Mel-Min/G-E-T 72, Black River Falls 6
Last Tuesday the Titans opened their Coulee Conference dual meet season against the Tigers of Black River Falls. Although the bulk of the Mel-Min/G-E-T score was provided due to forfeits, there were some good matches wrestled.
The Tigers scored first when senior Josh Goldsmith twice fought off his back then dominated a scramble position to earn a pin at 152.
At 170, Devin McCoy returned the favor when he fought to avoid being pinned then pinned his opponent in the 170-pound match.
The night’s top match-ups were wrestled at 160 and 220. At 160 the Titan’s Will Johnson took on the Tiger’s Noah O’Brien. Both wrestlers found few scoring opportunities early in the match until Johnson took O’Brien down and added back points to cruise to an 11-4 decision.
In the 220-pound match, Sam Johnson faced the Tiger’s Ethan Osley, who recently placed second at the BRF Invitational. The match was a low-scoring affair and Johnson needed a third-period escape to grab a 5-4 decision.
Two other Mel-Min/G-E-T wrestlers added to the Titan score with pins. Landon Lockington (182) and Bryce Burns (195) both pinned their opponents in the first period.
Mel-Min/G-E-T 55, Viroqua 15
When the Viroqua Blackhawks came into the Mel-Min gym on Thursday, they brought with them an impressive laundry list of accomplishments. They had already chalked up an early-season tournament championship, they had four individually-ranked wrestlers in their lineup and they were ranked among the honorable mention teams in Division II.
The Mel-Min/G-E-T Titan’s came to the dual with their own list of credentials, albeit on paper. In an early-season poll the Titans were ranked sixth among Division II teams and had seven individually-ranked wrestlers in the lineup. However, the team was coming off having the dubious honor of being whacked by four highly-ranked teams the week before at the Dells Duals. Given the circumstances, the contest had all the watermarks of a hotly-contested affair.
The luck of the draw immediately went to the Titans as the meet started in the upper weights where they had the upper hand against the weaker portion of the Blackhawk lineup. Beginning at 195, Mel-Min/G-E-T took it’s toll on the Viroqua upper weights with three straight, first-period pins. Burns (195), Sam Jansen (220) and Josh Marciulionis (285) all contributed to the opening Titan salvo.
Turning the corner to the lower weights, however, the Titans found themselves in the Blackhawk’s wheelhouse. At 106 Kohl Linberg had to avoid a barrage of pin attempts to go six minutes with eighth-ranked Cale Anderson. At 113 Colton Sime, ranked as honorable mention, faced a familiar opponent in Josh Frie, who was ranked seventh. Although the Blackhawk sophomore earned a 9-3 decision, Sime saved the Titans a team point when he scored a takedown at the end of the match to allow Viroqua only three team points rather than four.
From 120 to 132, Mel-Min/G-E-T was able to dip into its talent pool. Bailey Fitzel (120), who recently placed second at the 16-team Tomah Tournament, jumped into the lineup at 120 and made short work of his 120-pound opponent while Jack Marley moved to 126 and followed suit.
Julian Purney moved up to 132 to face the Blackhawk’s Casey Leer, who had only one loss on this season’s record. The match was a series of scrambles that saw the under-sized Purney come out with a 7-5 win.
In the 138 pound match, Titan sophomore Hunter Anderson dominated the contest on his feet and clicked off a 9-1 decision. The Blackhawk’s state champion Ryan Hannah then faced off against sophomore Jacob Summers at 145, and Summers was equal to task when even after an injury late in the match he allowed Hannah only a 5-0 decision.
At 152 the Titan’s were again able to go to their depth chart when Bryce Blaken moved into the lineup and pinned Ben Froiseth. Jaden Anderson was able to bump up to 160 where he followed Blaken’s lead and earned a pin of his own.
Will Johnson’s 170 pound match was a much tougher challenge as he faced off against the Blackhawk’s number one – ranked Tyler Hannah. Johnson was able to avoid Hannah’s pin attempts and held Hannah to a 14-4 decision.
With the dual meet win securely in the Titan’s back pocket, Lockington finished the team’s scoring with a pin in his 182-pound match
“It’s not often when we can see a positive impact manifest itself after some serious shellackings,” coach Ernie Brodsky said. “They experienced a fine line between being humbled and being demoralized. If they get it right, they end up feeling a degree of confidence.”
Titans Win Richland Center Tournament
The last time a Mel-Min–related team wrestled in the Richland Center Tournament, Melrose-Mindoro wrestling legend Tom Dobbs was a junior and his team won the tournament title. History repeated itself on Saturday when the Mel-Min/G-E-T Titans returned to the 16-team tournament for the first time since 1976 and came away with the team championship.
Three Mel-Min/G-E-T wrestlers earned championships, and the entire 13-man roster finished among the top seven place-winners in each weight-class.
Championship finishes by Sime (106), Purney (126) and Sam Johnson (220) led the Titan point total. Sime cruised to the finals with a quick pin and a 15-0 technical fall. In the finals he faced Tristan Haque of C-FC, and needed an overtime takedown to earn a 7-5 decision. At 126 Purney needed a 2-1 overtime win in the semifinals before dominating the finals match 15–3. In Sam Johnson’s trek to the championship, the Mel-Min/G-E-T senior gave up only four points in the three matches. After pin in the quarterfinal, Johnson won a 10-3 decision in the semis and a 6-1 decision in the finals.
At 120 Marley made his way to the finals in a bracket that featured three state qualifiers. After skating through the quarterfinals, Marley needed back points to defeat Tomah’s state qualifier Dawson Lambert, 4-2. The finals pitted Marley against the bracket’s other state tournament competitor Isaac Wiegel of Platteville/Belmont, who placed third in last year’s tournament. The two battled to overtime where the Belmont-Platteville senior earned a 7-5 decision.
Two other wrestlers competed for third place after losing semifinal matches. At 195 Burns used a 9-5 decision to advance to the semis where he was decisioned by the eventual bracket champion 12-7. Burns scored first and scored often in his third-place match, cruising to an 8-0 major decision. Titan 106 pounder Linberg advanced to the semis with a 6-3 decision then lost two in a row to place fourth.
Like the remainder of the Titan lineup, Blaken lost a match in the early rounds. Blaken, however, then strung together three straight wins to place fifth at 145. Sam Johnson (132) and Hunter Anderson (138) also wrestled their way to the fifth place match but both lost close decisions in their final matches. Johnson lost 7-6 in overtime while Anderson lost 6-5.
Finishing the scoring for the team, three other Titans stayed alive in the tournament but experienced a loss early in the consolation round. At 152 Jaden Anderson lost a 13-5 major decision but finished the day with a pin to take seventh place. Both Will Johnson and Lockington finished their day on the same note. Johnson won his final match at 160 by medical default while Lockington finished with a 13-1 major decision at 182. After losing two close consolation matches by scores of 5-4 and 3-0, Marciulionis went 2-2 on the day and finished eighth at 285.
The top four tournament team scores: Mel-Min/G-E-T, 256; Baraboo, 211.5; Tomah 188; and Reedsburg, 170.5.
“This tournament was something a team doesn’t have a chance to experience very often. Because we hadn’t competed at Richland Center, we were an unknown commodity. Furthermore, after some guys had experienced three or four losses the week before, our records were nothing to shout about. Only two guys were seeded above the top four in their bracket. Given this circumstance, our mental goal was to wrestle the tournament without looking at anyone’s school or anyone’s record. We did this for the most part and beat some opponents from solid programs who had pretty good numbers,” Brodsky said.