Verona began its home dual against Madison Memorial with three convincing victories and won five of the nine contested matches, but injuries and absences caught up to the Wildcats.

The Spartans rallied for a 42-30 victory on Tuesday, Jan. 7, while Verona dropped to 0-4 in Big Eight Conference duals.

“We knew it would be close, and with two kids out sick, we knew it’d be hard to win even if we did everything right,” Wildcats coach Bob Wozniak said. “But we still wrestled well in the contested matches.”

Verona jumped out to an 18-0 lead thanks to pins from Ben Grandau (132 pounds), Logan Neuroth (138) and Atticus Marse (145).

Grandau, who has wrestled at 120 and 126 this season, pinned Brody Weiler at the 4-minute mark. Neuroth dominated Zolan Walker and finished off the match in 2:28.

Marse trailed 11-6 against Jon Prine, but a takedown set up his pin at the 4:56 mark of the match.

Verona’s Caden Page (170) pinned Tristin Bird in 3:19.

The 285-pound match featured a pair of ranked wrestlers. Memorial’s Patrick McDonald entered the dual ranked 11th in the heavyweight division, just ahead of Verona’s Jay Hanson.

McDonald defeated Hanson 6-5 at the Mount Horeb Invitational on Dec. 21, but Hanson avenged the loss with a pin in 3:35.

Wozniak anticipated the two will meet again at the Big Eight Conference meet, regionals and sectionals. He said a possible sectional matchup could determine who goes to state.

Verona’s Eric Blum (152), Spencer Lokken (160), Achilles Mendes (182) and Adam Murphy (195) lost by pin. Both teams forfeited at 113 and 126. The Wildcats forfeited at 106, 120 and 220.

Cael Wozniak, who had been wrestling at 145, is still out of the lineup with a separated shoulder he suffered at Mount Horeb. His father hopes to have him back before the end of the season.

The Wildcats return to action Saturday, Jan. 18, at the Chippewa Falls Invitational.