Conference champions: Hatchet grapplers earn first place at GNC meet
By Autumn Peissig
RHINELANDER – On Saturday, Jan. 23, the Hatchet grapplers traveled to Rhinelander for the Great Northern Conference Tournament. The Hodags hosted the tournament in their new dome. At each weight class, there would be five rounds of wrestling throughout the day.
Freshman Presley Gutbrod, wrestling at 106 lbs., had three byes, a win, and a loss on the day, putting him at second place. Next, weighing in at 113 lbs., Addison Peissig took third place, receiving a Conference Honorable Mention. He had a bye, won two matches, and lost two matches.
Representing Tomahawk at 120 lbs., freshman Ryan Larson put up a good fight but lost three and had two byes. Veteran wrestler Blake Felser had a pretty successful day; he had a bye, won three, and lost one match over the course of the day. He earned himself a spot on the podium at second place.
Hatchet grappler Hudson Mattke came in at 132 lbs. He had one bye, one win, and three losses. Micah Arnott of Tomahawk had some great matches, but ended the day with a bye and four losses. At this point, the Hatchets were in need of some more wins if they wanted to win the tournament.
Hatchet Mason Evans wrestled at 145 lbs. and had a very successful day of wrestling; he ended the day with two byes and three wins, putting him on the top of the podium and earning a First Team All-Conference Award.
Logan Bishop arguably had the most exciting match of the tournament. In the fifth round, the Hatchets led the tournament with a team score of 271, and second-place Medford was trailing with a score of 253. There was a lot of tension between the rival teams. With the meet coming to an end soon, Bishop was matched up against Medford’s Emett Grunwald at 152 lbs. In the first period, Bishop established his dominance of the match by securing a 5-0 lead. In the second period, Grunwald scored a two-point reversal. Bishop was able to counter with a two-point reversal of his own, ending the period 7-2 in favor of Bishop. With tension building in the new dome, due to the importance of this match on the team score, the third period was an important one. Halfway through the third period, Bishop imposed his will on Grunewald, turning him to his back and pinning him. With the slap of the mat, there was an eruption of excitement from Tomahawk fans. Bishop went undefeated on the day, earning himself a conference championship title.
Tomahawk’s Braydon Jones competed at 160 lbs. He had a tough day of wrestling in a tough bracket and ended the day with five losses. Freshman Ethan Trayes had a bye, one win, and three losses wrestling at 170 lbs. Senior wrestler Isaiah Scheffler, 182 lbs., had two byes, two wins, and one loss, putting him on the podium at second place.
Kade Wenninger wrestled at 195 lbs. He had a very successful day and won every single match. One of the most exciting matches of the day was between Wenninger and Rhinelander’s Ben Sinclair. The long-lasting rivalry between the two athletes had the fans, coaches, and teammates on their feet. The first period started off slow, ending with a score of 0-0. The second period was close, but Sinclar took the lead, 5-6. But, in the final period Wenninger got the victory; the final score was 8-7.
Junior Marcus Matti also had a very successful day, becoming a Conference Champion. Wrestling at 220 lbs., Matti had a close match with Landon Saglin of Lakeland. Matti won the match with a final score of 3-1.
Wrestling at 285 lbs., Erik Decker impressed. Not only did he win all of his matches, he pinned all of his opponents for the day.
With all of the hard work from the athletes, the Hatchets were able to bring home a trophy as Conference Champions. Final team scores were as follows: in 6th place Lakeland with 212 points, in 5th place Mosinee with 229 points, in 4th place Rhinelander with 255 points, in 3rd place Antigo with 290 points, in 2nd place Medford with 382, and in 1st place Tomahawk with 425.
The Hatchet grapplers were set to host Regionals on Saturday, Jan. 30.