The 2017-2018 Rhinelander High School wrestling team season, was one to add to the books. Not only did the Hodags regain the Great Northern Conference title this season, but they finished the season with five individual regional titles and three sectional titles and sent five grapplers to the 2018 WIAA State Meet. Rhinelander battled through a rigorous Division 1 regional against Wisconsin Valley Conference opponents and were led by a core group of seniors. Here is a look back at the teams' successful season.
The Hodags went in the GNC meet in first place after they won a 48-22 conference dual against defending GNC champs, Medford at the end of January. RHS raced out to a convincing 33-3 and never looked back in the victory.
Rhinelander would regain the GNC title and marked their fourth crown in the past five years. RHS also had five individual champions and six other wrestlers earned top-three finishes in the GNC Meet held at Lakeland Union High School.
Last season, RHS was upset by Medford in the GNC race and they would make sure that wouldn’t happen again this season. The Raiders and Hodags were tied for first place about halfway through the first round of the GNC Meet. But Rhinelander finished strong and would rally for a 42-point victory with a total of 393 points. Antigo edged Medford by 10 points for runner-up.
Seniors Reuben Guzik (113), Tyler Olson (120), Jacob DeMeyer (145), Alec Kurtz (195), and Colton Krueger (285) all won individual GNC titles to lead the Hodags to their fourth GNC title in the last five seasons.
Early Non-Conference Success
The RHS wrestling team had a rigorous non-conference schedule especially early in the season. The Hodags' not only competed but had great success through the month of December when they battled in four non-conference invitationals; Pulaski Duals, Bay Port Battle on the Bay, the Marty Low Classic (Fond du Lac), and the Northern Badger Classic (River Falls).
First in the beginning of December, RHS finished 3rd/7 at the Pulaski Invite and continued to improve even against tough competition. They then finished sixth at the Bay Port Invite with a field of 25 teams and also took sixth in Fond du Lac out of 24 teams. And at the end of December Rhinelander finished 4th at the River Falls Invite out of 44 total teams.
Not only did the team have success in their non-conference schedule but they had a pair of standout seniors earn individual titles. DeMeyer and Kurtz each won titles in their weight class at the Battle of the Bay. While Kurtz also finished first at the Marty Loy and DeMeyer charted another win at the Northern Badger.
The Hodags' were led by a core group of seven seniors throughout the season; DeMeyer, Scott Fox, Guzik, Krueger, Kurtz, Alex Monk, and Olson. Rhinelander earned a 44-25 win over Antigo on senior night and also marked a milestone win for one senior. Krueger joined teammates; DeMeyer, Kurtz, Olson, and Guzeik in earning 100-career wins.
All seven of the Hodag seniors earned all-conference honors, while Guzik, Olson, DeMeyer, Kurtz, and Krueger all took home individual GNC titles. And all five the individual GNC champion seniors also qualified for state. DeMeyer, Kurtz, and Olson all won sectional titles while Guizk and Krueger earned runner-up at sectional to earn a trip to state. Three of the five qualifying seniors also placed in the top-five at state to close their high school wrestling careers.
Two of those seniors also made Rhinelander wrestling history this season. DeMeyer now holds the Hodags' career wins record at 162. While Kurtz also set the single-season pin record with 48 pins this season.
All five seniors who advanced to the 2018 WIAA Division 1 State tournament held at the Kohl Center in Madison, qualified to compete in the second day. And three of the five would go on to earn top-five finishes to close out their stellar high school season.
DeMeyer reached the state semifinals for the second consecutive year and would fall to Drew Scharenbrock of Sun Prairie who went on to become the state champion. DeMeyer would go on to finish third at state at 145 pounds. DeMeyer would finish the season with a 47-2 record and an impressive 162-20 record throughout his high school career.
In very similar fashion, Kurtz also had to work his way through the wrestleback bracket and made it the placement rounds where he also finished third at 195. Kurtz finished his senior season with a 48-2 record.
Guzik at 113 also ran into eventual state champ Eric Barnett of Hortonville who went undefeated this season. Guzik fell to Ashwaubenon's Noah Leisgang before rallying to back to earn a 7-4 decision over Milton’s Mason Dutcher to finish fifth place at state. Guzik finished his senior season with a 38-12 record.
Olson and Krueger both advanced to the consolation bracket but would fall Friday morning in the second day of competition. Both seniors did not place but made a great run. Krueger finished his senior year with a 37-9 record while Olson went 41-8.
