The 2021 WIAA Division 2 state wrestling tournament had a much different feel this season, but that didn’t bother Lodi’s trio this past Saturday.
Instead of the Kohl Center in Madison, this year’s tournament was held at Adams-Friendship High School in front of a limited crowd.
The new surroundings had little effect on the Blue Devils, who came away with three medals.
“Anytime every wrestler you bring to the state tournament comes home with a medal around their neck you can take great joy from the state tournament,” Lodi coach Cody Endres said. “I know all three of these guys wanted gold, but we still take pride in them placing at the state tournament.”
The Blue Devils’ trio of 113-pounder Parker Heintz, 126-pounder Chandler Curtis and 145-pounder Zane Licht all placed in the top four on Saturday.
Lodi, which was in first place in the first round of the tournament, finished the day with 46 team points to place sixth behind Amery (107), Baldwin-Woodville (62), Prairie du Chien (54), Winneconne (52) and Wrightstown (47.5).
Licht, who was making his state debut, led the way for Lodi with a second-place finish. He is the first finalist for the Blue Devils since Jacob Heyroth in 2018.
“What a season and what a tournament for Zane,” Endres said. “From regionals to sectionals and to state, Zane just continued to improve. He really showed the rest of the state what an amazing wrestler he is with the tournament series he had. Zane can beat you in all three positions and he is always looking to score points.”
Licht opened the tournament with a 9-0 major decision over Wrightstown’s Nick Alexander. He then advanced to the finals with a 17-5 triumph over Abbotsford-Colby’s River Halopka.
Licht faced a tough challenge in the championship match, as Two Rivers’ Matt Bianchi captured his fourth-straight state title with a 20-1 technical fall.
“We were really pleased with Zane’s effort in his final’s match,” Endres said. “He went out firing off shots and looking to score. He won’t back down from anybody and we just love that about him.”
Licht finished the season with a record of 11-2.
Heintz and Curtis both came away with fourth place.
Heintz opened the tournament by pinning Oconto Falls’ Graeson Pankratz in 1 minute, 46 seconds, but he then fell 4-1 to Neillsville-Greenwood-Loyal’s Luke Dux in the semifinals.
In the consolation semifinals, Heintz had the quickest pin of the tournament. He struck Campbellsport’s Drake Muellenbach in 12 seconds.
Heintz came up short, 3-0, in his third-place match with Spencer-Columbus Catholic’s Treyton Ackman.
After missing the regular-season with an injury, a strong postseason run left Heintz with a 7-3 record for the season.
“Parker was just a warrior this year,” Endres said. “At one point this season, we didn’t feel he’d be able to wrestle. So, for him to come back, make it to state after only wrestling in two tournaments, and then place at state in one of the toughest brackets in Division 2 was just incredible. Parker was also dealing with the loss of his grandfather during the postseason run and he honored him through his performances.”
Curtis began his run to fourth-place by pinning Shoreland Lutheran’s Mason Gill in 4:55 in the opening round. However, he lost 9-2 to Luxemburg-Casco’s Max Ronsman in the semifinals.
After pinning GET’s Tanner Andresen in 2:51 in the consolation semifinals, Curtis fell 7-3 to Ashland’s Austin Defoe in the third-place match.
“Chandler had been on such a dominant run for so long and he continued that in his first round match at state with another pin,” Endres said. “After a tough loss in the semifinals, he rebounded and got another pin against an incredibly tough GET wrestler when he was trailing. Chandler is never out of it and he is going to go until the whistle stops. Chandler took his losses hard. We know he will be more motivated than ever to work this offseason and chase his ultimate goals.”
Curtis finished the season with a 13-3 mark.
The good news for the Blue Devils is that all three state medalists will be back next season.
“On the bus ride home, these guys were already talking about the work they were going to put in to reach their ultimate goals for next year,” Endres said. “We’re blessed to bring these three back and we have a lot of other guys in the room ready to work and improve for next season as well.”
Adams-Friendship High School will host the WIAA Division 3 state team tournament this saturday starting at 10:30 a.m.
In the semifinals, top-seeded Amery will take on fourth-seeded Kiel, while second-seeded Prairie du Chien will take on third-seeded Winneconne.
The finals are set for 20 minutes after the conclusion of the semifinals.