Team attitude propelling Merrill wrestlers

The results just keep improving as the state’s 8th-ranked Bluejay wrestlers continue to define more clearly the concept of team.
The Merrill boys turned in a 50-17 triumph at D.C. Everest last Thursday, then cleaned house in Saturday’s 18-team Raider Challenge at Arcadia, capturing first place by a whopping 171.5 points.
“I’m really happy with the kids,” MHS coach Scott Arneson said. “It seems each week we’re getting better as a team, and for that to happen obviously the individuals have to be getting better, too.
“If we can get all our horses in the barn, we’ve got a great chance to be wrestling in March (state duals). We always say we know we have to be our best in February.”
Bluejay depth may not be Green Bay Packer depth, but it’s formidable.
“We had some kids sick but we’ve got a good enough team that we can plug some kids in and still go,” Arneson said. “We won the tournament by a lot of points, but it was in no way easy. Most of our kids wrestled above their seeds. With 18 teams, you’ve got to wrestle well to survive.
“After the tournament they told me, ‘Arnie, we enjoy your kids and the way they wrestle. They stay in good position and wrestle six minutes. We tell our kids to watch the Merrill kids.’ That’s what we want out of Merrill wrestling.”
The Jays locked down championships with Ray Paul (145), Dylan Burkam (171) and Noah Lassa (189), and pulled runner-up finishes with Garrett Schmelling (112), Marcus Reinhardt (119), Eric Ball (125) and Grant Collins (285).
Tyler Schmidt (215) placed third, Matt Reinhardt (130) and Kyle Swan (160) finished 4th, Jack Osness (135) ranked 5th, and Nathan Beyer (103), Michael Ball (140) and Justin Bloch (152) were 8th. Varsity reserves Alex Klug (215, 7th) Merrill (525.5) crushed closest rivals Medford (354), Arcadia (327) and Viroqua (321).
Green with envy
Merrill jumped to an immediate 24-3 lead on Thursday and never let up.
“Again the score looks lopsided, but there were some great matches,” Arneson said. “We won more of the close matches than we lost.”
Collecting pins were: Collins (1:01), Schmelling (1:19), E. Ball (2:55), Paul (1:25) and Schmidt (2:45). Decisions came from Osness (10-1), Swan (5-3 OT), Burkam (8-2) and Lassa (17-5) and Beyer earned a forfeit.
Marcus Reinhardt (4-3, 2-OT) and Matt Reinhardt (3-2) lost decisions, Justin Bloch gave up an 18-2 tech fall and Michael Ball was pinned (5:02).

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