NR wrestlers get two state placewinners
For the first time in team history, the New Richmond Tigers wrestling team had two wrestlers place at the WIAA Division 1 State Tournament, with Shane Blackman taking sixth place at 126 pounds and Derek Dowd finishing sixth at 138 pounds.
“Getting these two wrestlers to place at the state level is a really big step for us as a team,” New Richmond coach Mark Neumann said. “All of our kids who beat us in sectionals placed at state, which means, if we work hard, we are very close to getting more kids on the podium.”
Blackman, who had made it to the state tournament for the fourth time in his high school career and was the No. 6 ranked wrestler at the tournament, didn’t finish quite how he wanted to, but Neumann was still very impressed with the way he was able to control his matches and take down some big opponents.
“Shane has been hurt the entire year, so he hasn’t been able to participate in practice fully like he has in the past,” Neumann said. “In the end, I think that was what hurt him. But he looked great against his first few opponents and beat some really highly ranked opponents.”
After winning his first match of the tournament against Racine Case senior Taylor Choinski, 4-2, Blackman knocked off Bay Port senior Chase Farr, and the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the tournament at 126 pounds, by a score of 9-5.
“There was a lot of buzz in the arena after that match,” Neumann said. “It was a big upset for Shane to take the kids down and he did it pretty easily. It wasn’t even close. He controlled the match the whole time and I think it was his best match he has ever wrestled in his career.”
The win over Farr shot Blackman into the semifinals where he was pitted against the No. 2 ranked wrestler in the tournament in Kaukauna senior Kolton Jansen. Blackman ended up losing the match 15-14, but a controversial call at the end of the match ended up being the only difference between a win and a loss for Blackman.
“Shane got a really killer draw for the tournament and faced really tough competition the whole time. Everyone he wrestled in the tournament was rated very high,” Neumann said. “Even though he didn’t have one of his best matches, Shane pushed until the end and never gave up even though he was down by six with 10 or 12 seconds left.”
Controversy struck with about 20 seconds remaining in the match when the referee made an out-of-bounds call when Neumann, and most of the stadium, could clearly see that both players bodies were fully in bounds. At the time, Neumann had Jansen down on the mat and could have picked up at least a few points if not for the out-ofbounds call. With 10 seconds left on the clock, Blackman was able to get Jansen in a headlock and, according to Neumann, appeared to pin Jansen in time to steal the win. However, the referee didn’t make the call for a pin, but instead gave Blackman five points for the move. The five points left Blackman one point behind Jansen, who ended up pulling out the victory.
“He was so close to the finals and his goals to not make it,” Neumann said. “It was really tough for him to have things end that way in his final trip to the tournament. That match was really the highlight of the tournament though. Everyone was talking about it and a lot of people were there to watch.”
In his two placement matches, a 6-5 loss to Muskego’s Austin Quartullo and a 6-4 loss to Milwaukee Riverside/Shorewood’s Justin Folley in the fifth-place match, Blackman was in control for most of the bouts, but he ended up losing both matches by a total of three points.
“He controlled those matches for the first five minutes, 30 seconds, but in the end he was a little flat footed and lost it,” Neumann said.
Blackman finished the season with a 29-5 record.
Dowd’s first-round match did not go as well as Blackman’s, with Dowd falling to Sauk Prairie senior Austin Fjoser, 12-5. Luckily, Fjoser went on to beat his next opponent, giving Dowd the opportunity to match up against that wrestler for the right to continue in the tournament.
“Derek was in one of the toughest weight classes at the tournament,” Neumann said. “The first guy he wrestled was a very muscular, physical specimen and was huge for a 138-pound guy. Derek put up a good fight, but just couldn’t beat him.”
In his wrestleback match, Dowd faced Bay Port senior Chap Hietpas, who had been upset in his first match the day before. Dowd led 1-0 early, but the match turned in Hietpas’ favor late in the round with Hietpas going up 2-1. In the final 20 seconds, Hietpas was able to get Dowd down on the mat, but the referee whistled play dead with four seconds left when Dowd’s nose, which had been hit earlier in the match, began to bleed again.
Neumann and Dowd used the pause in the action to come up with a final game plan to give Dowd a chance at the win. Dowd used those four seconds well and was able to get a switch and a reversal for two points to complete the upset win.
“It was a great match and really propelled Derek through his next couple matches,” Neumann said. “He won his next match 5-0, which meant he would make the podium, which was awesome. He worked all summer to get better and was seeing results at the tournament.”
Even though Dowd had some momentum on his side, he was unable to get past Stevens Point sophomore Fritz Schierl in his next match, which forced him into the fifth-place match, which he also lost, this time to Waterford junior Max Fisher, 5-3.
“Those last two matches were really tough ones that Derek had a chance to win,” Neumann said. “He ended up taking sixth place, which was very cool for him. It proved that he could wrestle with anyone in the state.”
The Tiger wrestling team loses a few members of its team to graduation this year, but Neumann feels confident that if the team practices hard this summer and next year that it can get more wrestlers to the state tournament.
“I hope that we can do a good job this offseason and be ready for next year,” Neumann said. “We will continue to work hard and hopefully we will start to get better. If we can get better, maybe we can win a few more matches that we lost this year and get more guys into the tournament.”