Rhinelander’s Colton Krueger has his arm raised after winning the 220-pound championship match in a WIAA Division 1 wrestling regional at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School Saturday, Feb. 10. The Hodags had five regional champions and finished third in the team standings. (Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
2/13/2018 7:33:00 AM RHS takes 3rd at wrestling regionals Hodags place first in 5 classes
Rhinelander's group of wrestling seniors continued its impressive run toward Madison on Saturday.
The Hodags' five ranked seniors all won regional titles and Rhinelander had eight official sectional qualifiers in all as they finished third in a WIAA Division 1 regional at Wisconsin Rapids.
Reuben Guzik (113 pounds), Tyler Olson (120), Jacob DeMeyer (145), Alec Kurtz (195) and Colton Krueger (220) all waltzed into the sectional round this Saturday with regional titles. All 12 wrestlers the Hodags brought to regionals won at least one match.
"Five champs at regionals is a pretty big deal. It's basically the Wisconsin Valley Conference and us. It's a pretty good feeling," Hodag coach Paul Ellenbecker said. "Overall, for wrestling with 12 guys and wrestling how we did, we did pretty well. A couple of fifths. We just came up short in a few areas, but to get eight guys through, and technically nine, that's a pretty good day."
Tim Fox (106), Walker Hartman (138) and Eric Grulke (160) also advanced to sectionals by virtue of finishing in the top four in their weight classes. Ellenbecker said he also expects sophomore 285-pounder Trevor Knapp to get a special exemption into sectionals. Knapp finished fifth in his bracket Saturday, but Ellenbecker said one of the top four finishers in the regional may not be able to compete at the sectional level.
Guzik and Olson had similar paths to regional titles, winning their first and final matches by pin. Guzik needed only 49 seconds to stick Marshfield's Gabe Pugh in the 113-pound championship while Olson finished off D.C. Everest's Freddy Lehrke in 33 seconds in the 120-pound final. Neither started as a No. 1 seed, but finished the day in the top spot.
"We kind of fought for seeds and Reuben getting the three seed right away and Tyler started as the one and got dropped down to the two seed, that got us a little angry right away," Ellenbecker said. "It was nice because the kids did what they're supposed to do. If you think your the best, you go out and prove it. They both, Tyler and Reuben, went out and dominated the brackets."
DeMeyer, ranked second in the state and seeking his fourth state tournament appearance, drew a first round bye at 145 before pinning Merrill's Casey Hoffman in the semifinals. DeMeyer knocked off seventh-ranked Nolan Hertel of Marshfield by 4-0 decision in the championship.
"Jacob had a tough match in the finals but it's tournament season and when it gets to be tournament season Jacob shows up," Ellenbecker said. "Jacob controlled the match the whole time and put himself in a good position. Going into next week, he should make his fourth state appearance, should everything go accordingly."
As he has all season, Kurtz pinned his opponents with stunning quickness and regularity. He needed only 2 minutes, 29 seconds to dispatch his three opponents on his way to the title at 195.
"Alec didn't get challenged today. He pinned all three guys and looked dominant again," Ellenbecker said, noting that Marshfield positioned two ranked wrestlers who could have challenged Kurtz in different weight classes.
One of those wrestlers, Alex Brost, was pinned by Krueger 3:15 into the championship match at 220.
"The Marshfield kid is a good wrestler, but Colton has just been so solid all year and has wrestled the weight class all year. He had a chance to put the match away and he did just that," Ellenbecker said.
Tim Fox finished third at 106, losing the runner-up match to Wisconsin Rapids' Damien Bennett in overtime. Hartman pinned Merrill's Brody Gehrke in the first period to take fourth at 138 and earn the final sectional spot at that weight. It was a similar story for Grulke, who pinned Merrill's Wyatt Koehler for fourth at 160.
One Rhinelander senior, Scott Fox, fell victim to the wrestleback rule. Fox was pinned in his first match by D.C. Everest's Isaac Hagenbucher, fought through the wrestleback to fifth place, but when Hagenbucher lost the third-place match he was automatically awarded fourth by virtue of his win over Fox earlier in the day.
"It's kind of bittersweet that he could go out with an win, but no wrestleback," Ellenbecker said. "Scott meant a lot. One thing you'll never question with Scott is his effort. He's always putting in the best effort every chance he gets. I'm glad he got to wrestle for us the last four years."
Another senior, Alex Monk, finished sixth at 152. Hunter Greyhair was sixth at 182.
The sectional qualifiers will compete at Wausau West this Saturday with the top two finishers in each weight class earning trips to the WIAA state tournament Feb. 22-24 at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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