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Feb, 2023

Waunakee trio experiences state tournament

For one Waunakee wrestler, it was the end of the road. The other two are just getting started.

Gabe Guralski, Mason Spear and Katelyn Ottosen all competed for the Warriors at the WIAA Division 1 State Wrestling Meet, held at the Kohl Center in Madison Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 23-25.

The experience was good for the three of them.


“I think it’s the best of all the state tournaments,” said Mark Natzke, head coach of Waunakee. “I believe there were 64,000 people there for the three days. Also, there’s so many schools represented.”

Guralski, a senior, wrestled at 138 for the Warriors, losing by technical fall (17-2, 5:34) in the first round to Germantown’s Riese Thornberry, seeded No. 2. In the consolation round, Guralski lost by pin in 1:40 to Superior’s Connor Krueger.

“For Gabe, it was rewarding to end his high school career with the opportunity to compete at state,” said Natzke. “Even though it didn’t end the way he wanted, it was a great opportunity after so many years of hard work.”

The competition was tough for Guralski. His first opponent at state finished second at 138 pounds, while his second took fifth.

“He qualified for state, so he gets his name on the board in the wrestling room,” said Natzke. “He didn’t hold back. He went out and competed. He just didn’t have enough.”


Spear is a freshman who advanced to state at 106 pounds. After getting pinned in his first match at state by West Bend West’s Ethan Bast in 3:22, Spear gave Germantown’s Owen Becker all he could handle and then some in the consolation round in a 2-0 loss.

“The biggest thing for Mason was it was a great opportunity to experience state and what it’s like to be there,” said Natzke. “It gives him something to shoot for the next three years.”

Talking about Spear’s match with Becker, Natzke said, “He had some opportunities at the end, and that’s all you can ask for is the opportunity to compete. He just couldn’t get anything going, and the kid held him off.”

Like Guralski, Spear had a tough draw, as Bast and Becker eventually battled it out for third place, with Bast winning 6-1 by decision over Becker, who finished fourth.

“He wrestled some of the best in the state,” said Natzke. “It allows him to look at what he can build on for the future.”

Along with teammate Madison Mercurio, Ottosen participated in the first-ever WIAA State Girls Wrestling Tournament last season. For the first time ever, girls wrestled alongside the boys at the Kohl Center to cap off the 2022-23 campaign.


Ottosen was pinned by St. Croix Falls’ Paige Haaf in 1:58 in her lone match at state this year. Ottosen wrestled at 120 pounds.

“For her, it was a great learning experience,” said Natzke. “She’s only a sophomore, and this was a whole different atmosphere than last year, wrestling on the mats with the boys and all those people in the stands. To finish as a state qualifier, you can’t take that away from her.”

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