Hodags Send Two to State
By Student Writer - Connor Kuczmarski | Published: 02/16/2013
The Rhinelander High School wrestling team battled down to the finish at their WIAA Div. 1 sectional in Marshfield on Saturday, taking almost every second necessary to advance two of their six qualifiers on to the state tournament. Richard Klaver (152) and Connor Johnson (195) both took second on the day and will continue their season in the Kohl Center shooting for a state title.
"It is very exciting to get two guys through to state," RHS wrestling coach Paul Ellenbecker said. "It has been four years since Mike Cinfio that Rhinelander has had someone qualify. For wrestling at the toughest sectional in the state and getting two through and four in the top four it was a pretty good day."
Jordan Lundt (145) and Adam Woebbeking (170) ran into some tough matchups in the opening round both falling by decisions. Lundt took on Hudsons Austin Koski (35-8, No. 10 Div. 1), and fell by a score of 8-2. Woebbeking grappled with Hunter Dahlby of Eau Claire North in a tight match 6-4.
"Jordan just isn't quite there yet," Ellenbecker explained. "As a sophomore to make it to sectionals that is huge for him, with another season under his belt he can be in the hunt. Adam competed hard, he had a couple moves here and there and he could have won. Adam is a younger wrestler, maybe only wrestling 75 matches in his life. He is wrestling against some guys who have wrestled maybe 500 matches. Next year is going to be a big year for him. He knows he is right there and I'm excited to see what he does next year. He is a driven kid and he is going to work."
Dakota Stone (103) and Bryce Bilogan (285) both advanced through the quarterfinals to place in the top four in their respective weight classes. Stone pinned Garret Hildebrant of New Richmond at the 4:23 mark of his match to face No. 1 ranked Bee Lor (45-2) of Wausau West. Stone stuck around throughout the match and battled hard, ultimately falling by a decision 10-3. Stone that lost his wrestle back opportunity by way of pinfall to Manning Denk of D.C. Everest. Bilogan advanced past Andrew Whelan (16-17, Eau Claire Memorial) by way of a pinfall at the 1:09 mark to take on Tristan Wilson of Marshfield in the sectional semifinals. Bilogan pinned Wilson at last weeks regional tournament, but couldn't repeat the task, falling by a score of 8-5.
"Dakota Stone had a nice day," Ellenbecker said. "He ended up pinning the first kid he wrestled who might have been the best guy on that side of the bracket. He wrestled Bee Lor really tough and lost to him close, but he had a chance to turn him over twice. He couldn't get him over but he wrestled him really tough. He wrestled well and had a really nice season. Bryce had a tough day today. As a junior he had his chances to win the match. He needs to develop another takedown in the offseason and get a little stronger and quicker, but he is determined to make some noise next year. Both of the guys who made it to state are seniors and he won 41 matches on the year. I bet 8 to 12 of those guys were ranked opponents. He will make some noise next year."
Klaver made it to the sectional finals, where he met a familiar opponent. Klaver took on Travis Hettinga (43-2) in a rematch of last weeks regional final, which saw Klaver fall by a score of 19-10. Klaver couldn't solve the Hettinga puzzle again on Saturday, falling 10-2, but didn't need to wrestle back due to an early day pin against Menomonie's Cole Bartz. Klaver took second and punched his ticket to the state tournament with an impressive day.
"Richard had another nice day for us," Ellenbecker said. "He lost to the No. 1 guy in the state and competed like crazy. The look on his face being a senior to finally get to wrestle in Madison was awesome. He was so excited and he earned it. He is just having fun and is really coming on right now. Placing for him next week is realistic."
Johnson challenged No. 1 ranked Eric Peissig (45-0) in the finals, which saw the No. 1 and No. 2 wrestlers in the state competing to determine who was the better man on the day. Johnson ended up losing by a score of 8-3, to set up what would turn out to be the most exciting match of the day. In the wrestle back match for second place Connor Johnson took on Merrill's Alex Klug (No. 6, 42-6). Johnson defeated Klug by a score of 11-5 to become champion at last weeks regional tournament, but Klug was a different animal on Saturday night. Klug wrestled Johnson tough, and as the clock waned he was winning by a narrow margin of 4-3. Johnson circled slowly, looking for the smallest of openings, and shot in on a deep double leg takedown with 21 seconds remaining on the clock. Johnson got the takedown and was awarded his two points, taking the match by a score of 5-4 and clinching an opportunity to wrestle at state.
"Connor had a really tough day," Ellenbecker said. "Connor had a little rough stretch in there giving up three takedowns in 45 seconds, when he lost he had to wrestle back against Klug. It wasn't easy, but he hit a takedown with 23 seconds left to win. He is a junior and the leader of our team. He is basically wrestling up a weight class, he was only seven tenths of a pound over 182 today. He wrestled like he did all year long and is looking at the top half of the bracket. I think him making the finals is realistic."
The Hodags send the two wrestlers down to the Kohl Center on Thursday Feb. 21. Ellenbecker is excited about the opportunity to place at state, but is focused on preparing his team not only for the upcoming tournament, but for the future as well.
"We are jut going to fine tune some things and get them mentally ready," Ellenbecker stated. "I believe they can place. We want those guys on the medal stand. It is realistic and we want to get better as a whole. The rest of us are expected to practice. We will have a tough practice on Monday and Tuesday, and then an easier one on Wednesday to get ready for Thursday afternoon."
Dakota Stone (RHS) pinned Garret Hildebrant 4:23
Bee Lor (WSW) defeats Dakota Stone (RHS) 10-3
Manning Denk (DC) pins Dakota Stone (RHS) 3:34
Austin Koski (HUD) defeats Jordan Lundt (RHS) 8-2
Richard Klaver (RHS) defeats Erik Dartsch (RVF) 7-0
Richard Klaver (RHS) pins Cole Bartz 3:50 (MEN)
Travis Hettinga (WSW) defeats Richard Klaver (RHS) 10-2
Hunter Dahlby (ECN) defeats Adam Woebbeking (RHS) 6-4
Connor Johnson (RHS) pins David Hennessey (RVF) 3:03
Connor Johnson (RHS) defeats David Lodahl (WSW) via technical fall 16-0
Eric Peissig (MEN) defeats Connor Johnson (RHS) 8-3
Connor Johnson (RHS) defeats Alex Klug (MER) 5-4
Bryce Bilogan (RHS) pins Andrew Whelan (ECM) 1:09
Tristan Wilson (MAR) defeats Bryce Bilogan (RHS) 8-5
Justin Pawlek (SP) pins Bryce Bilogan (RHS) 1:54
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