In one of the highlight dual meets of the season, the Lakeland wrestling team hosted Rhinelander on Thursday, Jan. 16, with the Handrick Hammer on the line in honor of former Lakeland and Rhinelander wrestling coach Tommy Handrick.
“It’s an opportunity for us to recognize who dedicated himself to the communities of Lakeland and Rhinelander,” coach Adam Bremer said. “To have that trophy in his name is something we’ve taken commitment to and taken pride in.”
The Hodags defeated the Thunderbirds 40-33.
“Pretty electric, a lot of back and forth, a lot of excitement; just wished we had a little different result, but our team wrestled well,” Bremer said.
The Thunderbirds were off to a great start Thursday night. Zane Grams pinned Cole Lehman in the 132 class in 3:26.
Then, Jose Retana pinned Trevyn Rappley in the 138 class in 1:53.
“It was a really good night for Zane Grams and Jose Retana,” Bremer said. “Both really stepped on the line and determined they were going to have a positive impact. They both had big wins and I thought that was a great part to the wrestling part of the dual.”
Next, it took only 1:20 for Jason Hilgart to pin Jordan Sparling in the 145 class.
“I thought Jason had him in a good position very quickly,” Bremer said. “Rhinelander showed toughness instead of getting frustrated. Jason adjusted and got into a tighter move to finish off the match.”
The Thunderbirds were up 24-0 in the meet.
In the 152 class, Jerry Goselin took a 5-1 decision loss to Cayden Neri, but performed well.
“Jerry had a very good back and forth match, kept the energy up,” Bremer said.
In the 160 class, Nick Rybicki won by an 8-4 decision over Joe Fugle, using a variety of moves to gain points and expanding the Lakeland lead.
“Nick Rybicki stepped up and had one of those marathon matches,” Bremer said. “I was really excited for a senior at home to get a victory like that, wrestled a great match.”
Then the Hodags made a run and won seven of the next eight matches.
“Each individual match is kind of like its own game,” Bremer said. “Then when that match ends you have to come back and do it again.”
In the 195 class, Trevor Knapp had a back-and-forth match with Henry Evenhouse. Knapp picked up enough points to win an 11-4 decision. The Hodags gained three points with the win. Another turning point came when Rhinelander’s Ben Sinclair in the 220 class and David Schramke in the 285 class pinned both Landon Saglin and John Mann in under 1:10. The Hodags gained 12 more points.
“Because we got guys wrestle weight classes, that’s not necessary the strength of our lineup sometimes, that’s the disadvantage of how wrestling works and trying to fill 14 weight classes,” Bremer said.
The Thunderbirds weren’t done yet. Sawyer Duir in the 106 class defeated Tanner Schmidt by pin in 36 seconds, gaining six points for Lakeland.
“Sawyer Duir at 106 just dominated. He came out and his speed surprises a lot of people,” Bremer said. “He’s a tall, wiry kid and the next thing you know he’s in on your legs.”
With Lakeland now up 33-30, the Hodags had two more matches to counter themselves.
Tim Fox won by a 10-0 major decision over Ben Nemcek in the 113 class. That gained the Hodags four points as the Hodags led 34-33 in the match.
“Ben Nemcek wrested a really good match,” Bremer said. “Tim Fox is a really good wrestler.”
It all came down to the final match in the 120 class between Hugh Wiese and Brady Abb. Wiese pinned Abb in 36 seconds, giving Rhinelander the dual win.
“Our goal was to be intense, our goal was to be if Rhinelander was going to beat us, it would be if they were at their best,” Bremer said.
The Thunderbirds return to the mat Thursday, Jan. 23 at home against Medford starting at 7 p.m.
Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]