Dan Ausloos punches ticket to state tournament

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4 Panthers compete at WIAA D2 Sectional

Greg Bates, Times Herald Correspondent

Oconto Falls High School’s Dan Ausloos (285 pounds) defeated Omro’s Mitchell Potratz 8-3 in the quarterfinal at the WIAA Division 2 sectional tournament at Oconto Falls on Saturday. (Photo by Josh Thompson)

Dan Ausloos had just been upset in the sectional semifinals.

One more loss and the Oconto Falls senior wrestler’s career was over.

Down in the dumps after the defeat, Ausloos received some words of encouragement from Panthers tri-head coach Marc Kinziger.

“I grabbed him, I said, ‘Your goal is a state championship. If that’s your goal yet, that loss might be good for you, because you’ve got to learn how to win close matches,’” Kinziger said. “I said, ‘You are a better wrestler than that boy, but that kid wrestled and dictated his match and you did not wrestle your match. You let him dictate the match. We can’t have that anymore.’”

Point taken. Lesson learned.

Ausloos won his next two matches in convincing style to place third at 285 pounds in a WIAA Division 2 sectional on Saturday at Oconto Falls to earn a trip to state.

“It kind of woke me up a little bit,” said Ausloos about his second-round loss to Two Rivers’ Damien Bullock.

Ausloos was one of four Oconto Falls wrestlers who competed at sectionals, but the only one to place in the top four. Jager Eisch (106 pounds), Collin Schindel (120 pounds) and Noah Stary (152 pounds) finished their seasons coming up just short of their ultimate goal.

“Happy with the way they wrestled — wrestled with heart, wrestled hard,” Kinziger said. “Just wasn’t their day.”

Tri-head coach Dave Brasier was happy to get a wrestler into the state meet but disappointed it couldn’t have been more of his guys.

“At least it’s a ticket down there,” Brasier said. “It’s not what we’ve gotten used to over the last few years, but it’s kind of a down year and we’ve got to start rebuilding.”

Ausloos (33-3) will compete at state for the second straight season. Last year, he won his first match before dropping his final two matches and didn’t place.

Getting another shot at state is what Ausloos worked for all season.

“Obviously it’s very special for him,” Brasier said. “But he’s been kind of our leader and the most successful guy we’ve had on the team for the whole season and I feel that’s really important for him to be able to cap that off by getting another trip to Madison.”

In the first round of sectionals, Ausloos – who is ranked No. 3 in the state at 285 – downed Omro’s Mitchell Potratz by an 8-3 decision in the first round. That set up the loss to Bullock, ranked No. 9, who came up big late in the match for a 5-2 victory.

“He’s a good wrestler. I wasn’t shocked,” Ausloos said. “I just didn’t wrestle my match.”

Had Ausloos won that match, he would have taken on the state’s top-ranked wrestler in his class, Denmark’s Josh Frerk, for the sectional title.

“Everybody was getting ready for that match, and I can’t know it, but maybe Dan was looking ahead,” Kinziger said. “I think that’s what most people are going to say — that’s the obvious thing.

“I think he was finally starting to feel a lot of the pressure.”

That pressure certainly mounted after the loss. Ausloos now needed two wins for a return trip to the big stage.

Ausloos pinned Mosinee’s Jose Mohr in 1 minute, 59 seconds, and followed that up by pinning No. 10-ranked Travis Kuhnke from New London in 2:40.

Ausloos was extremely aggressive in the third-place match, jumping out to a 6-3 lead before the second-period fall.

“I really knew I had to get after it,” Ausloos said. “It was do or die. There was no taking a break on top or anything.”

Eisch (27-13) won his opening match by downing Nekoosa/Assumption/Port Edwards’ Nathan Gellerup with an 8-4 decision. Wrightstown’s Kaiden Koltz then scored a 7-0 victory over Eisch in the semifinals. Little Chute’s Noah Kilgas ended Eisch’s season with a 6-0 decision.

“One thing with Jager, we were excited where he was in the bracket,” Kinziger said. “Couple weeks ago, he did really good against the Wrightstown kid, so that’s who he ended losing to. If he wins that one, he’s going (to state). When I looked at the break, I thought Jager had a chance.”

Eisch was hampered late in the season with a concussion. He was forced to sit out a week and a half in late January and early February, which didn’t help his postseason performance.

“With a lot of experience, it’s a wrong time of the year to get an injury,” Kinziger said. “You can’t take time off, but it is what it is.”

Eisch came into the program this year as a highly-touted freshman. He lived up to the expectations and will be the team’s rookie of the year, Kinziger noted.

Schindel (22-19) was wrestling well coming into sectionals. However, he was pinned in 1:57 by Two Rivers’ Cody Holmes, the defending state champ and No. 1-ranked guy in his weight class, and lost a 13-4 major decision to Lakeland’s Dejay Nordrum.

“He was at a stacked weight class, he had the returning state champ on his side of the bracket and those are hard things to come back from,” Kinziger said.

Stary (26-10) lost his opening match 5-1 to Berlin’s Preston Morgan. Unfortunately for Stary, who was coming off a knee injury, it was his only chance to wrestle. It was a tough way to end a career.

“Good career, but he’s someone I would have thought we’d see at Madison,” Kinziger said. “I thought he would have been someone on the podium. The injuries certainly kept him down and he wrestled out of weight — probably should have been at 145.”

Ausloos will get his chance to wrestle at the Kohl Center in Madison on Thursday and hopefully beyond. For the other Oconto Falls wrestlers who will return next season, there is a lot to build off of after a difficult year for the Panthers program.

“We thought we had a little better nucleus this year than we did, and we lost some kids to injuries and kind of some tough breaks all the way through,” Brasier said. “I’m hoping we used up all of our bad breaks this year for a while and kind of really start rebuilding.”