Langlade County wrestling rivals faced off on the mats in Antigo Thursday|
For any wrestling fan in Langlade County Thursday, Antigo’s Sheldon Fieldhouse got the season started off with a bang with a dual between cross county foes, Antigo and Elcho. Two young, eager teams duked it out on the mat for bragging rights for the unofficial county title. In an exciting back and forth, roller-coaster atmosphere, both Antigo and Elcho gave their best with only one being able to come out victorious.
As Antigo head coach Dallas Moe said, “I knew it was going to be an exciting night but I couldn’t have written a better script for the first dual of the year. Talk about a barn burner to start the year.”
The night started off very traditionally, at the lightest weight class, 106.
Elcho came away with six points to start off the night, coming off the forfeit received by Brennan Livermore. The night didn’t get much more exciting at 113 as both teams slots were empty resulting in a double forfeit.
“It was a good early season dual,” Elcho coach Bobby Stimac said. “It is always a tall task early in the season to have your team ready.”
However, that all changed at 120 where Antigo was able to send out its first wrestler Seth Doering to face Elcho’s own Robert Houle.
In a very tense, back and forth battle, both wrestlers were fighting off of their backs at one time or another. But just as the match was about to end, Doering gained the upper hand and finished the match on top, thus scoring Antigo’s first three points of the season with the 17-10 victory.
That started the momentum that Antigo seemed to run away with for the next couple of weights.
At 126, Antigo’s Dylan Hunter, calmly and coolly took care of Elcho’s Roman Noel. Hunter was in control almost the entire match and he earned a well-deserved pin just before the second buzzer of the match. The official fall time was 3:57 as Hunter earned six for the Robins.
“We were a little short-handed in eligibility, and knew the dual was going to be a pretty close match,” the Elcho coach explained. “Inexperience showed itself early on but experience also showed up to land us the dual.”
In a battle of seniors, Elcho’s Colton Dvorak and Antigo’s Kirk Prince faced off at 132. In a very high paced and aggressive match, Prince was the wrestler in control. Continuously putting Dvorak on his back, Prince was able to score but couldn’t quite get the pin. He did however earn the technical fall in 4:00 earning Antigo another five points.
At 138 Elcho got a little breathing room from Will Micke. Micke was able to dispatch Antigo freshman Michael Keyser with a quick pin of 0:57. This match was a little bittersweet for the Antigo coaches because just two years ago, Micke was a freshman for Antigo.
“I’m really glad to see Will succeed, but I wish it wasn’t against us.” he chuckled. “Will started here and ended up in Elcho for reasons out of our hands, but we couldn’t be prouder of the wrestler he has become.”
At 145, Antigo’s other freshman, Will Dixon, got six points right back. He answered Micke’s quick pin with a 1:10 pin of his own against Elcho’s Ryan McFadden.
“This was Will’s first match as a high schooler and on varsity,” said Moe. “I’m hoping this is a good sign of things to come. We are really excited about Dixon this year.”
At this point the match seemed to be all Antigo, with the Red Robins leading 20-12. But Elcho was just getting started.
At 152 the fans got to see another upperclassman battle between Elcho’s Eric Hurkmans and Antigo’s Tony Meister.
Despite an action packed first period, the score going into the second round was still 0-0. That is where Hurkmans broke out and took it to Meister. By the end of the match, Hurkmans just missed the technical fall by one point, yet earned 4 for the team with a 17-3 major decision.
“Eric missed a lot of school due to illness and really fought hard in a tough match that swung the momentum back to us,” Stimac noted.
With 160 offering no action, as it was another double forfeit due to Elcho moving Alec Smith up to 170 to get a match vs. Antigo’s Jake Steenweg. Despite Steenweg’s best efforts, Smith was able to work him into submission and eventually earned the fall in another close to the buzzer pin in 3:57.
With those two matches in the books it brought the team scores to 20-22 Elcho. At 182, Antigo received its first forfeit of the night with Nick Stuckert securing six more points for Antigo. The score of 26-22 Antigo, was keeping the crowd on the edge of their seats.
At 195, Elcho’s arguably best wrestler of the night, Joey Johnson came out to face Antigo’s Garrett Becerra. Johnson dominated the match dispatching of Becerra in the second period with a pin in 3:11. To follow that, Elcho received another forfeit at 220, sending out Trinton Menomin to take the free six points.
Those two weight classes brought the score to 34-26, taking the win out of Antigo’s grasp. Yet there was still one match to go.
At heavyweight, Elcho’s Mark Hanson put the finishing touches on their big win by pinning Antigo’s Devon Brisby in a lightning 11 seconds.
“We wrestled really tough for having such a young and inexperienced team,” commented Moe. “I’m really proud of these guys on how they handled themselves tonight. They were fearless and aggressive, and they used all the things that we’ve been working on. I’m really looking forward to this season on the individual level.”
“It was a good night of wrestling, the kids on both squads worked hard,” Stimac added. “We leave Antigo, knowing as a team, there's a lot of hard work ahead so we can challenge Crandon for our conference title.
:Overall it was a great team win and we wish the Antigo wrestlers good luck for the rest of the season,” he concluded.
Antigo wrestles at their own home duals tournament this Saturday The John Roberts Duals starts at 9:45 a.m. in Sheldon Fieldhouse and lasts all day with nine other teams visiting for the day. Elcho travels to Crivitz for the 10 a.m. start.
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