Wrestling: Gillett/Suring's Sam Lemens qualifies for state

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Oconto Falls wrestlers Clayton Whiting, Tyler Budz qualify for state

Morgan Rode, sports@newmedia-wi.com, and Greg Bates, Times Herald Correspondent

Gillett/Suring’s Sam Lemens, top, holds down Shiocton’s Jared Jahnke during the 138-pound weight class third place match at the Division 3 Bonduel Sectional Shawano Community High School on Saturday. Lemens went on to win a 7-5 decision to earn a trip to state. (Times Herald photo by Morgan Rode)

Oconto Falls wrestlers Clayton Whiting, left, and Tyler Budz will end their seasons competing at the 76th Annual WIAA Individual Wrestling Championship Tournament. (Contributed photo)

With the likes of Coleman, Stratford, Weyauwega-Fremont and Bonduel having several individual wrestlers at the Division 3 Bonduel Sectional, which was hosted by Shawano Community High School on Saturday, the competition was stiff.

Placing in the top three within a weight class to earn a trip to state appeared to be a rather daunting task for the few individuals representing the small co-ops of Gillett/Suring and Lena/St. Thomas Aquinas Academy.

Just as he has all season, Gillett/Suring senior Sam Lemens rose to the occasion, posting a 3-2 record to place third in the 138-pound weight class and earn a spot at the 76th Annual WIAA Individual Wrestling Championship Tournament.

“It means that all the extra work that I’ve put in — like I’ve been wrestling almost every day for the past two months, Saturdays and Sundays when I don’t have tournaments — it means all that hard work paid off and made it all worth it,” Lemens said of making it to state.

The senior opened his day with a convincing 17-0 technical fall victory over Elcho’s Mason Rusch. The win not only earned him a spot in the semifinals, but also marked the senior’s 100th career high school victory.

Lemens faced Pittsville’s Beau Merritt in the semifinals, dropping a 7-0 decision.

With his season and high school career on the line, Lemens’ belief that he could get to state stayed strong, and it paid off in a big way.

Lemens pinned Manawa’s Bryan Griffin in the consolation semifinal to put himself in the third place match, where the winner would punch their ticket to state and the loser would have their season end.

The Gillett/Suring wrestler battled his way to a tough 7-5 decision win over Shiocton’s Jared Jahnke to earn his spot at state.

“He’s the most dedicated athlete that I’ve seen for many years,” Gillett/Suring coach Jeremy Krueger said of Lemens. “His biggest goal was to get down to state, and now he is on his way there. I’m extremely proud of him.”

Because of the way the rest of the 138 weight class shook out, Lemens had the opportunity to take on Stratford’s Jacob Heiden for second place. Heiden ended up pinning Lemens in 3 minutes, 13 seconds to keep hold of second place.

Lemens, who enters state with a 35-7 record, will step foot on the state mat on Thursday, taking on Cumberland’s Reid Olson (41-3). The winner will advance to Friday’s quarterfinal against Darlington/Black Hawk’s Kolbe Ubersox (36-4).

Now that Lemens has accomplished his goal of reaching state, he set a new goal for himself.

“My goal is to get on the state podium,” he said. “I’m just going to wrestle my best and hopefully that can happen.”

Mike VanDenElzen also represented the Gillett/Suring co-op at sectionals.

VanDenElzen opened his day in the 170-pound weight class with a daunting matchup against Stratford’s Trevor Dennee, who had lost just once all season. Dennee pinned VanDenElzen in 17 seconds.

VanDenElzen then faced Manawa’s Eli Yoder in a consolation semifinal, with Yoder coming away with a 12-2 major decision win.

Lena/STAA had two wrestlers competing at the sectional — Alex Decoursin (132) and Richard Fieck (285).

Decoursin just missed out on a state berth after placing fourth in his weight class.

Decoursin lost by technical fall to open his day but bounced back with a pin over Auburndale’s Isaiah Hasenohrl in just 1:33. With a shot at state on the line, Decoursin was pinned by Coleman standout Karson Casper.

Fieck only wrestled one match on the day, losing by pin to Weyauwega-Fremont’s Austin Bartel.

