Menomonee Falls grapplers bounce back to claim historic title in Sheboygan duals
Victory includes win over state champ Rapids
Menomonee Falls - Last Thursday night's disappointing loss to West Allis Hale in the Greater Metro Conference dual meet championship was a world away for the wrestling team last Saturday when it collected its championship plaque and boarded the bus for a happy ride home after a surprising triumph in the Sheboygan South Red Wing duals.
It was a triumph that included historic wins over the state's grappling standard bearer Wisconsin Rapids and West Bend West. It is believed to be Falls' first wrestling invitational championship in at least 11 years.
"We really didn't say much between Thursday and Saturday," Indians coach Jim McMahon said. "We just didn't wrestle well on Thursday, but we all know that this is a long-term plan for us and we had to get things straightened out in a hurry.
"The kids just wrestled really, really well on Saturday," he continued. "We mixed up the lineup a little bit and we had a lot of kids contribute."
The Indians are now in an excellent mood as they look to claim a share of the GMC title with Hale in the league tournament at Marquette on Friday at 3:30 p.m. The Indians last grabbed a share of the league crown back in 2006.
"I think we'll be able to go up and down the line and compete with Hale," McMahon said. "We'll score some points and see how far we can go. We're in a much better frame of mind now."
Strong responses in Sheboygan
Following the loss to Hale in the dual (see MenomoneeFallsNOW.com for details), Falls needed to shake itself out of the doldrums quickly and the Indians found their answer in Sheboygan.
McMahon knew he would have good match-ups in the early rounds of the tournament and was pleased with how the team responded with a 57-12 win over Greenfield and a 67-12 victory over host South.
Those victories put Falls in a third-round bout with Oshkosh North, which came in with a 14-2 dual meet record and which had beaten the Indians in this same event last season.
The result was a 51-21 rout for Falls.
"We just matched up really well with them," McMahon said, "and their coach told me that was easily the worst defeat that they had taken this year."
Then came the semifinals with defending 2012 and 21-time WIAA state champion Wisconsin Rapids. The Red Raiders are in a rare rebuilding year, but that didn't diminish the Indians' stunning 39-28 win, a victory sealed by match-end decisions from Jon Haririe at 160 pounds (7-4) and Jake Fuiten at 170 (3-2).
"After the North match we had a quick meeting and we told them just to have fun with this (Rapids)," McMahon said. "It's the best wrestling program in the state, so for us to do this is a huge accomplishment. For the kids to show up to this kind of opportunity, to wrestle Rapids and win a dual, well, I don't think we could have done something like this five years ago. The kids were loose and had fun."
McMahon also praised heavyweight Trayvon Handy, who claimed a pin with just three seconds left, and noted that he was very pleased for Haririe.
The Indians then won the tournament with a surprisingly easy 46-27 championship decision over Little 10 Conference favorite West Bend West.
Falls won six of the first eight matches in the dual, including pins right off the bat by game, but by sometimes overmatched 195-pounder James Dow (38 seconds) and Mat Alili at 220 (1:29).
"This was really very nice," said McMahon. "This was the first time we really put the team together and they really surprised us."
Going unbeaten on the day were Bill Holz at 120 pounds (5-0), Casey Crangle at 126 and 132 pounds (5-0, with four pins), Fuiten at 170 (5-0, with three pins), Ayoola Olapo at 182 and 195 pounds (5-0) and McMahon's son Jake at 132 and 138 (4-0). Aaron Daly at 106 and Jerott Holz at 113 (four pins), both went 4-1.
McMahon liked his son's efforts a great deal but noted that Crangle was the real star of the day.
"He got bumped up to face every tough guy who was out there," coach McMahon said. "He came up with one big win after another. We just had to forget about Thursday and move on. I was proud of the kids for doing that."
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