After a pair of big tournaments over the holidays, the Waunakee wrestling team squared off in Badger North action on Friday, heading to Reedsburg, where they defeated the Beavers handily.
The Warriors won six of their first seven matches, opening up an early 30-4 lead.
“When we looked at [Reedsburg] going in, they’re a scary team…” said Waunakee’s Head Coach Mark Natzke. “We preached it all week: you’ve got to be ready to go. If you overlook, they will get you… As a team, we came out and our guys came ready to wrestle.”
After the Warriors dropped the opening match of the night, Jayden Freie scored Waunakee’s first victory with a 6-4 decision at 113. From there, the Warriors won the next five matches, four of which – Kolby Heinz at 120, Nick Schweitzer at 126, Braysen Ellis at 138 and Berhett Statz at 145 – came via first-period pins.
The one match in that stretch that wasn’t decided by pin turned out to be the match of the night. At 132 pounds was a contest between Sam Lorenz and Reedsburg’s Caden Fry: both ranked in the top 12 in the state at 138 pounds.
“[Lorenz] wrestled smart, and he was dominant the entire match…” said Natzke. “He didn’t score a lot of points, but [Fry] never had a chance to score.”
After dropping a close match at 152 pounds, Waunakee continued to roll; the Warriors won four of the next five matches, scoring a total of 54 points to just 19 for Reedsburg.
Making his season debut for the Warriors on Friday was returning state qualifier Colton Grindle. Grindle earned a pin at 170 pounds, marking a big step in his comeback from a knee injury sustained during the football season.
“He never gave up, kept rehabbing, kept working to get himself on the mat and get his opportunity,” Natzke said of Grindle. “He’s finally been cleared to get out there and compete; it was a nice match for him to get out there the first time. We know what he’s capable of… He’s making the most of it.”
Grindle’s pin was one of four in Waunakee’s final four victories; Kaden Hooker at 160, Grindle at 170, Dan Ford at 182 and Jack Schweitzer at 220 all pinned their opponents to add six points each to Waunakee’s team score.
The Warriors will travel to Mount Horeb this coming Friday for another Badger North dual before heading to River Valley on Saturday for an invitational meet. Start time in Mount Horeb is scheduled for 7 p.m.