Youthful Germantown grapplers come up just short of Bay in NSC dual opener
Sophomores dominate Warhawks team
Whitefish Bay wrestling coach Dale Loebel estimates that there were four or five times senior 182-pound wrestler Ed Dixon could have quit in his match with Germantown senior Hunter Valenta on Dec. 5.
With Bay nursing a 25-18 lead in the team score, Dixon had fallen behind by 8-1, 13-4 and 15-8 margins, but in a match that featured several wild swings of momentum, Dixon caught Valenta and pinned at 4:29 in the third period.
Teammate Steve Meyer then followed that with a pin of his own in 1:55 at 195 and that was enough of a margin for the Blue Dukes to pull off a 41-33 victory in the opening North Shore Conference dual meet of the season.
"He decided to come off his back and that was the difference," Loebel said of Dixon. "...I knew that this would be a competitive dual. We did well in spots and breaks that could have gone against us went our way tonight."
A big difference in the match, is that Loebel has an upperclassmen- and upper weights-dominated lineup this season. Of the 21 athletes he as out this winter, he has 11 juniors. He had to replace state-tourney participants like Max Carlin, Joey Davey and Rashadeem Gray, a total of more than 400 career wins, but was encouraged by the start.
Meanwhile, new Germantown coach Jeff Szohr, who replaces Casey Gabrielsen this season, has a bigger roster (39), but notes that his team is very young with 33 of those athletes being underclassmen.
Focusing on fundamentals
"I'd like to pin this loss on the fact that we just need to get a few more practices in with this young group," he said. "They (the Blue Dukes) have 17 or 18 upperclassmen. That's a big difference. We're taking a step back in the way we deal with things this season. Not a lot of live wrestling (in practice), but a lot of drilling, and a big focus on fundamentals."
Germantown got off to a good start in the match, when sophomore James Nguyen rallied from an early deficit to earn a pin over Blue Dukes junior Justin Weil in 5:16 at 120 pounds.
After Bay junior Jack Ludke rallied for a 4-3 decision over Warhawks sophomore Dante Beal at 126, Germantown went up 12-3 with an impressive pin (1:42) by 132-pound freshman Waymon McNeal.
Bay started coming back with an 18-5 major decision by junior Miguel Gomez over Germantown junior Dakotah Barnes at 138, and the Blue Dukes then took their first lead of the evening at 13-12 when junior Jack Plale pinned Warhawks junior Samuel Haferkorn in 4:56 at 145 pounds.
The Warhawks grabbed their last lead of the match at 152, when sophomore Thomas Nelson stuck Bay's Jamal Brown in 1:51.
But when Blue Dukes junior Joe Lehrmann pinned Germantown sophomore Landon Valenta in 2:54 at 160 pounds, that would start a streak of five straight Bay victories that would seal the match win for them.
Lehrmann's win was followed by a pin in 1:11 by his older brother, senior ace of the team Ben Lehrmann at 170. He defeated another Warhawks sophomore, Chandler Langmann.
That was followed by Dixon's pivotal victory at 182 and by Meyer's flattening of Germantown freshman Jarred Welnak at 195. When Bay senior Joe Beck hit Warhawks sophomore David Nilles with a 13-2 major decision at 220 the meet was decided, as Bay had a 41-18 lead.
The Warhawks picked up the final three match victories, including a forfeit to two-time state qualifying senior Hunter Higginbotham at 285 ("His goal is to be a state champion this year," Szohr said); a pin in 3:39 by highly regarded sophomore Zach Szohr over Bay sophomore Cooper Fergus at 106 and a 4-3 decision by freshman Joe Lutz over Blue Dukes freshman Jonah Nelson at 113.
Younger Szohr impressive
Zach Szohr came into high school over a year ago as a multitime state youth champion but weighed only 80-plus pounds so he was simply overpowered in matches at 106. This year, however, his coach (and dad) Jeff said Zach is now going around 102 pounds so people will get to see what his talent really looks like.
"The kids are making adjustments," coach Szohr said. "I think we can still get some things done this year."
The Warhawks had opened their season on Dec. 4 with a 78-6 nonconference victory over Kettle Moraine Lutheran as Landon Valenta at 160, Hunter Valenta at 170, Langmann at 182, Nilles at 220, McNeal at 132, Haferkorn at 145, Nelson at 152, and Higginbotham at 285, all recorded pins.
Germantown visits Cedarburg in another North Shore dual at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and then will be at the Hartford Invitational at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 14.
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