Wichman joins Wilkowski as freshman champ at Early Bird Scramble
For the second time in three seasons, Watertown crowned a freshman champion at the Tom McGarvie Early Bird Scramble as Walker Wichman (5-1) dismantled his competition to claim the title at 120 pounds.
In 2016, Edward Wilkowski became the first Watertown freshman to take home gold, and on Saturday, Wichman matched his accomplishment to help lead the Goslings to fifth place score of 380 points.
“It’s always tough for freshmen in the Early Bird because seeding is based on last year’s records,” Watertown co-wrestling coach Bob Logan said. “Obviously, for freshmen, that doesn’t leave them much opportunity, so they have to make their own opportunity.”
Starting the day with an 11th seed (out of 11 wrestlers), Wichman started the day with a 14-1 major decision over Middleton’s Lesley Neisius. He then strung together three pins, the third one, against Rece Czerniejewski. Czerniejewski was a 29-win sectional qualifier for Pewaukee last season. Wichman went ahead 5-1 in the match before earning the fall at 3:01 in the second period.
“He is a tough wrestler with tons of mat time,” Logan said. “He doesn’t panic when things go sideways, and he is an amazing scrambler who believes he can always come out on top.”
Watertown co-wrestling coach RJ Dilcher also gave the freshman high marks.
“He doesn’t back down on his feet and he’s only going to get better,” Dilcher said.
In the finals match, Wichman ran into another sectional qualifier in Cael Large from Ozaukee, who had 28 wins last season. Wichman took the early lead with a takedown in 17 seconds, but Large narrowed it with an escape with 11 seconds remaining.
Period two started on the feet and Wichman’s aggressive attack earned a stalling call against Large as the Ozaukee sophomore was struggling to keep Wichman off his legs.
Shortly afterward, Wichman hit a sweep single to score the only points of the period, leading him into the third period with a 4-1 lead with Ozaukee choosing the bottom position.
After almost a minute Large escaped only to be taken down again 15 seconds later by Wichman’s aggressive offense. The match ended 6-3 with an escape with 22 seconds remaining in the match, sealing the victory.
Up a weight class from last year, junior Edward Wilkowski (6-0) notched his third Early Bird Championship to earn a perfect 66 points for his team.
Wilkowski has battled sickness and adversity the past several weeks, but one sure couldn’t tell based on his first weekend on the mat. Throughout the tournament Wilkowski was unscored upon by his opponents, outscoring them 16-0 in match points.
“When Ed wrestles his style, he’s tough to beat,” Dilcher said. “When he goes in there with heavy hands and is always moving forward, he doesn’t give them time to breathe.”
“Edward is a workman,” Logan added. He doesn’t say much. He doesn’t make excuses or complain. He just does what he has to do to get it done.”
Earning his second Early Bird championship was senior Nick Logan (5-1) at 152. Scoring 64 out of 66 possible points, Logan’s only “blemish” was a 17-4 major decision over Middleton’s Joseph Hoffman in round 3, and that was very nearly a technical fall.
Outscoring his opponents 38-9, the only two offensive points (not counting points given by Logan in escapes) was a Hi-C takedown that he gave up in the finals to Mineral Point’s Logan Schmitz in the last seconds of the first period.
“I tried to scramble on him, but it didn’t work.” Nick Logan said.
Schmitz, a fifth place state finisher in 2017, chose down in the second, but Logan evened the score with 39 seconds left in the period with a two point tilt for nearfall. Schmitz escaped with 11 seconds left to go up by one going into the final period.
Logan took bottom in the third period and hit an early reversal, just 13 seconds into the match and immediately cut him to tie the match. A takedown and three nearfall were earned by Logan in the last minute before he finally put Schmitz to his back to earn the fall with just 21 seconds left in the match.
Hernandez places second
Sophomore Sait Hernandez took second at 220 pounds.
Hernandez (3-3) stumbled in his second match against Waukesha North’s Josh Schultz, getting thrown to his back and pinned in 48 seconds, but managed to bring himself back to the championship match when his pool ended in a three way tie.
