Bluejays bring the heat to Northern Exposure

The Bluejays grapplers showed no wind-chill effects in last week’s 24-team Northern Exposure Invite, posting a 6-1 record on the way to a third-place finish.
“It’s a positive for us to be able to wrestle two (Merrill) teams in a high-level tournament and do real well,” MHS coach Scott Arneson said. “Third at our tournament is a good finish. There were 6-7 state-ranked teams in the tournament, including Oconto Falls, state team champs last year (in D2).
“It was high-level competition and our kids handled themselves real well. It would have been nice to make the finals. It was a tight dual (in the semis) and we were wrestling to win it. We have no excuses.”
Merrill dropped a 37-27 match to Oconto Falls-ranked 3rd in D2-in Wednesday’s semis, after trailing 31-27 heading into the last match. Merrill bounced back with a 41-18 triumph over #5 Lodi (D2) to lock up third place.
“That last day is head-to-head duals,” Arneson said. “That’s a strength of our team. Hopefully we really come together, keep improving and then wrestle our best in February and into March.”
Luxemburg-Casco, rated #2 in D2, topped Oconto Falls 37-24 for the title.
Five different Bluejays racked up 7-0 records for the two-day event.
“It’s awesome to have four guys go 7-0, actually five if you include Nathan Beyer,” Arneson said. “They beat good kids.”
Wyatt Booth (103), Garrett Schmelling (112), Ray Paul (145) and Kyle Swan (160) pulled it off for the ‘A’ Team, while Beyer (103) worked that mark for the varsity reserve squad that went 2-5 against varsity competition and ended up in 18th place.
Merrill-#9 in D1-qualified for Wednesday’s top echelon with Tuesday wins over Medford (60-9), Pulaski (48-15), Brookfield East (60-13), Rosholt (81-0) and Clintonville (68-7).
Four grapplers ranked 6-1, Matt Reinhardt (130), Dylan Burkam (171), Noah Lassa (189) and Tyler Schmidt (215). Justin Bloch (152) and Grant Collins (285) both went 5-2, and Marcus Reinhardt (119), Jack Osness (135) and Michael Ball (140) forged 4-3 marks. Jagger Scholz (125) was 2-5.
For the varsity reserves, top records came from Eric Ball (130, 5-2), David Pophal (145, 5-2), Mitch Sherfinski (135, 4-3), Ben Hintze (160, 4-3), Jared Mootz (125, 3-4) and Alex Klug (215, 3-4).
“Some other positives for us are we came through with no injuries, and with 22 other teams in town I’m sure some of the businesses benefitted from having that big of a tournament in Merrill,” Arneson said.

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