Rhinelander wrestling banquet award winners pose for a photograph following the team’s banquet Sunday, March 8 in the RHS commons. Kneeling is team MVP Tim Fox. Standing, from left to right are JV captain David Schramke, Mini-Machine Award winner Trevor Knapp, Hodag Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee Jim Kreitlow, Hodag Award winner Walker Hartman and most improved wrestler Cole Lehman. (Submitted photo)
3/14/2020 7:35:00 AM Tim Fox named Hodag wrestling MVP
The Rhinelander High School wrestling team concluded its season Sunday with an awards banquet at Rhinelander High School. Five wrestlers received awards from the team for their efforts this season, highlighted by junior Tim Fox, who took home the team's most valuable player award.
Fox went 32-9 on the season and spent most of the campaign ranked in the Wisconsin Wrestling Online state rankings. He was the Great Northern Conference champion at 113 pounds, and both the regional and sectional runner-up in the weight class. He advanced to the WIAA state tournament where he lost to Kettle Moraine freshman Quintin Wolbert in the first round.
"Tim had a good year, made it to the state tournament. He really wrestled his best at the end of the year, wrestled a lot of good competition all year," Hodag coach Paul Ellenbecker said. "It was pretty obvious with him making the state tournament, his leadership really came around this year, his attitude. That made a big difference. We're fortunate to have another year with Tim back. Hopefully this offseason he pushes himself again so that next year he can get on the podium instead of just making it."
Other wrestlers honored included seniors Trevor Knapp and David Schramke, junior Walker Hartman and sophomore Cole Lehman.
Hartman received the team's Hodag Award. He went 35-8 on the season, won the conference title at 170 pounds and finished third at WIAA sectionals, narrowly missing out on the state tournament for the second straight year. Ellenbecker praised Hartman's leadership throughout the season.
"Basically Walker got the award for his leadership up in the (wrestling) room, how he's dedicated to the sport. He's a multi-sport athlete and he's the type of guy that we want all the wrestlers to be like," Ellenbecker said. "Most impressive with Walker this year was his vocal leadership, how he stepped up to the plate and how he was just so much better as the year went on. He did a great job talking to the team and when we were down. He was a tremendous leader and that showed this year."
Knapp received the team's "Mini-Machine" award, which is named in honor of, and presented by assistant wrestling coach Jim Kreitlow. It honors an athlete who has dedicated himself of herself to the weight room during his or her high school career.
"Trevor Knapp really changed his body over the year," Ellenbecker said of Knapp, who went 32-11 on the season won the conference title at 195 pounds and finished third at sectionals. "Trevor had a fabulous year, physically, the way he worked himself out. He looks really good at 195 pounds. He's a senior that we're going to miss next year for what he bought to the table in so many different areas."
Lehman went 11-22 in this first year of competitive wrestling. Ellenbecker said he was proud of Lehman's progression this season, considering his lack of experience.
"From where he started at the beginning of the year, not really knowing what he's doing, to the end of year. He just kept getting better and better as the year went on," he said. "You could see him in the practice room more than anything, how he competes against our guys that have been wrestling for a long time. He's just really stepped up his game and has been getting better. It was kind on an easy choice for the coaches and we have big expectations for Cole going into next year."
Schramke (10-24) received the JV captain's award.
"As a senior, the way he competed, the way he was good to his younger teammates, he did a lot of things for the underdogs," Ellenbecker said.
In addition to the team awards, the Rhinelander Wrestling Club inducted Kreitlow into its Hodag wrestling hall of fame during the banquet. Kreitlow has been with the Rhinelander wrestling program in some capacity for three decades, serving as RHS head coach in the late 2000s and early 2010s before Ellenbecker took over in 2012.
"Jim's been at it over 30 years and he's a guy that eats, sleeps and breathes wrestling," Ellenbecker said. "When I first got here, he was the former head coach and, after talking with him a little bit, he's a guy I knew I wanted on staff. To this day, to me he's your typical hardcore, old-school wrestling guy, that just loves everything about it.
"He loves (the sport). He loves the kids. He's been a great addition to our program for over 30 years. We're just really happy with how everything has turned out with him. We're excited about having him in the hall of fame with the other members we have in. It's going to be cool having him there and it's a well-deserved honor."
Rhinelander finished tied for third in the Great Northern Conference this season and had six wrestlers receive all-conference honors.
"I'm just proud of our team as a whole and it was a lot of fun this year," Ellenbecker said. "I'm really going to miss going to practice. I'm going to miss seeing the guys because it was a lot of fun. The kids were wonderful this year. Their efforts were great and you can't say that every year.
"It was a lot of fun this year and it was a great rebuilding year. Finishing tied for third in the conference feels pretty good, considering what we had at the start of the year. We're pretty excited about that."
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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