“His bracket was an 8-man scramble format, and his 4-man B-pool had two wrestlers finish 2-1 and two finish 1-2,” coach Logan said. “Fortunately, Sait beat the other kid with the 2-1 record and he therefore won his pool to give him a shot at the title. Unfortunately for Sait, he lost by fall in 2:35 to Gavin Adler from Middleton to finish in second.
“Sait is as strong as a bull and he doesn’t quit. He doesn’t always do the right thing on the mat, but he does it at 100 miles per hour and sometimes that covers a multitude of mistakes. If he can just keep working what we are working on in the practice room, get to his feet from the bottom without wasting time on the mat, and not make simple mistakes, he’s going to be tough.”
Hernandez was filling in for injured senior, Matt Brewster, who is hopeful to return for Friday’s dual meet at Oregon.
Four Goslings finish 3-2
At 170 pounds, senior Danny Maule (3-3) got buzz-sawed in the opening rounds, losing by major decision and fall to Matt Crowley (Winneconne) and Joe Sklenar (Pewaukee) respectively, but then cleaned up in the consolation bracket winning by fall over Verona’s Caden Page in 4:59, besting Bryce Sekey of Westosha Central in a 13-3 major decision, and then pinning Jack Penny-Galindo from Ozaukee in 2:05.
“Danny continues to show great improvement over last year and is off to a good start,” Dilcher said.
After a great season opener against Stoughton, senior Tanner Nachtigall (4-2) placed fifth overall at 182 scoring three falls on the day.
He opened the day against eventual champion, Zach Wynstra of Clinton and lost by fall in 1:36. He made short work of Dylan Drings of Winneconne in 1:13 before dropping a 6-5 decision to eventual third place finisher Amaru Casas of Whitewater.
Nachtigall worked hard in that match, but came up short. The match was tied 2-2 at the end of one, and again at 4-4 going into the third period.
“We cannot fault his effort,” coach Logan said. “He was going after Casas and even got a stalling call against him when he was trying to avoid Nachtigall’s attacks. However, a takedown with 25 seconds left in the match put Casas up two points and the final escape left Nachtigall one point short.”
Dilcher think Nachtigall has really come on this season.
“Tanner’s really improved since last year,” Dilcher said.
Logan thinks Nachtigall is close to reaching his potential.
“He just needs to clean up one or two things and he should come on top in those tough matches,:” coach Logan said.
“His leadership this year is going to be a key part of our team reaching their full potential. We are really proud of what we saw in the off-season and in these early weeks of his senior year. Tanner definitely has high goals for himself and we hope to help him reach them.”
At 195, senior Miguel Hernandez (3-3) also finished fifth.
Coach Logan said Hernandez is really working hard this season, and his technique has improved greatly.
“Miguel is taking practice more seriously this year, and if he can continue to improve in his preparation, the mistakes he is making will go away,” coach Logan said. “He is still making some basic mistakes that are getting him in trouble, but if we can make some adjustments, he could have a strong showing this season.”
Senior Alex Nachtigall (4-2) placed third at 285. His two losses were to second place Travis Kuhnke of New London by fall with only two seconds left on the clock at 3:58 and to eventual champion Josh Keskinen of Pewaukee in a tight fought 2-1 decision.
“After losing his junior year to shoulder surgery, he is trying to make up lost time this season,” coach Logan said.
Bumping up a weight class to fill a hole at 113, freshman Mason Fritsche (1-4), earned his first career varsity win after pinning Ahton Laberge of Verona in 2:36.
“Although we had hoped to do a little better than fifth this year, we felt the kids did a great job today,” coach Logan said. “We were wrestling a few kids out of place, and had a couple of others filling in for our sick and injured starters, so all things considered, we feel we did very well. We are hoping to get back to full strength by next weekend when we head to Oregon and Waunakee.”
Team scores: Mineral Point 469, DC Everest 433, Middleton 421, Pewaukee 407, Watertown 380, Winneconne 266, Whitewater 233, New London 224, Horicon 153, Westosha Central 148, Beloit Memorial 118, Ozaukee 107, Clinton 100, Waukesha North 98, Verona 89, Catholic Central 37