Two Verona wrestlers finished in the top nine at the Tom McGarvie Scramble Saturday in Watertown.
Every match will be a learning experience and test for a Verona wrestling team looking to rebuild after some injuries.
Six Verona freshmen had their first wrestling matches last week in a dual meet against Janesville Craig Friday and at the Tom McGarvie Scramble Saturday.
Each wrestled five matches and was placed in a bracket with wrestlers of a similar ability.
Verona finished 15th out of 16 teams in Watertown but had two wrestlers finish in the top nine.
“What is nice about a scramble format is you get equal competition at the end of the day,” co-head coach Bob Wozniak said. “That is what we look for.”
With a young team, some wrestlers weren’t ready to face experienced juniors or seniors early on, Wozniak said, leading the Wildcats to forfeit several weight classes against a dominant Craig team and instead face junior varsity competition.
“Our freshmen care, and that is a good start,” Wozniak said. “We want them to care if they win or lose. We knew we couldn’t win the dual. Those guys probably had a better match on JV.”
But Wozniak, who is in his 21st year as a coach, said the freshmen wrestled well for their first matches of their careers and he likes their potential despite the lopsided loss to Craig.
“I think this can be one of the best classes Verona has ever had and I had some good ones in the early 2000s,” he said. “I don’t think they ever want to see that (score) again, especially as they get older … Some day I think the freshmen will be doing that to people.”
Sophomore Ben Grandau finished 2-3 at 126 pounds and took seventh place, and freshman Cael Wozniak went 3-2 to take ninth at 138 at the Tom McGarvie Scramble on Saturday.
Verona finished 15th with 89 points. Mineral Point captured the team title, outdistancing DC Everest 469-433. Big Eight Conference rival Middleton took third (421).
Grandau pinned New London’s Ian Standerfer in 3 minutes, 43 seconds. Ozaukee’s Travis Simpson then pulled out an 8-6 sudden-death victory.
Grandau bounced back to knock off Horicon’s Chance Tuttle 12-3. He then lost a nail-biter to Pewaukee’s Nathan Carerros 8-7.
Cael Wozniak was pinned by New Richmond’s Mason Kloehn in 4:52. He then was pinned by Whitewater’s Jaden Salmieri in 1:59. He rebounded by pinning Winneconne’s Emmric Hanke in 1:48 and sticking Beloit Memorial’s Carlos Lopez in 4:27. Watertown’s Jose Rivera then pinned him in 1:36.
Other wrestlers who won matches were freshman Sean Parry, who went 2-3 and took 10th at 120, freshman Logan Neuroth (132), who went 2-3 to finish 10th, junior Zak Morrison (145), who was 1-4 to take 11th, freshman Spencer Lokken (152), who went 2-3 to finish 14th and junior Caden Page (170), who was 2-3 to take 10th.
Craig 69, Verona 6
Grandau won the only match Friday for the Wildcats in a season-opening 69-6 Big Eight Conference loss to Janesville Craig.
Grandau, who has a judo background, used his experience to pin Hunter Klietz in 3:22.
“He’s very athletic and likes to throw people,” Wozniak said of Grandau. “People are scared of that. He was aggressive on top, turned a kid and pinned him.”
The Wildcats forfeited five weight classes – 152, 182, 195, 220 and heavyweight.
There were several other close matches that could have gone either way. Freshman Ashton LaBarge (113) lost 7-5 in sudden death when Janesville Craig’s Belle Goethe had a takedown after it was tied at the end of three periods. Labarge scored on a takedown in the final 120 seconds in the third period to force the extra session. At 138, Craig’s Joey Bellomo had an escape with 13.9 seconds to go to clip Cael Wozniak, 1-0.