This isn’t the way it was supposed to end.
Not for Holmen High School senior Tanner Schultz and certainly not for Eau Claire North senior Mason Phillips.
The final competitive moment they will share as part of the Bi-State Classic is the thud of Schultz landing flat on his back and head with Phillips on top of him in the 138-pound championship match on Saturday.
The throw was deemed illegal and gave Schultz (25-2), who was losing by three points early in the third period, his second Bi-State title in a way he would never want to win one.
That was evident in the tears that streamed down his face as his hand was raised after the decision and the fact that they continued as he walked — with assistance — to a training room, where he spent the rest of the event with medical personnel.
“I feel bad for both of them because there was nothing intentional with it,” Holmen coach Jason Lulloff said. “Sometimes these things happen.”
Phillips held a 3-0 lead after two periods before he picked Schultz up high off the ground and brought him down to the mat hard.
Schultz, who followed his Bi-State championship as a freshman with two third-place finishes before Saturday, let out a groan upon impact before training staff rushed to the stage positioned in the middle of the La Crosse Center floor and provided help.
Schultz sat up after a few moments before laying back down almost immediately. Several minutes later, he was able to get to his feet and try to convince anyone who would listen to him that he could continue the match.
“He was saying that he wanted to wrestle,” Lulloff said. “That wasn’t going to happen.”
Schultz was still woozy, and it showed as he carefully made his way down the steps and toward the training room.
It was difficult to watch for two reasons.
The obvious one was that Schultz, who was pushing himself unbelievably hard to duplicate the Bi-State championship he’d won as a freshman, was injured.
The other was the fact that Phillips wasn’t going to win a match in which he’d wrestled very well. Phillips (9-2) entered the Bi-State as the state’s second-ranked 132-pounder and moved up one weight class.
He severely limited Schultz’s options and was aggressive in building his lead. He scored a takedown in the first period and an escape in the second before Schultz — ranked sixth at 138 — was taken off his feet while trying to escape.
“Mason and Tanner wrestled each other in the finals of a tournament at Sparta once, and Mason was handling him that day,” Lulloff said. “They were in a similar position then to what they were in today, and Tanner got a throw and won the match.
“I think (Phillips) thought he needed to get Tanner off his feet to avoid that happening again. Definitely nothing intentional. He was just trying to avoid a situation Tanner is very good in.”
Had Schultz been able to come back and beat Phillips like he did when they were sophomores, he deserved to walk off the mat high-fiving coaches and teammates the way Isaac Lahr did after winning at 182 pounds.
He deserved to have the scenario play out like it did in his head as he trained, and so did Phillips had the incident not unfolded the way it did.
The question now becomes when Schultz might be able to compete again, and that answer was unavailable on Saturday.
Hopefully, it’s soon because Schultz is very aware that this is his last go-around with the Vikings.
“I’m on a mission this year,” he said after beating West Salem/Bangor’s Aaron Bahr in Friday night’s quarterfinal round. “I have a lot to prove this year, and there is a lot I want us to accomplish as a team.”
The Vikings won Division 1 and overall Bi-State championships with 342 points — Division 3 Stratford (319½) was second overall — and appear to be headed for big things.
It wouldn’t seem right if Schultz, who has posted a 143-21 record since joining the team, wasn’t part of that.