he knew the team would be good as soon as they came into high school. "When we were freshmen, we weren't the best team, but I knew once it came senior year, we'd be a good team, and we are," he said.

"That group has been working together and pushing each other since they were just starting out. That's kind of sad to see that group of guys go," said Coach Brasier. "You know what they've done for all the other guys around them."

In other Division II action, Peshtigo senior Cam Lepkowski was knocked out in the first round by Prescott's eventual fourth-place 195-pounder, junior Ty Sanford, who entered the tournament with a 38-3 record.

"Not much you can do with one arm," Lepkowski said following the match. The Bulldog senior was visibly favoring one arm, following a separated AC joint in his shoulder suffered during sectional competition last weekend. He injured the shoulder on an illegal slam that put him through to state, but said the shoulder was definitely affecting his performance.

"I know I could have beat that kid," Lepkowski said of Sanford. "He was in the right position, and I just couldn't really do anything. With one arm, you can't really escape from bottom or work a shot."



Forty-Two Individual Wrestling Champions Crowned In Madison

The 74th Annual State Individual Wrestling Tournament produced 42 champions Saturday evening at the Kohl Center in Madison.

Stratford boasts the most championships won this year with four, including a trio of three-time champions in Division 3. A.J. Schoenfuss (35-5) won his third straight championship with a 4-3 decision in the final of the 120-pound weight class. Jeremy Schoenherr (17-0) earned his third straight title and an undefeated season with a 5-1 decision in the 138 final. Kamren Bornbach (39-1) captured a three-peat at 220 with a 9-4 decision in the 220 final. Mason Kauffman returned to the award stand for the second time with an 18-7 major decision at 152.

Boyceville and Coleman produced three individual champions in Division 3, and River Valley won three titles to lead all programs in Division 2. Stoughton was the only program in Division 1 to win multiple crowns with two.

Fourteen of the 27 former champions entering the tournament added titles, including six that celebrated their third titles. In addition to Schoenfuss, Schoenherr and Bornbach, the three other wrestlers to win their third championship came in Division 2. Brock Bergelin (37-1) of Denmark won for the third straight season with a 9-0 major decision in the final at 120. Sam Stuhl (46-0) of Ellsworth capped an undefeated season at 132 to win his third gold medal with an 8-6 decision. Devin Bahr (38-0) of West Salem/Bangor also completed a perfect season with a 14-1 major decision in the title bout at 152.

The list of two-time champions in Division 1 are Brandon Klein (52-3) of Stoughton at 132, Jaden Van Maanen (49-0) of La Crosse Central at 145, Jackson Hemauer (49-1) of DeForest at 182 and Jacob Raschka (52-2) of Pewaukee at 195.

The lone two-time champion in Division 2 is Bryce Bosman (46-3) of Luxemburg-Casco at 113. Two wrestlers claiming their second titles in Division 3 are Brock Schlough (43-1) of Boyceville at 160 and Helton Vandenbush (46-1) of Random Lake at 170.

Seven of the 16 undefeated wrestlers to start the tournament completed their perfect seasons, including two that have won their first title. In addition to the undefeated multiple champions, Eric Barnett (45-0) of Hortonville captured the Division 1 championship at 106 with a 7-4 decision in the final, and Dustin Hatfield of River Valley finishes the season 41-0 at 126 in Division 2 following a 4-2 sudden victory.


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