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Mar, 2020

Warrior wrestlers hit the mat at the Kohl Center

The best of the best descended on the Kohl Center last weekend, hoping to earn their place on the podium at the WIAA Individual Wrestling State Tournament.

Five Waunakee wrestlers were among that group: Kolby Heinz at 120, Sam Lorenz at 132, Braysen Ellis at 138, Berhett Statz at 145 and Colton Grindle at 170.

WIAA Individual Wrestling State Tournament


Day 1

Each of Waunakee’s five wrestlers could guarantee a second day of competition with a win in round one.

Berhett Statz had the highlight of the day for the Warriors, pinning fifth-ranked Ryan Dolezal of Marshfield late in the first round of his opening match.

“I had already lost to him this year,” Statz said of his first-round match. “It felt really good to go out there and get the pin.”

Joining Statz in the quarterfinals was Lorenz; after jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the first period of his opener, Lorenz held on to take the match 5-1.

Waunakee’s final three wrestlers were unable to secure wins in their first matches; Ellis fell by a score of 10-3, while Heinz was pinned midway through the second period. Ellis’ opponent fell in the quarterfinals, meaning the first-round match was Ellis’ lone match of the tournament; his season ended with a 33-13 record.

At 170, Grindle squared off against the 39-1 Connor Ramage of Ashwaubenon, who entered the tournament ranked second in the state.

“I can really compete with the top kids in the state…” said Grindle. “I know he has a little bit better record than me, but I’ve watched a lot of film on him; I knew it would be a good match between us. And it was; I really thought I had it going into the third.”

Grindle led 2-1 heading into the third round and was in position to join his teammates in the quarterfinals, but a late rally from Ramage led to a 6-2 comeback win.

“My knee kind of gave out on me,” added Grindle. “I just couldn’t keep up with him at the end.”

For Lorenz and Statz, their quarterfinal matches quickly approached on Thursday evening.

Lorenz fell behind early by a score of 1-4 against Jake Stritesky of Badger and was unable to mount a comeback of his own.

“I’ve got to wrestle six straight minutes,” said Lorenz of what he took away from his quarterfinal match. “I let up for a couple seconds, and he capitalized. Getting in on a low double twice, four-point swings like that, you can’t have this time of year… Now, I’ve set myself up for a harder wrestleback. I’m frustrated with myself.”

Statz squared off against Fond du Lac’s Issac Ortegon and led 4-2 heading into the third. With overtime looming, the two were at 5 with just seconds remaining. Ortegon earned a last-second pin to advance onto the semifinals, sending Statz to the consolation bracket.

“I was hoping to make it to the semis, but I fell short,” said Statz. “It happens; you’ve got to move on.”

For Heinz, Lorenz, Statz and Grindle, moving on meant preparing for Friday’s consolation bracket.

Day 2

Needing a pair of wins to advance onto Day 3 and earn a spot on the podium, Lorenz and Statz again earned victories in their opening matches of the day. Lorenz scored a major decision, 14-1 over Aidan Ford of Slinger, while Statz survived a close match against Sam Bruss of De Pere, winning 6-5.

Both Heinz and Grindle were unable to advance; both were pinned to bring an end to their tournaments. Heinz’s final record on the season stands at 41-8; Grindle’s senior season ended with a 20-4 mark.

Down to two wrestlers remaining, the Warriors’ hopes lay with Lorenz and Statz to move onto Day 3. Each suffered setbacks in the second period of their second match of the day; Lorenz ultimately fell against Joshua Cherba of Waterford by a score of 9-2, while Statz fell 12-2 against Gavin Model of Stoughton.

Lorenz’s final record stands at 37-9, while Statz completed his senior season with a 41-10 mark.

“It’s always disappointing to have it end short of whatever goals they might have…” Waunakee’s Head Coach Mark Natzke said, noting how his wrestlers hoped to earn spots on the podium. “At the same point, all we do is ask them to come down and battle and give it everything they got. Every guy that came down here this weekend gave everything they’ve got… It was an enjoyable year… We had two seniors that came down and wrestled their last time. They’ve had great careers and they’ll be missed.”

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