Rhinelander’s Jacob DeMeyer controls Crandon’s Breed Shepard in a 160-pound bout during a non-conference wrestling match at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium Thursday, Nov. 30. DeMeyer, a three-time state qualifier, won the match by technical fall. The Hodags won the dual 63-9. (Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
12/2/2017 7:30:00 AM Hodags cage Cardinals RHS grapplers pick up four pins in 63-9 win over Crandon
The Rhinelander High School wrestling team celebrated a bit of the old and the new Thursday as it kicked off its 2017-18 campaign.
Returning state qualifier Alec Kurtz recorded a pin, as did freshmen Walker Hartman and Tim Fox, and the Hodags defeated Crandon 63-9 in a non-conference dual at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium.
Tyler Olson had a pin as well for Rhinelander, Jacob DeMeyer recorded a technical fall and Eric Grulke recorded a major decision, as the Hodags won six of the eight contested bouts on the night and benefitted from five forfeits. Neither team put up a grappler in the 138-pound class.
"Getting a nice win to start the year kind of gets people back in the wrestling mood," Hodag coach Paul Ellenbecker said. "There were some good matches. Crandon (is) obviously a smaller school, short on numbers early in the year, but they have some good wrestlers. I was happy with the way our kids competed tonight. We had a lot of positives considering it's early in the year."
Two of Rhinelander's returning state qualifiers started the season on a strong note. Kurtz needed only 55 seconds to pin Crandon's Dylan Bukovic at 195 pounds and DeMeyer, who has already made three trips to the Kohl Center in Madison, got a takedown 13 seconds into the third period to stop his 160-pound match against Breed Shepard with a 17-2 advantage.
A couple of first-period escapes were all Shepard could manage as DeMeyer built a 10-2 lead after 10 minutes and controlled the second to bring the lead to 15-2.
"I don't think people realize the talented kid Jacob DeMeyer wrestled," Ellenbecker said. "Jacob had his way with him, but that kid's a very, very talented wrestler. I think a lot of people thought that was going to be a really big match. Jacob gets up for that stuff."
Reuben Guzik, the third of Rhinelander's returning state tournament participants, received a forfeit victory at 126 pounds.
Hartman, making his varsity debut at 145, trailed Bradley Shepherd 3-2 after the opening period, but rode Shepherd most of the second, eventually turning and pinning the Crandon sophomore with 19 seconds remaining in the second. Fox needed 3:18 to stop fellow freshman Hutson Kane at 106, and was leading 11-0 at the time of the fall.
"Walker wrestled a kid who's wrestled varsity a couple years and got a pin for us," Ellenbecker said. "Little Timmy, he's already got the confidence and the swagger. He knows it and he's going to keep working and back it up. He's not afraid to mix it up with anybody. He's going to be a heck of a 106-pounder all year."
Tyler Olson, wrestling up a weight class at 132, trailed 2-0 to Crandon's Jakob Hoyt in the first match of the night but controlled the second period with a reversal and a near fall before finishing Hoyt at the 3:42 mark.
Grulke dominated the first two periods at 152 against Crandon's Riley Anderson, leading 11-0, but was put to his back in the third period and nearly got pinned himself before scoring a reversal and taking a 13-3 major decision.
"I'm glad Eric won, but I'm sure it was an eye-opening experience," Ellenbecker said of Grulke's near mishap. "He'll learn from it. We expect big things from Eric all year."
Colton Krueger (220), Chase Redmond (285), Isabella Anderson (113) and William Swanson (120) all earned uncontested wins for Rhinelander.
Crandon's John Doane pinned freshman Ben Sinclair 1:06 into the 182-pound bout. Senior Ty Flannery recorded the Cardinals only other victory. He escaped Scott Fox's grasp at the start of the second period, which proved to be the difference in a 1-0 decision at 170.
Ellenbecker said the Hodags eased into their schedule, which picks up right away at Pulaski Saturday - one of four demanding invitationals on the Hodags' December schedule. He said Thursday's contest was good for his team to get out some of its first-match jitters and anxiety.
"Kids come in here and see the wrestling people again and the town. We don't have the huge crowds like basketball does, but we have pretty good support in this town and the kids are rewarded for good efforts," he said.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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