Tomahawk wrestlers claim second place in GNC
By Matt Turkiewicz
Last Thursday night, the Hatchet wrestling team faced off against the Medford Red Raiders. Both teams entered the dual at 4-0 in GNC meets and met to determine the conference dual meet title for the second year in a row. Three matchups included two ranked wrestlers at their respective weights at Division 2 and featured two of the top 11 teams in Division 2.
The night started with three JV matches. To start off, Hudson Mattke won a 12-5 over Medford’s Blake Schilling. In the second JV match of the night, Micah Arnott wrestled against Medford’s Eli Mahner. Tied at 4-4 with little time left, Mahner scored an escape and stole a 5-4 decision. To close out the JV action, Tomahawk’s Brayden Jones wrestled against Trevon Drallmeier. Jones came back from an early 8-3 deficit to tie the match at 8-8 and force sudden victory overtime. In sudden victory, Drallmeier got in on a shot and won an edge of the mat scramble to win 10-8 to close out JV wrestling for the night.
To start off the varsity dual, Austin Leinen received a forfeit at Heavyweight to take an early 6-0 lead for the Hatchets. Circling back down to 106 pounds, Medford won a close 4-2 decision to put their first points on the board. At 113 pounds, Chris Bushong met Medford’s Ty Sova. Sova scored an early takedown before Bushong got an escape and threw Sova to his back and gave the Hatchets a first period fall. Lance Knight, at 120 pounds, also scored a first period fall via another cradle. At 126 pounds, Tomahawk’s Luke Knight wrestled Eric Rehbein in a rematch from last year. Rehbein’s scrambling and length held off a late charge by Knight, and he won a 5-4 decision. Medford won another decision at 132 pounds. At 138 pounds, the Hatchets Alex Bishop squared off against Dane Higgins in a match of state-ranked grapplers. Higgins prevailed in a decision and put the team score at 18-12 in favor of the Hatchets halfway through the dual.
Medford scored a fall at 145 pounds to tie the dual 18 apiece. Tom Rigney wrestled state-ranked Honorable Mention Emett Grunwald at 152 pounds. Down by eight in the third period, Rigney forced another stall call on Grunwald and scored an escape to bring the score to 12-6. Rigney then capitalized on a failed throw attempt by Grunwald to score his own last second takedown and bring the final score to 12-8, saving a team point for the Hatchets. Logan Bishop won a 10-9 decision at 160 pounds. Medford won at 170 pounds.
In the second meet of state-ranked wrestlers, Tomahawk’s 11th-ranked Kade Wenninger saw Medford’s 4th-ranked Clay Bowe in another repeat of last year’s match. With Bowe up 4-0 in the third, Wenninger attempted a Granby Roll that nearly sent Bowe to his back. Bowe won the match and gave Medford three more team points. In another repeat of last year’s match, Erik Decker wrestled Medford’s Dalton Krug. Decker put on an offensive clinic and scored the Hatchets a 13-0 major decision. In the feature match up of the night, Tomahawk’s 4th-ranked Heavyweight Tony Matti came down to wrestle defending 220-pound state champion Jake Rau. Multiple shot attempts were taken by both wrestlers, with none of them connecting to finish off a scoreless first period. To start the second period, Rau chose the down position. Rau scored a reversal that Matti countered with an escape to end the second period 2-1. To start the third, Matti chose down. After a tough ride out by Rau to keep the score at 2-1, Medford put three more points on the board to win the dual 33-25 and capture the conference championship.
The Hatchets are looking towards the conference tournament this Saturday, Feb. 8. The tournament will once again be hosted in Medford, with wrestling slated to begin at 9:30 a.m. With a Hatchet win in overall team points, Tomahawk can still claim a part of the GNC championship.
And prior to this weekend’s GNC Championship in Medford, Tomahawk will get one last opportunity to improve on the season as they host Athens tonight (Tuesday) for a non-conference tilt that begins at Hatchet Fieldhouse starting at 7 p.m.