The Lakeland wrestling team had several victories in their matches over a three-day span.
First, the Thunderbirds lost to conference-foe Tomahawk 50-18 on Thursday, Dec. 19.
Then the Thunderbirds participated in the Willard Schmidt Scramble at Green Bay Preble on Saturday, Dec. 21. They finished eighth with 253 points.
“Really exciting to start with a quality team at home,” coach Adam Bremer said. “We saw a really good crowd. Lot of excitement, lot of energy in that first meet.”
One of the first victories for the Thunderbirds came from Jason Hilgart in the 145 class. He won by a 3-0 decision and picked up three points over Alex Bishop.
At 3:01, Hilgart made a great move to get on top of his opponent. With 40 seconds left in the final period, Hilgart almost got the pin. He still finished with the victory.
“We want to stay in that strong position and Jason did an excellent job today of always keeping himself in a strong position. He rode the top position incredibly well,” Bremer said.
The very next wrestler for Lakeland won as well. Nick Rybicki of the 152 class defeated Thomas Rigney by pin in 4:19. In the final period, Rybicki made a move to get Rigney in a headlock that led to a pin.
“It was really exciting for Nick, another senior, to have it in his home opener, to be able to go get a win like that,” Bremer said.
Sawyer Duir found success for a victory as well in the 106 class. He used his quickness and strength to his advantage and got in good position all match. He pinned Addison Peissig in 2:57.
“Sawyer had a great match tonight. He weighs the same as the guys he’s wrestling, but because of his age he’s got a physicality that a lot of kids can’t catch up with,” Bremer said. “We’re going to work with Sawyer to work on that combination of really good finesse, really good technique. At the same time recognize those moments where his size, his physicality is just going to be good for him.
The final victory for the Thunderbirds came from Harry Nemcek in the 126 class. He battled with opponent Luke Knight all match long and ended up with a 9-7 decision win.
“(Luke Knight) was right on the cusp of being a state wrestler. That’s the level that we want to be wrestling at,” Bremer said. “For Harry tonight, that was a huge win for him to be able to go in that moment.”
Early in the match, it seemed Knight had good position and tried for a pin. But Nemcek turned him around and looked to get a pin. In the last period, Nemcek finished strong to gain points and eventually the win.
“To be able to reverse it and score those four points to get a win — that was a big deal,” Bremer said. “We were really excited about that effort from Harry.”
One strong performer who did not get the win was Brady Edwards in the 160 class. He got pinned by Logan Bishop in 2:43.
“At the end of the first period, the wrestler from Tomahawk had a really strong position, looked like he was going to get him turned and Brady just dug down deep and said I won’t go over,” Bremer said.
Overall it was a successful home opener for the Thunderbirds.
“As a team, I was very proud of that fact — I don’t know that we were the aggressor, but we were tough in every match,” Bremer said. “I was really proud of the overall effort, I was really proud of the toughness.”
Willard Schmidt Scramble
“(There were) ups and downs,” Bremer said of the team’s time in green Bay. “I felt like we had moments during the whole thing where we wrestled really well and things where moments didn’t click too much.”
In the 145 class, Hilgart finished the highest of any Thunderbird. He placed second and scored 42 team points.
In the championship bracket, Hilgart won by decision over Tony Jopek of Crivitz by a 7-2 decision. He advanced to the championship to take on Adam Sauer of Lomira. Sauer won by 10-4 decision over Hilgart to take the win.
“Jason Hilgart making the finals was a big statement for him,” Bremer said. “Jason did an amazing job wrestling in control the entire time, same kind of deal I saw on Thursday night. Real exciting to see that continuation.”
In the 126 class, Harry Nemcek placed fourth and scored 32 team points. In round three, he defeated Waupaca’s John Schmidt by major decision 14-4. He later fell to Cael Large of Ozaukee in the third place match.
Brady Edwards of the 160 class finished fourth as well and scored 33 team points. In round three, he pinned Kaukauna’s Logan Bammen in 35 seconds. In the third place match, he fell victim to a pin from Kaukauna’s Jonathon Alvarez.
“Brady Edwards would be one that was exciting for us as a coaching staff,” Bremer said. “(He was) competitive in all his matches.”
A number of Thunderbirds finished in fifth. One of those was Brady Abb, scoring 33 team points in the 120 class. He won the fifth place match over Dominic Thoresen of Crivitz by technical fall.
“I thought it was a really good day with really good things,” Bremer said.
Zane Grams placed fifth in the 132 class and scored 31.5 points. He won his fifth place match with a pin over Zach Presley of Adams-Friendship.
“A team success, everybody up and down the lineup had good matches where they wrestled really well,” Bremer said.
Nick Rybicki of the 152 class placed fifth and scored 33.5 team points. He pinned Isaac Birschbach of Winneconne in 1:36 in the fifth place match.
“Nick Rybicki was competitive, really successful against quality level opponents,” Bremer said.
The Thunderbirds return to the mat Friday, Dec. 27 and Saturday, Dec. 28 for the Northern Badger Invite at River Falls High School. Play opens at 9:30 a.m. on Friday.
Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]