High school wrestling: Oconto Falls wins home invite

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Six Panthers take first, three more place second
By: 

Greg Bates, Times Herald Correspondent

Marc Kinziger had a good feeling going into Saturday’s Brawl in the Falls that his wrestling team would do well.

The night before, the Oconto Falls wrestlers downed Bay Port, 44-26, to get the guys ready for their annual tournament.

The Panthers didn’t disappoint Kinziger, their tri-head coach, as six guys had first-place finishes and three others took runner-up. The strong showing helped Oconto Falls win the 10-team invitational.

“It started last night; we had a very good match with Bay Port,” Kinziger said. “We didn’t want that one to not get in, because it was the first one coming back (from holiday break). We went to the Bi-State Classic, and we ran into some really good competition, and (our wrestlers) were wondering about it. But when they came out last night and what they did kind of reflected, ‘Hey, you’re going out against the best of the best in the upper Midwest.’ And then you come back to home; they could see how much better they were.”

Oconto Falls scored 305.5 points, followed by Bonduel (245.5) and New London (234.5). Gillett/Suring (59) took eighth, and Lena/St. Thomas Aquinas Academy (55) was ninth.

“It’s always good to get a first place when you see the kids come out and wrestle good and hard be rewarded for it,” Kinziger said. “It was a pretty dominant final round there, because it was close going into that final bout. I think New London was actually within three or four (points) of us, then obviously they slipped in that round. And we put on the gas and Bonduel put on the gas, and we had enough to stay ahead of them.”

Winning titles for Oconto Falls were: Jager Eisch (113), Collin Schindel (120), Bodee Woods (138), Clayton Whiting (152), Trevor Pankratz (160) and Aidan Stary (170). Jaden Ganter (106), Brendan Konitzer (113) and Elijah Zielinski (220) each placed second.

“Everybody’s working hard in the wrestling room; nobody’s slacking off,” Whiting said. “Everybody’s going 100 percent. That’s why we’ve got so many guys in the finals.”

Whiting was named the invite’s most valuable wrestler. The freshman, who is ranked No. 3 in Division 2 by Wiwrestling.com, had a first-round bye before scoring three straight first-period pins to get to the championship match.

Wabeno/Laona’s Derek Moravec, ranked No. 5 in Division 3, put up a great fight in the title match. Leading 2-1 in the third, Whiting got a reversal and pulled out a 4-1 victory.

“It’s big for me,” Whiting said, about taking first place. “It’s a good accomplishment. Trying in the wrestling room every day to get better, getting ready for these tournaments. It’s a great experience.”

Kinziger was impressed with how well Pankratz wrestled. He had three pins and a decision win heading into the title match at 160. In the finals, the senior scored a 9-0 major decision.

“He looked tremendous today,” Kinziger said. “I’m going to say Trevor and Aidan (Stary) were notable because they both have been wrestling out of weight this season. They’ve been wrestling up. We had to make some room in the lineup, and that happened today.”

Lena/STAA’s top finish on the day belonged to Richard Feick, who placed second at 285.

“I felt like I wrestled pretty well,” Feick said. “According to other players, they also said I wrestled very well for a sophomore, which is unbelievable to them.”

Feick had two first-period pins, a bye and a decision win heading into the title match against New London’s Travis Kuhnke. Kuhnke, ranked No. 4 in Division 2, scored a pin at 4:34.

“I knew I was in for something, but I didn’t know if I would be winning or losing,” Feick said. “I was surprised that I got to the third (period) because most of his (opponents), he’s pinned them in one minute.”

Gillett/Suring had just four wrestlers compete in the invite.

Sam Lemens was the top finisher, taking second at 145 pounds. He went 4-1 on the day. Brody Zahn came in third at 220 pounds.