Although the Rhinelander High School wrestling team did not earn another Great Northern Conference title, they were able to have a strong individual showing at the Division 1 (Region 2) tournament held at Merrill High School on Saturday. The Hodags finished the day, advancing seven wrestlers to sectionals including three champions. As a team, Rhinelander finished second behind Marshfield.
The Hodags three champions on the day included Jacob DeMeyer (145), Alec Bess (160), and Alec Kurtz (182). Also qualifying to advance to the River Falls WIAA sectionals was; Eric Grulke, Tyler Olson, Reuben Guzik, and Colton Krueger.
DeMeyer was back in action at his normal weight of 145 after earning the GNC title at 152 pounds and remains undefeated after the weekend. DeMeyer pinned Carter Bayer (Merrill) and William Waldron (Wausau West) to advance to the finals.
In the finals DeMeyer was than able to defeat Bergh Diebel (Wisconsin Rapids), the ninth ranked wrestler by a 12-3 major decision.
At 160, Bess had a bye in the first round, and would rally to pin Michael Olson (Wausau West) in just 57 seconds. And following suit in the finals Bess was able to make another quick pin over 10th ranked Bentley Schwanebeck-Ostermann (Marshfield) in 1:04 to earn the title.
And at 182, Kurtz started strong pinning Kevin Geurink (D.C. Everest) in just 14 seconds and would also pin Alex Brost (Marshfield) in 3:17 in the semifinals. In the finals, Kurtz earned an 8-4 decision over Jordan LaRue (Wausau West) for the title.
Krueger who has been wrestling 220 and 285 all season, decided to drop to 195, where he suffered his first loss of the year. Krueger pinned Reece Ament (Wausau East) and David Lummis (Stevens Point) to advance to the finals. And he would be pinned in 58 seconds to Sam Stroik (D.C. Everest).
Guzik at 113 pinned Carter Napiwocki (Wausau West) at 3:03 and would earn a 15-6 major decision of Ben Diny (Wausau East) to advance to the finals. Guzik then battled against No. 1 ranked Brady Koontz (Stevens Point) and fell in an 18-8 major decision to finish second.
With a first round bye, Olson at 120 then defeated Tanner Kanable (Marshfield) in a 6-4 sudden victory decision to make it to the finals. Olson then fell to No.1 ranked Dylan Koontz in a 21-8 major decision to finish second overall.
Grulke at 138 started the day with a pin over Nicolas Henkens (Wausau West) in 1:22 before falling in a 9-4 decision to Dylan Trigg (Stevens Point). And in the third-place match, Grulke defeated Brody Gehrke (Merrill) in a 10-7 decision.
Looking ahead to sectionals, all seven Hodags have a good shot at advancing to the WIAA State tournament. At sectionals if you win your first match, you are put into a four-person bracket and two advance to state. The seven Hodags will be back in action on Saturday when they take part in the D1 sectionals in River Falls with a shot at state on the line.