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21

Feb, 2019

Six Warrior wrestlers qualify for State

Six wrestlers.

Waunakee’s wrestling team set a new school record this week, sending six wrestlers to qualify for the Individual State Tournament.

“It sets a new standard for Waunakee wrestling,” said Waunakee’s Head Coach Mark Natzke. “To have that many individuals that qualified, and not only did they qualify, but they all belong to be there.”

 

Saturday’s Individual Sectional meet was one of two meets for Waunakee last week. They also wrestled against Holmen in the Team Sectional on Wednesday.

WIAA Individual Sectional

In order to qualify for State, a wrestler needed to place in the top two of their bracket at Sectionals. Four Waunakee wrestlers – Kolby Heinz at 106, Sam Lorenz at 120, Zach Marek at 182, and Reed Ryan at 220 – won their bracket by going undefeated on Saturday. Ryan was perhaps the most dominant wrestler of the day, winning all three of his matches by pin in the first period.

“He’s just Reed,” said Natzke with a laugh. “He’s just dominant.”

“I just was going to go out there and work on my shots. Take him down, let him up; take him down, let him up. Finally go for the pin,” said Ryan. “I know those extra takedowns that I take will pay off later in the season – hopefully at State – when I need to get a takedown late in a match to win it.”

Lorenz had a pair of tight matches in his semifinal and final matches, but was able to get payback for losses earlier in the season against Sparta’s Jon Bailey in the semifinal and DeForest’s Luke Beyer in the final. Both Ryan and Lorenz return to State for the second straight year, which Lorenz sees as an advantage.

“Last year was definitely shocking walking out onto the Kohl Center floor,” said Lorenz. “This year, with a little experience behind me, I think I’ll be able to keep my composure and just go out and wrestle.”

The final two Sectional champions – Marek and Heinz – had great performances. Heinz won two of his three matches via pin, and his third came by a major decision. Marek had a pin and major decision in his quarterfinal and semifinal matches, and then defeated Holmen’s Drake Schams in sudden victory to claim the title.

“Every year, I’ve made Sectionals. This year, not only to get there again, but to finally make it out on top, that boosted my morale. It showed me that I’m deserving of it… I’m excited to go out, finally, at State.”

Heinz had possibly been overlooked heading into the postseason, but after claiming Regional and Sectional titles, he’s peaking at the right time and is sure to have gotten the attention of his potential opponents.

“Earlier in the year, I had a little rough patch, but I got my moves down to a point where I’m wrestling to my best potential at a good time…” Heinz said. “It’s all coming together at a good time.”

Two more wrestlers – Berhett Statz at 126 and Colton Grindle at 170 – finished in second place to secure trips to the Kohl Center. Finishing just short of qualifying and placing third were Nick Schweitzer at 113 and Ty Miller at 145, while Braysen Ellis took fourth place at 132.

Earlier in the week, Waunakee wrestled Holmen at Team Sectionals.

Holmen 39,

Waunakee 19

After Ryan’s opening victory allowed Waunakee to take a 4-0 lead, Holmen started to take control. They won the next three matches to lead 12-4.

Victories by Lorenz and Statz allowed the Warriors to cut the lead to 12-10, but that’s as close as Waunakee would come. Holmen won five of the next six matches – three by pin – to rack up a 26-point lead.

The bittersweet week for Waunakee – losing the Team Sectional but sending a record number of wrestlers to the Individual State Tournament – means Waunakee’s wrestlers will still have a chip on their shoulders at the Kohl Center.

“Go out there and wrestle like every match is your last match,” said Ryan on what the expectations are at State. “If you’re doing that, then you know you walked off the mat satisfied and you left everything out there… My expectations are to go in there and win it all.”

The three-day tournament at the Kohl Center begins on Thursday at 3 p.m.

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