Team effort lands Menomonee Falls wrestlers Greater Metro Tourney title
Five individual champions pave way
Menomonee Falls wrestling coach Jim McMahon has developed the club team, he has searched every corner and hallway in the school and he has attended countless youth tournaments.
All for the moment that occurred Friday night at Marquette, when his happy Indian team, fresh off winning a share of their first Greater Metro Conference title in seven years with the hard-won league tourney crown, called over the coaches and made sure that they were in the countless team pictures being taken.
"We have a really great group of kids," McMahon said, "and it's not just the 14 (on varsity). Great kids and great parents who have put a lot of energy and time into this. Club kids, kids from the hallways. It's a credit to all of them. Really a great credit."
The Indians picked up individual championships from Aaron Daly at 106 pounds, Bill Holz at 120, Casey Crangle at 126, Sam Schwabenlander at 145 and Ayoola Olapo at 182 en route to a title-earning total of 246.5 points.
West Allis Central was second with 218 and West Allis Hale, which beat the Indians last week for the GMC dual meet crown, was third with 204.
Falls' title had a strong foundation of 13 first-round victories or byes earned out of 14 weight classes, and reached its final peak with 11 wins out of 14 matches in the final round
Fueled by loss
Senior champions Schwabenlander and Olapo said the team was driven after that disappointing 40-25 dual meet loss to Hale in the Indians' own gym. They knew what had been lost and what could still be won.
"We just used that as fuel this week," Olapo said. "We had to show them (the rest of the conference) who the real champion was."
"It showed us to be a team that could bounce back from a tough loss," Schwabenlander said. "We tried to use it as a positive and make ourselves work harder."
Falls had initially bounced back from the Hale dual with a surprising championship in the Sheboygan South Redwing Duals last Saturday. It was part of a brutally difficult schedule that had the Indians going up to Merrill and to many other difficult points around the state to get the best competition.
"It was like we were seeing ranked opponents back-to-back-to-back all the time," Olapo said. "It's really helped us overcome a lot of things."
And why the Indians had nine individual places third or higher Friday night.
The individual champions were impressive, McMahon said. Highlighting them in his eyes was the effort of Schwabenlander, whom he said "had the tournament of his life."
Schwabenlander pinned Brookfield Central (1:17) and Brookfield East (2:52) opponents and eventually Sussex Hamilton's Ryan Hernandez (1:29) en route to his title.
"I just kept working harder and harder," Schwabenlander said.
Another nice showing came from Daly, who after recording a technical fall over a West Allis Central opponent in the semifinals, beat Hale's James Baltz, 4-1, in the final. Daly had lost to Baltz in the dual just last week.
Holz had little trouble recording his second conference title with pins of Hale (1:42) and Marquette (2:47) opponents.
Crangle remained steady as a rock for the Indians, earning decisions over Hale (11-5), Sussex Hamilton (7-4) and Brookfield Central (7-3) opponents en route to his crown.
Olapo pinned a Sussex Hamilton opponent (1:18) before winning by injury default over a Hale foe.
Those champions got help in the form of runner-up finishes from Jerott Holz at 113, Jake Fuiten at 170 and Trayvon Handy at 285. In addition, James Dow was third at 195.
McMahon was very happy for the six seniors who were on varsity at one point or another this winter, including Schwabenlander, Olapo, Austin Meyers at 138, Jon Haririe at 152, Alex Koch at 160 and Matt Aili at 220.
Schwabenlander feels that his class will leave a strong legacy for the others to follow.
"The younger guys gained a lot of good experience this year," he said. "It was the first time for all of us to be on a really good team. Those guys coming back will look back on this and try to do what we did."
Which would please McMahon endlessly.
"I'm just happy for the kids," he said. "We controlled the things we could control, like the amount of work we put in, and just kept plugging along. Eventually, good things did happen to us."
Wrestlers earn title, set sights on regional
OTHER PLACES FOR THE INDIANS: 132-Jake McMahon, fifth (2-2 on the day); 138-Meyers, fifth (2-2); 152-Haririe, fifth (2-2). 160-Joe O'Claire, fifth (2-2). 220-Aili, fifth (1-2).
UP NEXT: The Indians will aim for their first WIAA regional title since 2006, when they participate in the event at Sussex Hamilton at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the individual sectional at Oconomowoc on Feb. 16, with the team champion taking part in a dual meet against the winner of the Nicolet regional Tuesday at Arrowhead for the right to advance to the WIAA state team tournament. Falls lost to Arrowhead, 35-23, in the team dual in 2006. If Falls were to advance, it would be their first berth in the team state tournament.
QUOTE: "We're looking at the big picture," Olapo said. "We want to compete at team state."
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