Oconto Falls wins Regional in front of home crowd
D2 Regionals No. 1 Oconto Falls | Oconto Falls wins Regional in front of home crowd
Abigail Ruckdashel | Wisconsin Wrestling Online | Saturday, January 11, 2017
(Oconto Falls, WI) In the first round of WIAA Division 2 post season, seven teams squared off inside Oconto Falls High School to determine whose seasons would continue and whose would come to a close. In the end, it was No. 4 Oconto Falls that managed to claim the top spot as a team, clinching a sectional matchup against Tomah/Wild Rose this Tuesday night.
Falls clinched the top spot scoring 303 points, and sending 12 out of 14 wrestlers through to the sectional round in front of their home crowd.
“It feels pretty darn good,” Oconto Falls Tri Head Coach Marc Kinziger said. “I’m just gonna go home tonight and look through our matchups, as you know they don’t have to be the same as individuals, and get ready for Tuesday night.”
No. 7 Freedom also put up an impressive showing scoring 261 points, and sending 11 of 14 wrestlers through to the next round. New London was in third with 135.5 points followed by Seymour, Peshtigo, Marinette and finally Clintonville/Marion.
“It’s always exciting when you get a number of guys to the next level,” Freedom Head Coach Justin Lancaster said.
Exciting it was indeed as there were 70 athletes competing, with only 28 spots up for grabs. 23 of the 28 were claimed by Oconto Falls and Freedom alone. With the margin of error being so small between the remaining five spots, there were lots of tears as seasons came to an emotional finish, while some were just beginning.
Oconto Falls Nate Trepanier and Freedom’s Garrison Murphy are proof that sometimes adversity is just what is needed to make a season a little more special.
Trepanier and Murphy are both ranked wrestlers, both suffering from medical conditions making wrestling at an elite level more difficult than it already is.
For second-ranked Trepanier, the defending State Champion, this isn’t his first season dealing with health issues. He even decided to bump up to 160 lbs to make sure his health came first with the season speeding to an end. Clearly, he didn’t let this jump get in has way, as he was able to pin both opponents he faced today.
“I just gotta keep doing what I’ve been doing,” Trepanier said. “Taking first.”
For Murphy, his health was in question leading up through Saturday morning. Recently the 11th ranked 132 pounder was given the okay to wrestle. That itself was a victory, as he had been advised to slow things down at practice.
As if that wasn’t enough, after not wrestling competitively the last few weeks, Murphy had to beat two other ranked wrestlers in the weight to claim the top spot. Murphy prevailed narrowly beating No. 10 Garrett Ruckdashel of New London and No. 9 Kenton Peterson of Oconto Falls.
“I’m taking nothing for granted,” Murphy said. “This time last week, I wasn’t even sure I was going to be here. I’m going to continue to take things slow, and hopefully it will continue to work out for me, like it did today.”
The next two weeks will decide how well these teams and athletes stack up. Some may continue their success, while others may not be as fortunate.
Coach Lancaster laid out a plan to continue the Fighting Irish success.
“The next couple of weeks we are going to just keep doing what we’ve been doing, getting the guys confident in themselves and their attacks. I know most people grind, grind, grind at this time, but we go on the other side just relaxing and fun,” Lancaster said.
When it comes to wrestling, for some, the stars just must align the right way. After post-season weight shifts and jumps, some weight classes contain several ranked wrestlers fighting for only two spots, while others had one or even none. It really is luck of the draw. Throw in there some adversity, and no one really knows what it going to happen until the final buzzer rings down in Madison on Championship Saturday.