The Poynette Panthers and the Club @Damage Inc. have joined forces over the past few years to serve area wrestlers year-round in all three styles of wrestling – Folkstyle, Freestyle and Greco-Roman. “Connecting these two clubs together has benefitted area wrestlers more than we could have imagined” Poynette Panther Director Sally Stewart said. “To see boys and girls from multiple school districts come together and bond on and off the mat has been amazing.”
The club season started off in the fall of 2018 with several wrestlers practicing Folkstyle. Some practiced just to gear up for the upcoming season, while a few others stepped on the mat to compete at 2018 Rumble by the River, a National Tournament held in Dubuque, IA. Cash Stewart lead the way taking the title at 112 pounds in the 13 & 14-year old division. Gunnar Hamre placed third at 135 in the 13 & 14 year-old division, Blake Shallow placed fourth at 133 in the 15-18 year old division, Ashton Meister went 3-2 in the 11 & 12 year old division and Tayden Ringstad went 1 -2 in the 9 & 10 year old division.
The focus then shifted to Pre-K to 8th grade Folkstyle wrestling. Wrestlers attended tournaments from December 2018 to March 2019. Winning the 4th place team trophy at the 41st Annual Green Demon Youth Wrestling Tournament at Adams Friendship High School in January was a real highlight.
“What was special about the team winning the trophy was that everyone was there was our youth wrestlers wrestling on the mat and our high school wrestlers coaching them from the side of the mat,” coach Brian Meister said. “It truly was a team effort.”
The team finished off the day with a pizza and bowling party PreK to High Schoolers alike. In early March the youth grapplers brought home another team trophy this time by placing 3rd amongst other teams at the Princeton Youth Tournament.
The Team had 10 youth wrestlers try their hand at qualifying for Folkstyle State with six punching their ticket during qualifying tournaments. At the WWF Kids State Folkstyle Championships, Garrett Crawford and Luke Romack wrestled well but did not place, Lexi Romack brought home fourth place, both Alyssa Webster and Logan Olmsted brought home third and Gunnar Hamre brought home the Folkstyle Championship. Hamre outscored or pinned each of his opponents to stand atop the podium in the 2004– 2005 125-pound bracket.
March meant the return of High School aged wrestlers back into the room working on Folkstyle, Freestyle, and Greco. March also means attending Dominate in the Dells, a national tournament with over 1400 wrestlers in 15 divisions. The Team sent 11 wrestlers ranging from PreK to Senior with seven wrestlers placing. Ryker Bednarski and Pierce McKenna placed fourth, Parker McKenna and Chandler Curtis placed third and Lexi Romack, Gwen Golueke and Cash Stewart were all second.
In March, two of our wrestlers went overseas to Tallinn Estonia to represent the USA in the Tallinn Open. It is Europe’s largest wrestling tournament with 2246 wrestlers and 29 countries represented. Gunnar Hamre placed eighth in Freestyle and fifth in Greco. Cash Stewart placed fourth in Freestyle and second in Greco. Team USA won the Greco tournament and the Freestyle tournament.
In April the Freestyle/Greco-Roman season was in full stream. Wrestlers from nine schools attended practices. The Poynette Panthers and the Club @ Damage Inc did not charge for attending practice, but rather asked for donations for the Arlington Prairie Pride Food Pantry.
“Teaching youth about the importance of community is as important as teaching a great wrestling move. Both will build character and confidence,” coach Corey Hamre said.
Competition in Freestyle/Greco began in April and ran until July. Two athletes competed in the Inaugural UWW U15 Nationals held in Nebraska in mid-April. Although neither Gunnar Hamre nor Cash Stewart made it on the UWWU15 World Team, the experience and lessons learned we priceless.
In early May, the Team sent 13 wrestlers to WWF Freestyle State Championships with six placing. Vala Martin and Gunnar Hamre placed fourth, Gwen Golueke and Cash Stewart placed third, Aevri Ciha placed second and Jade Herzer brought home the Championship in the Girls grades 9-12 Division 138–144-pound bracket. At WWF Greco State Championships we only had six compete and three made the podium. Logan Olmsted placed sixth, while Gunnar Hamre and Cash Stewart were both second.
The Team had three women compete in four brackets at the Women’s National Championships in Irving, Texas in May. Of the three, Jade Herzer placed third in the UWW Cadet Division.
In mid-May, the focus turned to the regional tournaments that qualify wrestlers to compete at the National Tournament in Fargo in July. The Team had wrestlers competing with Team Wisconsin at the Northern Plains Regional Tournament held in Rochester, Minnesota, six in Freestyle and three in Greco. Placing in Freestyle were Jade Herzer (first), Aevri Ciha (third) and Gwen Golueke (fifth). Placing in Greco was Gunnar Hamre (fouth). At the Central Regional Tournament held in Ada, Ohio, the Poynette Panthers and THE Club @ Damage Inc had two wrestlers in Freestyle and two wrestlers in Greco join Team Wisconsin. Hamre was second in Greco, while Stewart was third.
During June, Gwen Golueke wrestled on the Wisconsin Women’s Junior Dual Team in Tulsa OK going 4-3. Cash Stewart wrestled on the Wisconsin Cadet Greco Dual Team in Spokane, Washington and went 4-3.
Late June, Stewart return to Europe to compete in the Meteora Wrestling Academy’s International Wrestling Tournament located in Trikala Greece. He came away with first place in both Greco and Freestyle.
July marked the end of a long road by competing in Fargo ND at the US Marine Corps USA Wrestling Junior and Cadet National Championships. In freestyle, Gwen Golueke was in the Junior 112-pound bracket and went 3-2. Cash Stewart wrestled Freestyle in the Cadet 120 lb. 110-man bracket and went 2-2. Gunnar Hamre wrestled Greco in the Cadet 132-pound bracket and went 3-2. Stewart also wrestled Greco and went 2-2.
The new season has kicked off with huge bang. Practices began in September. Donations were collected for King Veterans Home. In October, the wrestlers participated in a community Leaf Rake organized by the High School Wrestlers. Gwen Golueke went 4-1 at the Midwest Mat of Dreams Girls HS Dual Event in Independence, Iowa.
In late October, Gunnar Hamre traveled back to Europe and placed second at the 2019 Prague International Greco Tournament in the Czech Republic and eighth in the Malarcupen Greco Tournament in Sweden.
Back home, Logan Olmsted placed sixth in the 2019 Rumble at the River held in Dubuque in early November.
The club finished their Veterans Day Donation Drive which turned out to be hugely successful.
“We are hoping to continue our success,” Sally Stewart said. “We hope to continue to introduce the sport of wrestling to more area boys and girls and we hope to continue to give back to the community. The youth Folkstyle season registration will be held the first week of December with practices running through the end of March. I can’t wait to continue to watch this sport develop these athletes on and off the mat.”