Bonduel Sectional

Team scores (plus any other local teams): 1. Coleman 196; 2. Stratford 168; 3. Weyauwega-Fremont 87; 4. Bonduel 68; 5. Edgar 55; 6. Athens 54; 7. Manawa 37; 8. Shiocton 33; 9. Pittsville 32; 10. Wabeno Area/Laona 24; 14. Gillett/Suring 13.5; T17. Lena/STAA 7.

Whiting takes 152 title at Wrightstown

As Clayton Whiting jumped up on the mat, raw emotion took over.

A big smile. A fist pump. The Oconto Falls coaches were elated in the background. Whiting was a sectional champion.

His victory in the 152-pound title match at a WIAA Division 2 Wrightstown Sectional on Saturday happened in the most exhilarating way possible.

“A lot of emotions go running through my head — happy, excited, proud of myself going through that match and never stopping,” Whiting said. “It was amazing.”

Whiting, a freshman, trailed Luxemburg-Casco’s Nathan Ronsman 3-1 late in the third period. With 22 seconds remaining, the two wrestlers started in a neutral position. Time was running out on Whiting.

“Twenty-two seconds, I was thinking he had to shoot at 15,” Oconto Falls coach Marc Kinziger said. “We were thinking maybe get a stall and tie it up because that’s a hard kid to take down clean.”

Whiting (45-3) went for the win. He locked up Ronsman and took a shot to earn a takedown and near fall with just four seconds on the clock.

“I was like, holy cow, I’ve got to ride him. I’ve got to stay on his hips and stay behind him,” Whiting said. “Then I grabbed his arm somehow and pulled him right to his back. I was like, oh, a near fall. I was like, yes. It was so crazy. Everything was going through my mind like a hundred miles per hour.”

With Whiting on top of Ronsman as time expired, Whiting had pulled off a 6-3 win.

Not bad for a freshman, who earned his trip to state and a first-round bye by claiming the sectional title.

After all the hoopla died down following Whiting’s big victory, Kinziger shared a word with his wrestler. He told him to keep his eye on the prize and not have a letdown at state because Whiting could very well face off against Ronsman one more time this season. Since the two are on opposite sides of the 152 state bracket, they could meet with the state title on the line.

“Me and my dad have been talking, just focus one match at a time,” Whiting said. “Worry about that first match and then we’ll go onto the next one after that first match is over.”

Whiting wasn’t the only Oconto Falls wrestler to punch his ticket to state Saturday. Tyler Budz, a junior, had a solid day on the mat and placed third at 126.

“He did a good job,” Kinziger said. “He came a long way. I jokingly said to him, ‘You were like the fifth seed at regional, not bad.’ He had some rough spots throughout the year, but it looks like he’s doing good at the right time.”

This will be Budz’s second trip to state. He made it as a freshman at 106 and lost his lone match.

“I didn’t improve all that much last year, so I wanted to get my name out there back at state,” Budz said.

Budz (25-17) cruised to the championship match at sectionals by winning his first two matches. Then he ran into two solid wrestlers in Two Rivers’ Cody Holmes and Freedom’s Koy Murphy. Budz was pinned by Holmes in 1 minute, 3 seconds before Murphy earned a 13-2 major decision over Budz.

“Last year, they dominated me and I got a little better this year,” said Budz. “That’s an improvement.”

Senior Collin Schindel (120) had a shot at getting to state but came up just short. In the third-place match, Schindel (32-10) was pinned.

Sophomore Aidan Stary (170) was pinned in his only match at sectionals. Sophomore Elijah Zielinski (220) was beaten in both of his matches on the day.

Budz will be on the mat Thursday evening, taking on Campbellsport’s Cade Heisdorf (35-10). Whiting’s first match will take place Friday, when he takes on either Ellsworth’s Sawyer Hamilton (37-8) or Chilton/Hilbert’s Gaven Lisowe (24-7) in a quaterfinal matchup.

Wrightstown Sectional

Team scores (top 10): 1. Freedom 90.5; 2. Luxemburg-Casco 86.5; 3. Wrightstown 83; 4. Denmark 77; 5. Two Rivers 76; 6. Nekoosa/Assumption/Port Edwards 51; 7. Little Chute 50.5; 8. Seymour 48.5; 9. Oconto Falls 37; 10. Winneconne 36.5.