Bluejays roll, rocking Rapids and zapping Zelinsky
The Bluejay wrestling team has been more than solid despite illness, but a healthy contingent spelled disaster for last week’s foes.
A jammed house thrilled to a huge 41-3 rally when the Bluejays wrestlers handled Wisconsin Rapids 47-18 on Thursday, the first time Merrill had beaten the Raiders in two decades.
Then MHS traveled to Whitnall for Saturday’s Zelinsky Duals, and they shot to the top of the 16-team event with hardly a hiccup.
The Jays posted a 5-0 record, handling the closest foe-Pulaski, HM in the Wisconsin Wrestling Online poll-by a 45-25 tally. Merrill is ranked #2 in D1.
“We really brought it,” MHS coach Scott Arneson said. “Our intensity level seemed to be very high and it just kept growing as the day went on. We basically had our full line-up for the first time all season, which I was really happy about.
“During Northern Exposure I gave it to the kids about desire. We were kind of stale and complacent. I blame sickness and the time of year, kind of the humdrums with the weather and exams.
“Pulaski had eight guys ranked in the top 12 in state and we have six, but we had our full show and we’re a pretty balanced team. I think almost everybody had a winning record. “
Merrill racked up wins in all five duals-three in their pool, and semi-final and final matches.
They dunked Marquette University, (77-3), Waukesha South (53-16) and Mukwonago (51-14) in their pool, handled West Allis Central (51-17) next and closed with Pulaski (45-25).
Arneson was at least as proud of the team-building that occurred at Whitnall as he was the title run.
“The kids that were 5-0 said to the others, ‘Even though you lost, you didn’t get pinned. Now we can still win this.’ It’s neat to see the kids pull together. I think we’ll get tighter and tighter, and tougher and tougher.”
The Jays ended up with five undefeated champs-Mason Reinhardt (160, 3 pins), David Pophal (170, 4), Ben Hintze (182, 3), Alex Klug (195, 2) and Tyler Schmidt (220, 3).
Forging a 4-1 mark were: Nathan Beyer (113) and Tanner Pettit (126, 2).
Garrett Schmelling (138) ended up 3-1, while Scott Arneson (132, 2), Eric Ball (145), Dylan Schielke (152), and Gabe Nelles (285, 2) all were 3-2. Aidan Ball (106) ranked 2-2, Hunter Welch (120) was 2-3, and Jagger Scholz (138) was 0-1.
In the finals match, #7 Schmelling defeated #13 Michael Frehse 7-2, #6 Alex Caelwaerts forfeited to #1 Reinhardt, #6 Pophal stuck #10 Anthony Rottier in 1:30, and #5 Klug pinned HM Levi Van Laanen in 4:55.
Team standings-1. Merrill (5-0), 2. Pulaski (4-1), 3. Mukwonago (3-2), 4. West Allis Central (2-3), 5. Stoughton (4-1), 6. Pewaukee (3-2), 7. Beaver Dam (2-3), 8. Waukesha South (1-4), 9. Muskego (4-1), 10. Whitnall (3-2), 11. Germantown (2-3), 12. Fond du Lac (1-4), 13. Green Bay Preble (3-2), 14. Kenosha Bradford (2-3), 15. Hartford Union (1-4), 16. Marquette University (WI) (0-5).
Rapids froze over
The fans may have been holding their breath out of habit when #2 Merrill hosted Rapids-not even an HM team in state rankings for the first time in memory-jumped out to 12-0 and 15-6 leads.
But illness had given the Raiders an early break, and it was due to end when they hit the murderer’s row of 160 through 220 pounds.
“Man, that was a great, great Merrill crowd,” Arneson said. “The kids really wanted that win. You could see it in their effort.
“As a coaching staff I don’t believe we’ve beaten Rapids, so that was a nice milestone. I’m glad it was at home and the people could see it.”
Rapids pulled pins at 285 and 106 over replacements Riley Kurtz (4:45) and Donald Ogden (3:35), before undersized A. Ball won 7-5 up at 113. Pettit was edged 1-0, but Arneson (10-2 major) and Schmelling (2:58 fall) gave the Jays a 16-15 edge.
After E. Ball was beaten 10-4 due to a late failed throw, Merrill took over. Schielke (1:58), Reinhardt (1:53), Pophal (9-0), Hintze (1:31), Klug (6-1) and Schmidt (forf.) closed it out, convincingly.