Dramatic finish earns Falls wrestlers WIAA regional title
12 team members advance to sectional
How many different people contributed to the Menomonee Falls wrestling team's remarkable second straight WIAA regional title Saturday?
Almost too many to count and almost all of them staying tight and maintaining composure.
"That's what we talked about a lot," Indians coach Jim McMahon said. "Especially late in the day. We got to the point where the only way we could lose was if someone lost their composure."
The Greater Metro Conference champion Indians rallied past the North Shore Conference champion Cedarburg squad using a combination of composure, guile and guts, advancing to the WIAA team sectional dual with Wauwatosa that was held Tuesday (see Menomonee FallsNOW.com for details) and sending 12 grapplers to the individual sectional at Milwaukee Vincent at 10 a.m. Saturday.
If Falls won the dual with Tosa, it would earn its second straight WIAA State Team Tournament berth. Meanwhile, at the individual sectional Saturday, the Indians try to match or better the school record of five wrestlers advanced to the WIAA State Individual Tournament when the event is held in Madison, Feb. 27-March 1.
That individual record, set in 1990 and repeated in 1992, is not quite as important these days, McMahon said.
"We've talked over the years and our focus has changed," McMahon said. "We used to focus almost strictly on individual state, now we look to the team state tournament (as the most important thing)."
Especially for seniors like Austin Klein, James Dow and Isaiah Williams, all of whom played key roles at one point another in helping the Indians beat Cedarburg, 241-232, for the regional team title on the Indian mats.
Klein lost his 132-pound quarterfinal bout but then rallied to score two pins in the backdraw and earn a fourth-place qualifying berth. Those pins were two of 20 for Falls this day, all earning valuable bonus points for the team.
Dow at 220 pounds, lost his semifinal but also won two backdraw matches to finish second, also earning a valuable pin.
"James is wrestling the best he has all year," McMahon said.
Williams played a key role in the Indians' great start.
The upper weights are not the Indians' strength, but he was part of a five-man surge in the first round, as senior Jake Fuiten at 170, Williams at 182, Brandon Schafer at 195, Dow at 220 and senior Trayvon Handy at 285, all won their initial matches via pin.
"Our goal was to get to 20 pins and we did," McMahon said.
Two favorites lose
Falls needed every bonus point it could. Cedarburg had more up-top firepower than Falls, putting 10 in the finals as opposed to seven for the Indians. Furthermore, two of the Indians' more talented wrestlers, Bill Holz at 120 (41-2) and Casey Crangle at 145 (39-4) lost in their finals.
That turn of events would put other people in the spotlight.
Including class winners Aaron Daly at 106 pounds (37-7), Ben Bonesho at 113 (23-10) and Jerott Holz at 126 (15-4). Bonesho and Holz were stories unto themselves. Bonesho was in the lineup because Daly moved down from 113 to his more comfortable 106 while Jerott Holz was making his first appearance on the mat in over month because of a shoulder problem.
"He looked like he hadn't missed a beat," McMahon said of Jerott Holz.
Bonesho, who was a great fill-in for Falls in the lineup at various times over the course of the season, seized his opportunity with both hands, scoring two pins for his title and scoring the maximum number of points possible.
He was even more important because Cedarburg did not have an entry at 113 and so did not score any points for the class.
"Ben did an awesome job," McMahon said.
Meanwhile, Daly scored both a pin and a decision in claiming his class title, including a clutch victory over a Cedarburg opponent in the finals while Jerott Holz turned in both a pin and a major decision in earning his title.
Still, this meet was a wrenching experience, McMahon said.
"I tried not to look at the scoreboard too often," he said," because at one point we were up close to 40 points and then the next time I looked (heading into the championship round) we were only up two."
"It was a crazy regional," said Homestead coach Ernie Millard, whose team was fourth in the event.
After the finals round, Falls was actually down 16 points with a series of wrestleback matches yet to be contested. The Indians helped themselves greatly in that round, going 6-2 with three pins and more importantly three victories over Cedarburg wrestlers.
"When Falls got into that wrestleback round they just won and won and won," Millard said. "That was huge for them."
And enough to pull out the win. Not that it was ever easy. Falls lost a team point when Handy lost a little of that precious composure in a controversial third-place match loss to a Hamilton opponent.
"The parents were up in the stands with their iPads keeping track (on the Track Wrestling Website)," McMahon said. "Some were as calm as they could be and others weren't (laughs)."
In short, it was another day at the office for the Indians.
Other sectional qualifiers for the Indians included Bill Holz at 120 (second); Klein at 132 (fourth, 21-11); Jake McMahon at 138 (second, 34-11); Crangle at 145 (second, 39-4); Zach Pogorzelski at 152 (third, 21-19); Fuiten at 170 (second, 36-9); Schafer at 195 (fourth, 22-16); Dow at 220 (second, 21-17) and Handy at 285 (fourth, 22-14).
"It's relatively easy to get there and be a quality team (winning a conference title and team state berth in 2013 like Falls did)," McMahon said. "It's harder to stay there. We didn't perform as well as we would have liked at the higher ends, but this is still very gratifying especially after we went down (in the finals)."
The WIAA Individual sectional at Milwaukee Vincent on Saturday. The top two finishers in each weight class advance to the state individual tournament, Feb. 27-March 1. Bill Holz is trying for his third state tournament berth while his brother, Jerott, and 2013 106-pound state runner-up Aaron Daly are trying for their second state slots. Others with excellent chances include Crangle, Fuiten and Bonesho while good opportunities await Jake McMahon and James Dow.
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