Though Germantown won the North Shore Conference wrestling dual with border rival Homestead, 47-34, Wednesday night, it was Highlander coach Ernie Millard who was the much happier person when the evening was done.
That's because though though his Highlanders had to give up four forfeits to the Warhawks, Homestead actually won six matches on the mat as compared to just four for Germantown. The Highlanders did have motivation, as it was senior night for them.
"We have a couple of huge holes in our line-up because of injuries and so we have to try and work around them," said Millard, "but I was very pleased with how physical and aggressive our more experienced guys were tonight."
The moral victory dovetailed off the Highlanders sound 3-2 effort in the Verona Duals last Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Warhawks, who had come into the meet on a hot streak of their own, took a little step backward this night, according to coach Casey Gabrielson.
"We seemed to come out flat in every match," he said. "We clearly did not wrestle our best tonight, not at all. I'm just not happy."
Especially considering that the Warhawks have to challenge conference and state power Port Washington in another league dual on Thursday.
Still, because of the coin flip, the Warhawks were able to set the line-up well and jump out to an insurmountable 35-6 lead by the time the 106-pound match was over. Tyler Palzkill picked up a forfeit at 160 pounds while Tyler Baran pinned Gage Zupke in 3:07 at 170 to get things started.
The Highlanders' 2012 state qualifier Nick Pierret continued his recent momentum at 182 pounds with a pin over Germantown's Mitchell Stewart in 3:11. Millard has high hopes for Pierret as he will likely drop a weight class before the end of the season.
"His fitness level is very good right now," said Millard.
The Warhawks were able to stretch the lead with a Steve Asmondy pin at 195 over Homestead senior Sean Condon in 1:54 and then earned back-to-back forfeits to 2012 state meet qualifier Hunter Higginbotham at 220 and to Mike Glaser at 285.
Germantown's run of success was finished off with an impressive technical fall in the third period by 106-pounder Zack Szohr over the Highlanders' Doug Lennon.
Szohr was able to do that despite giving up over 20 pounds to Lennon. The five-time state youth champion Szohr may be the most technically competent wrestler on the team based on some reports, but because he only weighs about 82 pounds, he frequently gives away too much weight to compete.
"He's giving up like a third of his body weight to some of the guys he's wrestling," said Gabrielson. "That's just too hard to overcome sometimes. If he had about 10 more pounds on him, it'd be a whole different ballgame because he just doesn't quit until the final whistle."
But after Szohr's win, it was the Highlanders who had the upper hand as Homestead 113-pounder Jacob Sanner rallied from a 4-1 deficit to pin Germantown's Dante Beal in 4:23, and at 120, John Hokeness stuck the Warhawks' Dakotah Barnes in three minutes flat.
Germantown picked up another forfeit at 126 as Josh McNall claimed the win but then the Highlanders continued to be annoying as Drew Waller earned a 12-0 major decision over Germantown's Tyler Colegrove at 132 and then senior Jake Mueller pinned the Warhawks' Nick Aldridge in 4:40 at 138.
The Warhawks Brandon Goesch put the team decision out of reach at 145 pounds with a pin in 1:55 over the Highlanders' Julius Zimmerman, but Homestead got the last word on the night when Zach Lennon flattened Germantown's Jonah Bowe in 1:36 at 152 pounds.
Germantown is now 3-2 in North Shore duals while Homestead, which will take on Milwaukee Lutheran in another league dual on Thursday, fell to 1-3.
Gabrielson said his team can't afford any more flat nights like this one against the caliber of competition it is seeing in the North Shore this season.
"I think it's the toughest its been in about a decade," he said. "Cedarburg, Port, Whitefish Bay, they're all the real deal."
Meanwhile, Millard is hoping to get bodies back so the team can be a little more competitive in duals. He was happy to praise the four seniors who were honored this night (Mueller, Zimmerman, the injured Beau Holter and Condon) in a special program that was given out to fans.
"Those kids put in so much time and effort and have taken so much from me, that the least I could do is give them each a nice little write-up," Millard said with a laugh.
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