Juniorâ€™s 2nd-place finish leads feisty Ozaukee effort at state wrestling tournament
Entering last weekâ€™s WIAA Division 3 state individual tournament, Ozaukee junior Colton Kraus said that if he wrestled his best, he could do pretty well.
He just didnâ€™t know heâ€™d place second in the 113-pound weight class.
After a first-round bye, Kraus won twice to reach the title match Saturday at the Kohl Center, where he couldnâ€™t quite overcome an undefeated foe.
For Ozaukee senior Ethan Brouillette, just wrestling at all after a shoulder injury sidelined him most of the season was an accomplishment. Throw in a fourth-place finish at 152 pounds â€” his best in four trips to state â€” and heâ€™s an inspiration that left his coach in awe.
Also placing fourth for Ozaukee was junior Cole Large (120), who went toe to toe with the eventual state champion.
Ozaukee junior Kevin Beckmann (160) had never been to state before and said he didnâ€™t know what he was doing, yet a fifth-place medal around his neck said otherwise.
Four of the Warriorsâ€™ five state qualifiers earned medals in what coach Luke Gundrum described as one of the top two or three state performances in his programâ€™s history.
â€śI was hoping I was going to place down here,â€ť Kraus said. â€śComing out with second is pretty exciting.â€ť
Kraus, who finished the season 39-8, scored a 10-8 decision over Clear Lakeâ€™s Cody Shafer (39-10) and a 10-1 major decision over Cadottâ€™s Sean Sonnentag (40-8) to reach the title match. There, Cameronâ€™s Kal Gerber (47-0) outlasted Kraus, 9-3.
Gundrum said Kraus is among the most talented wrestlers heâ€™s coached.
â€śWe have not seen his best yet,â€ť Gundrum said. â€śHeâ€™ll be back.â€ť
Brouillette saved his best for last, improbable as it was. He injured his shoulder Dec. 8 and was presumed out for most, if not all, of the season.
Doctors determined the shoulder wasnâ€™t broken but that returning after eight weeks would be pushing it. Brouilletteâ€™s father, a chiropractor, said his son would be safe to go, and Brouillette worked after practice to get back into wrestling form.
Brouillette hadnâ€™t lost a match in his return until he got to state. He went 2-2 in Madison on the way to his first state medal.
â€śIt was a goal at the beginning of the season, but I didnâ€™t think Iâ€™d be here right now,â€ť Brouillette said. â€śIt feels great.â€ť
Brouillette (19-4) received a first-round bye before losing, 10-8, in a sudden-victory match against Weston/Ithacaâ€™s Cody Willis (40-8). He rebounded with a 6-2 win over Arcadiaâ€™s Jerry Hotelling (36-14) and a 7-5 decision over Reedsvilleâ€™s Grant Wedepohl (42-8) before losing, 4-0, to Edgarâ€™s Anthony Lemanski (37-6) in the third-place final.
â€śItâ€™s hard to put into words the journey here,â€ť Gundrum said of Brouillette. â€śItâ€™s as good as it gets.
â€śHeâ€™s an extremely hard-working kid. Itâ€™s great to see it finish like this.â€ť
Large nearly took out the eventual state champion â€” the two were tied going into the third period â€” on his way to fourth place, one place higher than last season.
â€śMost of my matches, I gave it my best,â€ť he said of his 3-2 state finish.
Large (39-11) opened with a 16-8 major decision over Cumberlandâ€™s Trey Lundequam (35-6) but lost, 9-4, to Lancasterâ€™s Cole Martin (49-4), who went on to win the title.
In the consolation bracket, Large scored a 16-6 major decision over Clear Lakeâ€™s Tim Anderson (42-8) and had an 8-4 win over Random Lakeâ€™s Brandon Depies (41-13) before losing, 15-5, to Colemanâ€™s Jensyn Schaal (40-5) in the third-place final.
â€śWe were right there,â€ť Gundrum said of the match against Martin. â€śItâ€™s exciting to think about next year.â€ť
Beckmann was excited about his effort, which included a win in his final match of the season. He made quick work of Laconiaâ€™s Mason Lind (35-17), pinning him in 31 seconds.
â€śI really didnâ€™t know what I was doing at first,â€ť he said. â€śIt feels great. A lot of the hard work is finally starting to pay off.â€ť
After a first-round bye, Beckmann (42-8) lost a 19-4 technical fall to Florenceâ€™s Cole Dollar (39-5), scored a 10-4 win over Hillsboroâ€™s Spencer Treu (37-12) and lost a 13-2 major decision to Colemanâ€™s Dexter Karban (32-10).
Beckmann led the Warriors in wins, pins and three-point near falls this season, and should be better as a senior, his coach said.
â€śIâ€™d say we have not hit the top. Iâ€™m excited to see what he can do next year,â€ť Gundrum said.
Ozaukeeâ€™s other state qualifier was 138-pound senior Logan Smith (38-8). He lost his only match, 4-2, to Arcadiaâ€™s Spencer Bisek.
Smith capped a career that puts him in the top 10 in wins in team history. He qualified for state three times and finished third last year.
â€śGreat career, great season,â€ť Gundrum said. â€śHeâ€™s an awesome kid, extremely intelligent and hard working.â€ť
Rocketsâ€™ two fall in first round
Cedar Grove-Belgiumâ€™s two state qualifiers met the same fate in Division 3, bowing out in tough first-round matches â€” one in a heartbreaker.
At 285 pounds, the Rocketsâ€™ Alex May (35-9) lost a 4-2 decision in the final seconds to Spencerâ€™s Kyle Andreae (45-4) of Spencer.
At 170, the Rocketsâ€™ Greg Wenzel (27-20) was pinned in 3:23 by Lancasterâ€™s David Chadd (47-8).
Cedar Grove-Belgium coach Trevor Peterson said May, a senior, was the aggressor in his match and tried to do too much to win in regulation rather than settling for overtime.
May went for a takedown and ended up surrendering points.
â€śI think Alex knows he should have won,â€ť Peterson said. â€śIt hurts him that he got to sit and watch.â€ť
Wenzel, a junior, lost to the third-place medalist.
â€śThe kid Greg faced was pretty tough,â€ť Peterson said. â€śHeâ€™s still got next year. Heâ€™s got a little taste of state.â€ť
Image Information: A STATE TITLE narrowly eluded Ozaukeeâ€™s Colton Kraus (top), who gave Cameronâ€™s Kal Gerber all he could handle before losing, 9-3, in the 113-pound championship match at the Division 3 state individual tournament Saturday. Photo by Mitch Maersch