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RHS: Wrestling
Hodags Finish at State, Johnson Takes Fifth
By Student Writer - Connor Kuczmarski | Published: 02/24/2013


     The Rhinelander High School wrestling team wrapped up their season in Madison on Saturday, finishing an up and down year on a high note. With the support of an entire community behind him, Connor Johnson (195) was the last remaining Hodag alive competing for a state place finish. Following a tough start to the day Johnson ultimately ended his year well, taking fifth place.

"It was a good tournament for Connor," RHS wrestling coach Paul Ellenbecker said. "He wrestled a lot of tough competition obviously down at state, and fought through a lot of adversity."

Johnson competed diligently throughout the early goings of the tournament, defeating Brett Samson of Oconomowoc (No. 13, 34-10) by a major decision 15-5, followed by a quick pin over P.J. LeClaire of Brookfield East (No. 12, 39-13) at just the one minute 55 second mark of the first round. Johnson then fell to Nick Osowski of Oshkosh West (No. 4, 43-4), and ultimately found himself in a position to possibly wrestle back to third place.

Unfortunately for Johnson he ran into Kyle Smith of Franklin (No. 7, 43-5) and fell by a score of 10-0. Johnson couldn't get the momentum going in his favor throughout the match, and was consistently foiled by his older and larger opponent. This pushed Johnson deeper within his bracket, with the best possible outcome to come back for fifth place.

"He wrestled Smith, who was a big strong kid who king of just overpowered Connor," Ellenbecker said. "I think the big thing for Connor is he is giving up a lot of weight. He weighed in at 185 pounds and just kind of got worn down."

Johnson then took on Alec Ingold of Bay Port (No. 3, 37-7) to see who would become the final top five finisher in the Badger state. Ingold had an extremely similar start to the tournament as Johnson, compiling a 2-0 record following the first day of competition.




     Ingold defeated Nick Somers of Beloit Memorial 9-4, followed by Caleb Sisbach of Sauk Prairie 7-6. Ingold and Johnson were two of the final four individuals competing for a state title before falling on hard times, losing to Eric Peissig and Nick Osowski respectively to find themselves in a position to battle back for third.

However, they both tasted defeat in the next round to find themselves battling for fifth place.

Johnson notched the first takedown of the match to set the pace early, but Ingold did not go away quietly. The two battled for dominance the entirety of the match and in the closing seconds Johnson hit an escape that would turn out to be the difference maker. As the clock hit zero Johnson came out on top, defeating Ingold by a score of 6-5.

"He beat a really tough kid who is going to be a monster in the future," Ellenbecker explained. "It a good setting of the tone for next year. He physically controlled the match. He wrestled like we have seen him wrestle all year long. For him it was a great way to end an awesome year. To place fifth as a junior down here is pretty impressive. He wants to make a run next year. He is a special wrestler and has a year left. We are excited."

The Hodags other state qualifier, senior Richard Klaver (152), didn't find the same success as Johnson, but can still return to Hodagland with a sense of pride. Klaver competed in one of the toughest brackets at the state competition, and lost his opening round match in a tight decision 7-4. Despite the defeat, Klaver sported one of the best records on the team, going 36-7 and finishing his career where he so strongly desired.

"It was really cool for Richard to get down to state," Ellenbecker smiled. "He wrestled all four years in high school and is a very good wrestler. For him to end his career in Madison is great. It was no story book ending, but hopefully the other kids can see how his hard work payed off and can prepare you for an opportunity to get down here. All weekend he was glowing. He had that sense of belonging, that he had finally made it. We would have liked to see him place, but he had a great senior year."

Johnson and Klaver can return to Rhinelander with their heads held high, knowing they competed with and defeated some of the most talented grapplers in the state.


Hodag Sports Library
02/17/2014 Hodag Wrestling finishes 5th: 7 advance to sectionals
02/10/2014 Hodags shine with first ever conference championship
02/03/2014 Rhinelander takes down Wausau East on Senior Night
01/29/2014 RHS Wrestling takes first
01/24/2014 Hodags crush Antigo 71-6
01/16/2014 Hodag Grapplers Pin Down First Place
01/09/2014 Hodags Pin Medford
12/23/2013 RHS grapplers finish fourth at Shawano
12/20/2013 Hodag wrestlers earn easy win over Lakeland
12/16/2013 Hodag wrestlers take fourth at Eau Claire North Invite

Connor Johnson: 4th place at state 03/02/2014 Senior Connor Johnson's run for the state title in Division 1 195 weight class ended with fourth place as he battled at the Kohl Center in Madison. Although it wasn't what Johnson was looking for he
Johnson Wrestles Well, Advances to Saturday's Competition 02/28/2014 The loss to Tomah's Jordan Reisinger in the quarterfinal of the Division 1, 195-pound weight class at the WIAA individual state wrestling tournament on Thursday put a sudden end to Johnson's run at a
Hodag Wrestling: Johnson advances to state 02/24/2014 Seven Hodag wrestlers advanced to the sectional tournament hosted in Wausau on Saturday, all looking to move on to the state tournament. Senior Connor Johnson was the only Hodag to advance to Madison.



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