The Rhinelander High School and Lakeland Union High School wrestling teams honored Tom Handrick Thursday night in the inaugural Hammer match at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium. It was also senior night for the Hodags' lone senior Eric Grulke who had a stellar pin to lead RHS to a 45-36 victory over the Thunderbirds.
"He has shown me he has the will and want to be a true champion," said Coach Nathan Piasecki while honoring Grulke. "He's been through ups and downs this year, but most of them I've seen have been ups. I can't say enough about Eric's character as well; he's a great student and will never say a mean word to you. I wish him great luck the rest of the season, and I expect great things. The sky is the limit for him."
It was a special night for both teams as Handrick assisted coaching both teams in the past. Lakeland alumni and head Coach Nathan Piasecki honored Handrick and Grulke before the match. Handrick unexpectedly passed away last spring. Most of Tom's family was also present at the match, each Hodag wrestler shaking Mrs. Handrick's (Kelly) hand after.
"I have to give Tommy credit for the successes I have had, he was the type of guy that was always there for you, whether up or down," Piasecki said. "He was the greatest cheerleader when you were up and when you were down he always found a positive. I respected Tommy and his hard work and how much of a fan he was of wrestling."
The Hodags had to battle back from being behind on Thursday night and would set up a perfect situation with Grulke in the spotlight for the final bout. And with the dual on his shoulder;s Grulke would deliver and earned a first period pin over Brady Edwards to give the Hodags a nine-point win.
Grulke controlled Edwards in the first period and had three take downs before he got him on his back and earned a pine with only nine seconds left at the 170 pound bout.
Rhinelander built an earyl 27-6 advantage in the dual but Lakeland went for 30 unanswered points but the Hodags finished the night with three straight pins to secure the nine-point win.
RHS was down by nine points coming into the final three bouts, but there was no worry with the strength of their middle weights. Walker Hartman earned a pin at 1:06 in the first period over Tanner Wildes at 152-pounds to pull Rhinelander within three at 33-36.
Freshman Gavin Ostermann at 160 pounds followed and used a reversal late in the second period to gain control and pin Hunter Kanzelberger. Ostermann's pin would set the stage of Grulke and gave RHS a 39-36 advantage and momentum down the stretch.
Rhinelander also won a number of earlier matches including a pair overtime victories from Connor Lund and Hugh Wiese. First Lund at 195 had to battle back against Henry Evenhouse after being down 2-4 to earn a pin in extra minutes. Evenhouse got a take down with seconds remaining in the first period to take an early 2-0 lead.
Going into the third period it was tied 2-2 before Lund was called for a penalty and allowed an escape and fell behind 4-2. But with nine seconds left Lund tied the match up again after a takedown in the third to force extra time. And only 13 seconds into the extra minute session Lund pinned Evenhouse.
In a very similar match, Wiese battled back-and-forth with Sawyer Duir at 113 to eventually earn a 10-8 decision. Wiese held an early 4-2 lead before Duir tied the match up 6-6 and would get a reversal late in the second period to take a 7-6 lead. Wiese got an escape with 19 seconds left to tie the match 8-8. In overtime Wiese secured the 10-8 decision after a take down 14 seconds into the extra minute.
The Thunderbirds lower weights (Ben Nemcek, Nazar Lenz, Tyson Coy, and Jason Hilgart) collected four pins over Rhinelander in their comeback.
Trevor Knapp of Rhinelander at 220 would secure an early pin for the Hodags and Alex Olson also added a forfeit win for RHS at 285. Tim Fox also added a pin for Rhinelander at 106 with 37 seconds left in the first period.
The Hodags will be back on the mat Saturda when they take part in an invite at Stevens Point. RHS will return to their Great Northern Conference schedule Thursday when they travel to Mosinee.
The Rhinelander High School wrestling team hosted a Great Northern Conference dual and would fall to Tomahawk 39-30 on Thursday. Despite the Hodags winning 7 of the 10 contested matches they didn’t have enough depth in their lineup to get the job done and fell short to the Hatchets at the Jim Miazga Community Gymnasium.
Rhinelander handed Tomahawk 24 of their 39 points on the night including the opening three bouts where RHS forfeited at 132, 138 and 145. The Hatchets would take the early 18-0 advantage before rallying back in the next four matches.
The Hodags pulled back within two points after winning the next four bouts. Walker Hartman put Rhinelander on the board with a 13-0 major decision win over Marcus Matti at 152. Senior Eric Grukle used an escaped and takedown in the third period to defeat senior Wyatt Wenninger who was ranked 9th in 160 in Division 2. Grukle used late momentum to earn a 3-1 decision to upset Wenninger.
Freshman Gavin Ostermann would follow at 170, pinning Ryan Skees at 1:35. Ben Sinclair of the Hodags continued the run and used a third-period escape at 182 to defeat Kade Wenninger 6-5.
Tomahawk would then respond winning at 195 when Connor Lund was pinned in at 3:06 by Erik Decker. But the Hodags picked up another win at the 220 bout when Trevor Knapp earned a pin over Austin Leinen in just 39 seconds.
Toni Matti of the Hatchets would earn a 3-1 win at 285 over Chase Redmond after an escape and takedown in the third period. It also gave Tomahawk a 27-22 lead in the dual.
But that is where the tables turned when the lightweight matches came up and Rhinelander was unable to fill their lineup, which proved to be the difference down the stretch.
Rhinelander would take their only lead of the night with only two matches left after a pair of wins at 106 and 113. First, Tim Fox controlled the bout at 106 against Blake Felser where he earned a technical fall in the second period to tie the match up 27-27.
Hugh Wiese would give the Hodags' a 30-27 edge in the dual after recording at 2-1 decision over Gage Robinson at 113. Wiese battled through all three-periods highlighted by an escaped in the final period to pull ahead by one.
A forfeit for Rhinelander at 120, credited to Lance Knight of Tomahawk would give the Hatchets a three-point advantage going into the final bout. Tomahawk's Luke Knight, who is currently ranked 12th in Division 2 at 126 was paired up against Will Swanson. Knight got an early take down and secured a pin at 1:47 as the Hatchets earned a nine-point dual win.
Rhinelander fell to 0-2 in the Great Northern Conference standings and will be back in action Saturday when they take part in the Bluejay Challenge in Merrill.
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