Three team victories were bracketed by a pair of losses for Whitnall High School wrestlers Saturday as they hosted the 16-team Zelinski Memorial tournament.
The Falcons defeated Kenosha Bradford, 37-22; beat Fond du Lac, 51-16; and topped Germantown, 42-31. The team started the day with a 43-24 loss to Beaver Dam and ended it by losing 37-26 to Muskego.
"It was a good day," co-head coach Craig Austin said after the final match. "Our goal was to go at least 3-2, and 4-1 would have made it a great day."
Beating Beaver Dam, while not out of the question, was unlikely from the outset. "Beaver Dam's lineup had ten seniors, we had ten sophomores," said Austin. "We're just too young to beat them."
Rebounding against Bradford essentially saved the day. "That was a tossup match," said Austin. "I was pretty worried going in, but our kids overall wrestled hard and we dominated them pretty well."
The Fond du Lac win was an indicator of how far the young Falcons have progressed this season, according to Austin and co-head coach John Quinlan. Fond du Lac beat Whitnall, 37-34, just five weeks ago. "To beat them by a hefty margin shows that we're getting healthy, and it shows how much we're improving," said Quinlan.
Three Falcons--Anthony Senthavisouk, Nick Monty and Zach Barnhart--were unbeaten Saturday. Senthavisouk, the 106-pound sophomore who is ranked fourth in the state, scored three pins and added two decisions as he improved his team-leading season record to 35-4.
Monty, also a sophomore, took two matches by pins and three by decisions, one of them a major. "A really nice surprise for us today was the performance of Nick Monty," Austin said. "He's healthy now, and it showed. His wins were in some of the swing matches that got us a couple of team wins."
Senior co-captain Barnhart joined Senthavisouk in the team's elite 30-win club, winning once by forfeit and taking four decisions, two of them majors. "Zach's really coming around," said Austin. "He's grown up a lot, and he's really shown good leadership of the team. You can see it paying off in how he wrestled today. I wish we had him for another year."
Ethan Harycki narrowly missed an undefeated medal, pinning two opponents, decisioning two others, but losing a 15-10 decision to a Bradford wrestler to complete the day at 4-1.
Though his record for the tourney was 2-3, sophomore 152-pounder Ryan Olson brought the home crowd to its feet with another of his "Mr. Excitement" finishes. Trailing 10-4 going into the final period against Fond du Lac, Olson pinned his opponent with 28 seconds remaining in the match. It was the fourth time this season Olson pinned an opponent after trailing by a sizable margin.
Other Whitnall wrestlers with winning records for the day included Michael Langenohl, Kevin Seyedin, Joe Price--all 3-2--and John Smith, 2-1.
Merrill, the second-ranked team in Wisconsin, won the overall tournament title for the second year in a row.
An estimated 800 fans attended the 26th annual event. "We were thrilled again," said Quinlan, the tourney organizer. "A whole lot of things can go wrong when you're relying on dozens of volunteers, but it went smoothly. Overall, it was just fantastic. I can't thank enough the people who gave up their Saturday to make this work. I'm really in awe of how the community pitches in.
"We don't have the numbers yet, but I'm sure it was another good day for the Zelinski Scholarship fund," Quinlan added. The event typically raises more than $5,000 for the fund.
- With Pewaukee's loss last week to South Milwaukee, Wednesday's Whitnall-New Berlin meet becomes crucial in setting up a showdown for the conference title. If Whitnall wins for the sixth time in a row in the Woodland Conference, and if Wauwatosa follows suit, the contest between between the two on Jan. 30 at Wauwatosa West will be for the outright conference title. But first New Berlin...