The RHS wrestling team will lose five state qualifiers for next season and two additional seniors to graduation. Despite losing a core group of seniors, the Hodags will bring back sectional qualifiers; Tim Fox, Eric Grulke, and Walker Hartman as well as all-conference wrestlers Trevor Knapp and Hunter Greyhair. The Hodags' know they have large shoes to fill with the voids, but are optimistic about the future and will strive for another GNC title.
The Rhinelander High School wrestling team sent five seniors to the 2018 WIAA Division 1 State tournament, and finished with three top-five finishes to cap off their stellar season and final high school meet at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Jacob DeMeyer and Alec Kurtz each finished their season placing third in their brackets at state. While Reuben Guzik finished fifth overall. Colton Krueger and Tyler Olson also advanced to state, but both lost Friday morning in the first round of the consolation bracket.
In the opening round on Thursday afternoon, DeMeyer defeated senior Zach Gordon (Holmen) in an 8-1 decision. In the second round Thursday evening, DeMeyer found himself up against Great Northern Conference rival Brandon Lucht of Antigo. DeMeyer cruised to a 12-2 major decision before falling 5-1 to senior Drew Scharenbrock (Sun Prairie). Scharenbrock went on to win his second state title and finished the season with an impressive 51-0 record.
Saturday in the wrestleback round, DeMeyer edged senior Brett Von Ruden (Sparta) in a 3-2 decision to advance to the third/fourth place match. And in the third-place match, DeMeyer found himself facing Lucht for the third time this season. DeMeyer ended his high school career with a 9-0 major decision win over Lucht to earn third place.
DeMeyer would finish the season with a 47-2 record and went 162-20 throughout his high school career. He also was also able to finish one position higher than last season at state and also marked the best Rhinelander finish at the WIAA state tournament since 2005 when Eddie Stefonek earned runner-up at 152 pounds. Kurtz
At 195, Kurtz won his opening round Thursday afternoon and pinned Kyle Bowens (Kenosha Bradford/Reuther) at 3:31. In the Thursday evening match, Kurtz was placed in the wrestleback after falling in a close 7-5 decision to Alex Mischka (Kimberly).
Friday Kurtz made his way through the wrestlbeback and would make short work of senior Derek Polczynski (Arrowhead) and pinned him in just 50 seconds. He would then fend off senior Josh Nowak (Kettle Moraine) for a 2-1 decision and made it the placement rounds.
Kurtz would then pine Adam Jones (South Milwaukee) only 19 seconds into the second period Saturday morning and would advance to the 3rd place match in a rematch against Mischka. Kurtz turned the tables after falling earlier in the tournament and earned a physical 3-1 decision over Mischka to earn third place at 195.
Overall Kurtz went 48-2 his senior season and also finished his high school wrestling career as Rhinelander's all-time pin leader with his other accomplishments.
Guzik started the day strong with two straight wins in the opening rounds; first pinning Jake Stritesky (Badger) only 16 seconds into the second period. The second win was against Michael Parker (Slinger) in close 10-9 decision. He then fell in a 15-0 technical fall to junior Eric Barnett (Hortonville). Barnett, a Unviersity of North Carolina recruit went on to win the 113 D1 title and finished the year with a 46-0 record.
Saturday morning, Guzik was looking to push for a third-place finish, but was majored 12-2 by Noah Leisgang (Ashwaubenon). But still in the placement rounds, Guzik rallied back strong and finished his senior season with a 7-4 decision over Mason Dutcher (Milton) to finish in fifth place. Guziik would finish this season with a 38-12 record. Olson
At 120 pounds, Olson was unable to advance to the placement rounds. After winning his opening match with a 6-4 decision over senior Sam Winski (Waterford), Olson would fall to runner-up Dominic Dentino (Arrowhead) to be put in the consolation bracket. Olson would then finish his run at state after falling to Edward Wilkowski (Watertown) by technical fall. Olson would finish his senior year with a 41-8 record.
Krueger was also unable to join his teammates in placement rounds, and fell in his opening match. Brock Danielski (Appleton North) defeated Krueger by a 12-4 major decision to send him to the consolation bracket. Krueger would then fall Friday morning to senior John Wright (Oak Creek) in a 9-4 decision. Krueger finished his senior season with a 37-9 record.
All five seniors have made a huge mark on RHS wrestling program and helped lead the team to three Great Northern Conference championship titles and also added an impressive 10 WIAA state appearances.
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