Whitnall wrestlers in every weight class recorded at least one win last night as the Falcons took a pair of Woodland Conference victories. The co-op team comprised of wrestlers from Cudahy and St. Francis lost, 62-15, to Whitnall, and the Falcons beat host Pius XI, 70-11.
Blake Leslie, Dylan Kellner, Nick Monty, Ryan Olson, Zach Price and Ethan Harycki pinned their Cudahy opponents in the opener at the Pius fieldhouse. Joe Price and Zach Barnhart scored major decisions, while Tyler Rabideaux, Mike Langenohl and Josh Rinka won by forfeit.
Anthony Senthavisouk, who usually wrestles at 106 pounds for Whitnall, failed to make weight. Competing at 113 pounds, he was beaten 9-5, just his second loss of the season.
Whitnall had anticipated a tougher contest against Pius, a member of the Classic Eight Conference prior to recently joining the Woodland. The Classic Eight is perennially one of the strongest in southeastern Wisconsin.
But the Falcons jumped out to an 18-0 lead and were never headed, scoring a season-high 70 points while giving up 11.
Leslie, Monty, Olson, Rabideaux, Langenohl, Harycki, John Smith and Joe Price won with pins; Kellner, Barnhart and Senthavisouk won by forfeit; and Zach Price added a major decision.
Wednesday's contests were the 13th and 14th dual meets in the 15 days since the season opened for the Whitnall wrestlers. "That's a lot of wrestling in a very little time," said Falcon coach John Quinlan. "We've already seen a lot of different teams, a lot of different styles. With eight wins and a couple of close losses, the coaching staff is generally happy to see some progression," he said.
"When we're matched against teams that are mainly freshmen and sophomores, like we are and like tonight's opponents are," Quinlan said, "we've been matching up well."
The matchups are expected to be considerably more difficult Friday night and Saturday when the team participates in the annual Stech Invitational at West Allis Central. Participants, besides the highly-regarded host school, include area powerhouses Muskego, Mukwonago, Franklin and Hartford.
"It's going to be rough," Quinlan predicted. "There are no easy ones in that group. By Saturday night, some of our guys will have had 20 matches for the season, so we should be able to see exactly where we're at, and it ought to expose what we need to improve on."
John Smith scored a pin last night, and so did I. If you were there, maybe you did, too.
John's a big kid. Not lineman big or power forward big. Truth is, John's got the physique of a snow cone. Walk through the halls of Whitnall High School between classes and you'll never pick him out as the athlete.
But John Smith wants to be an athlete. And when you weigh around 250 and it's not really a muscular 250 and you're a sophomore in high school, there aren't a lot of options. Wrestling has a class for guys who weigh more than 220 pounds. Most of them are bigger and stronger than John Smith. Some of them win scholarships to major universities where their weight and strength are valued by football coaches. And some of those that don't go on to school wind up as bouncers, maybe at a nightclub near you.
But John Smith isn't going to be anchoring the offensive line at Madison, just like he's not going to be checking ID's at a club.
John joined the wrestling team a year ago, as a freshman. Whitnall has no one else at his weight class, so it came down to this: forfeit a match and give up six points, or send John Smith out and if he doesn't get pinned, the team's better off even if he loses.
So that was John's role: Don't get pinned, and don't get hurt. But last year in his few matches, and again this year in all of them, John Smith did get pinned, and he did get hurt. A leg injury, a shoulder sprain, a nasty infection on his forehead where it frequently gets rubbed into the mat. So John has rarely been able to go all out in practice.
But he's always been there, ready to go, ready to try not to get pinned. John Smith knows how to win. It's just the body, it's not always capable of doing what you tell it. Even when you're 15 years old. But if you're John Smith, you keep trying. You can't win the lottery if you don't buy a ticket.
And last night at Pius XI High School, three-and-a-half minutes into his match, John Smith found himself in the unfamiliar position of being on top of his opponent, and he knew exactly what to do and he did it. For all of us who have kept trying to accomplish something we maybe shouldn't have tried in the first place, the big kid with the unlikely name of John Smith did it.
For all of us.
Thanks, John Smith. You're an athlete.