Indians grapplers claim WIAA regional title, vie for state team berth
A dozen advance to individual sectional
The stack of significant victories for the surging Menomonee Falls wrestling team is growing rapidly and it is getting people's attention.
The list includes: multi-time state champion Wisconsin Rapids and Little 10 Conference co-champion West Bend West in the Sheboygan South Duals; Greater Metro dual meet champion West Allis Hale and WIAA regional champ West Allis Central in the GMC Tourney; and Saturday at the WIAA regional at Sussex Hamilton, Classic 8 co-champ and state power Arrowhead, Little 10 co-champ Oconomowoc and North Shore runner-up Cedarburg.
And Falls still wants more. They took on outright Woodland Conference champion Wauwatosa on Tuesday in the WIAA team sectional dual for the right to advance to the WIAA State Team Tournament on March 1 and 2 (see Menomonee FallsNOW.com for details).
Both schools are looking for their first-ever berth at team state. This is the first time Falls has had this kind of opportunity since the regional title in 2006. That year, they lost to Arrowhead in the team dual.
Then Saturday, the Indians send 12 of their 14-man lineup to the WIAA individual sectional at 10 a.m. in Oconomowoc. The top two in each weight class advance to the WIAA State Individual Tournament in Madison on Feb. 21-23.
Ayoola Olapo (182 pounds) and Bill Holz (120) each are working for their second consecutive state berths.
Indians coach Jim McMahon is not underselling his team in the least.
"We're very happy with all this," he said. "We felt all along that we had an opportunity to do this. Now the key for us is to stay healthy and stay focused. We have a good team, we just needed the pieces to come together.
"We just need to keep the momentum going for a few more weeks."
And getting momentum is what the Falls team has been all about in recent weeks. At the regional, they advanced 13 of their 14 entries out of the quarterfinals, including six of them accumulating vital bonus pin points.
"At one point, someone showed me that we had won 18 of our first 19 matches," McMahon said. "We just got a lot of good efforts out of a lot of different kids. It was super important to have that kind of start."
They had the lead at the end of that round and then never looked back as they scored 225 points to beat Arrowhead (202.5) and Oconomowoc (189.5).
Four regional champs
They had four individual champions among their qualifiers, including Jerrot Holz at 113 (28-6 on the season). Jerrot downed a Hamilton opponent, 8-0, in the final.
His older brother, Bill, (39-4) recorded two pins and a technical fall over a Hamilton foe for his crown at 120.
Casey Crangle at 126 (33-11) also earned a title the hard way, pinning an Oconomowoc foe and then falling behind 5-0 to an Arrowhead opponent before rallying for a 10-7 win in the final.
"That was a big win," McMahon said. "Casey just stuck with it and stuck with it. He showed you have to wrestle all six minutes."
Olapo at 182 (41-2) remained dominant with a pin and a technical fall and then a 12-4 decision over an Oconomowoc foe in the final.
McMahon was very pleased with Jerrot Holz as the freshman made a tough adjustment from club to high school wrestling.
"He's had a very good winter, and we've had a tough schedule," McMahon said. "He now knows that there are no easy days."
Taking seconds for the Indians were Aaron Daly at 106 (37-7) and Sam Schwabenlander at 145 (28-14); while thirds went to Jake McMahon at 132 (21-12) and Jake Fuiten at 170 (33-13).
Fourths went to Alex Koch at 160 (20-15), James Dow at 195 (18-14), Matt Aili at 220 (20-22) and Trayvon Handy at 285 (19-14).
All through the meet, the Indians kept to a simple formula, McMahon said.
"I just told them that wherever they are seeded that's the place they have to get," he said. "If you can go up that's great, but you can't go lower and we did that. Now we're just going to keep picking it up and try to keep this train on the tracks."
"… We just have a group of kids who know that they have an opportunity in front of them."
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