Praschak wrestles to third‐place finish at state
After being knocked out of last year’s WIAA Division 2 State Individual Wrestling Tournament, Somerset 182pound wrestler Max Praschak set a goal for himself to place at state this season. By the end of the weekend, Praschak had done just that by claiming third place in the 182-pound weight class.
“Max went 0-1 last year and didn’t want that to happen again this year,” Somerset coach Trent Larrieu said. “His goals for this season were really high and he even changed them to wanting to win state this year about halfway through the season.”
Praschak, who is a junior, had a bye in the first round of the tournament, and was able to easily pin his second opponent, West Salem/Bangor senior Nick Bulsman, Larrieu said. However, Praschak ran up against a strong opponent in Two Rivers senior Bobby Geiger, who Praschak fell to by a score of 4-2.
“I think he ran into a little bit of stadium shock in the semis since there weren’t a lot of people around for his first match, but by the semis the stadium is full,” Larrieu said. “He started a little slow and wasn’t able to get much going on his feet. Finishing was also a problem for him against Geiger.”
Geiger went up 3-0, but Praschak picked up an escape to get a point and make it 3-1. Praschak added another point later on in the match when he got Geiger to stall for time, which he was called for, giving Praschak a point and cutting the lead to one. However, Praschak could not pick up the take down points he needed to overtake Geiger and ended up losing the match.
“Max had to wrestle right away the next morning after his loss and everyone was waiting to see how he would handle the loss and whether or not he would just give up since he had already guaranteed himself a place on the podium,” Larrieu said. “But he responded well and made it past two tough kids, the No. 2 and No. 3 ranked guys in the tournament, to take third.”
In both of his final two matches, Praschak needed to score the last points and hold on to his lead to pull off the wins. He did just that against Broadhead/Juda junior Gavin Baade, winning 9-6, as well as in the third-place match against Wittenberg-Birnamwood sophomore August Peplinkski. Praschak defeated Peplinkski 2-1.
“Max did a really good job of not giving up and taking it to the last two guys he wrestled,” Larrieu said. “I told him that this would be a test of his character and he could either take the loss in stride and battle back or he could pack it up and go home with sixth place. He chose to battle and it got him a thirdplace finish.” Praschak finished his junior season with a 39-4 overall record and is the first state place winner coached by Larrieu in his first season as Spartan head coach.
Somerset’s other state qualifying wrestler, 145pound wrestler Bailey White, was pinned in the opening round by Chilton/Hilbert junior Austin Keuler.
“It was Bailey’s first time down there and I think he had a bit of a shock from the venue and how many people were there,” Larrieu said. “He wrestled well in his match, but gave up a quick five points, which was hard to battle back from.”
After giving up the early five points, White tried to work his way back into the match, but was never able to make a complete comeback. He almost had Keuler down at one point in the match, but Keuler was able to turn things around and get White down for a pin.
“Bailey had a tough season since he was out for about half of it with a hamstring injury,” Larrieu said. “But he worked his butt off to get back on the mat and meet his goals, which included making it out of regionals then making it to state. He wasn’t satisfied with how things ended.”
The Spartans lose just two seniors to graduation this year, including White and Gage Kreucher.
“White’s spot will be hard to fill since he was such a good worker and strong wrestler, but we have a good group of young wrestlers coming in next year who have something to prove,” Larrieu said. “The kids really put the time in to become better wrestlers, which is good to see.”