The Poynette boys curling team has made a habit out of winning on the sport’s biggest stage, the Wisconsin State High School Curling Championships.
The Pumas captured their second straight state title this past weekend at the Stevens Point Curling Club.
Poynette has garnered three state crowns in the past five years.
The Pumas sent another strong group to the state tournament, led by senior skip Ian Pahman. He was joined on the squad by Senior third Manning Wheeler, junior second Clayton Nehls, freshman lead Matthew Lannoye and junior alternate William Plenty, while Mike Thurston once again coached the Pumas.
“We lost some really good seniors last year, so I felt that I had some big shoes to fill,” Pahman said. “Everybody really played well and stepped up when they had to. It feels amazing, especially going back-to-back.”
The 2020-2021 season may have ended in the same way, but the year as a whole was much different. Because of restrictions due to the ongoing pandemic, Poynette had a limited schedule this season.
“It has been a great year,” Wheeler said. “Of course, COVID took over, but I’m really happy we got to play. It just really feels great to win. I love this team.”
Poynette played just four games in the regular season and then four more in regional action before the state tournament.
“This season has been very different,” Pahman said. “We had less games and less practice time.”
As usual, the Pumas found themselves battling long-time rival Portage in the biggest games this season.
The Warriors won the first three meetings between the two teams this season, but Poynette would get revenge in the state championship game.
“It feels even better to finally get the win over Portage,” Nehls said. “It feels great to get the title for a second time. Hopefully, we can have a shot at it next year.”
The Pumas used a big start to knock off the Warriors 8-4 and earn their second straight title.
“We got the win when it mattered most,” Nehls said. “We played our best. There are so many variables in curling, but it was our day.”
Poynette scored four in the first end to grab momentum early.
After scoring two in the second end, Portage tied the game after stealing points in the third and fourth ends.
The Pumas regained the lead after stealing a point in the fifth end. They added a point in the sixth to go up 6-4.
Poynette put the game away with a point in the seventh.
“I got a chance to watch them play at state last year and I remember the celebration after they won the title,” Lannoye said. “I wanted to be a part of that.”
The Pumas earned a spot in the championship game after holding on to beat Wausau West 6-5 in the semifinals.
“We all just played a really good game,” Pahman said. “We peaked at the right time. Everybody made their shots.”
Poynette had another great start. They scored two in each of the first two ends to go up 4-0.
The Pumas led 6-1 after garnering a point in the third end.
Wausau West made things interesting in the eighth end after scoring two points, but they were unable to force and extra end.