The Rhinelander High School wrestling team would regain the Great Northern Conference title on Saturday, charting their fourth crown in the past five seasons. The Hodags finished the GNC meet with five individual championships and six other wrestlers recorded top-three finishes at Lakeland Union High School.
Last season, Rhinelander was upset by Medford, and they would be sure it wouldn't happen again. RHS was led by a dominate senior class and would earn the title outright.
The Raiders and Hodags were tired for first place about halfway through the final round, but Rhinelander finished strong and would cruise to a 42-point victory with a total of 393 points in the conference. Antigo snuck by Medford by 10 points, for runner-up with 351 total points. Lakeland (297), Tomahawk (280), and Mosinee (181) rounded out the GNC teams.
Seniors Reuben Guzik (113), Tyler Olson (120), Jacob DeMeyer (145), Alec Kurtz (195), and Colton Krueger (285) all won individual GNC titles. While fellow senior Scott Fox (170) would finish in a three-way tie for first, but placed third after tie-breaking rules. Fox edged out Xavier Burgess 4-3 of Lakeland in the opening round. But Korbin Krueger (Antigo), Burgess all went 4-1 and Fox was the only without a pin.
Tim Fox (106) was the only Hodag to earn second place finish on the day. After leading 7-4 in the third period, Fox gave up a reversal to Chase Kmosena (Mosinee) and gained a penalty point for stalling. Kmosena used the momentum down the stretch and would earn a 13-7 overtime win in the championship match. Walker Hartmann (138), Kyle Kuester (160), Hunter Greyhair (182), and Trevor Knapp (220) all placed third for Rhinelander.
It was grind until the end, as Rhinelander, Antigo, and Medford were all battling toward the front most of the day. The Hodags were actually tired with Medford 294-294 after the 138-pound championship match.
DeMeyer helped spark momentum down the stretch for Rhinelander after taking on Andy Poetzl (Medford). DeMeyer had to be looked at by the trainers at the end of the first period after getting hit in the face. That did not slow DeMeyer down, if anything gave him an edge in the second period, where he pinned Poetzl halfway through and earned his fourth GNC title.
Overall, Rhinelander went 10-4 in the final round, but the biggest edge proved to be holding a 5-1 edge on head-to-head matches against Medford. One of those head-to-head battles was Kurtz, who pinned Jake Rau (Raiders) in the 195-championship match. All three contested matches on the day, Kurtz won via pin.
In very similar fashion, Guzik had a solid day and would pin his first three opponents on the day and faced Jake Brunner (Medford) in the final round. Guzik would record the 8-2 decision to earn his first GNC title.
Olson also was in a three-way tie for first at 4-1 on the day, and would place first by the tie-breaker standards. In the fourth round, Olson fell in a 6-4 decision to Dejay Nordrum (Lakeland) but bounced back to defat Dane Higgins (Medford) in the final round. Olson recorded the most pins out of Higgins and Nordrum in the tiebreak to earn his first GNC title.
Krueger bumped up to heavyweight bout and used three straight first-period pins after his opening match. In the finals, Krueger then defeated Jose Mohr (Mosinee) 9-2 to earn the conference title.
After regaining the GNC title, the Hodags now focus their attention to playoffs. Rhinelander will take part in the WIAA Division 1 regionals held in Wisconsin Rapids on Saturday.