Somerset's Gabe Flandrick finishes second at state wrestling for second time in career
It was the chance Somerset senior Gabe Flandrick had waited a lifetime for.
And he had to wrestle it with one arm that was almost unusable.
Flandrick advanced to the Division 2 160-pound championship match in the WIAA State Individual Wrestling Championships at the Kohl Center in Madison on Saturday. Flandrick was competing with a separated shoulder, but he still nearly defeated Ellsworth's Gable Frandsen, losing to Frandsen 5-4.
This was the second straight year that Flandrick reached the state championship match. Last year he lost in the 138-pound finals to four-time state champion Jared Donar, 3-0.
Flandrick is the first four-time state qualifier for Somerset and he was hoping to continue the progression of success he'd built in his first three years at state. Flandrick finished fourth at state as a freshman, third as a sophomore and second as a junior. Flandrick owns most of the Somerset wrestling records, including most wins. He finishes with a career record of 164-18. He finishes the season with a 43-3 record.
Flandrick was part of a deeply talented 160-pound Division 2 class. Because there were highly-ranked state champions returning at 152 (Seth Liegel of River Valley) and 170 pounds (Jacob Morrissey of Oconto Falls), several top wrestlers moved to 160 pounds for the tournament series.
Flandrick opened the tournament against Dan Squires of Wisconsin Lutheran, notching a 7-4 win. In the quarterfinals Flandrick faced Marshall senior Cole Hansen, who had defeated Flandrick at state when they were freshmen. Flandrick was able to get some long-awaited revenge, scoring a takedown in the final seconds of the match to win 3-1.
In the semifinals Flandrick faced Marinette senior Jared Boivin. The match was tied 1-1 at the end of regulation. In the overtime Flandrick shot in for a low single-leg takedown. As he finished the move, "his shoulder was pulled out of the socket," according to Somerset coach Mitch Flandrick, Gabe's dad. When the younger Flandrick was still screaming in pain five minutes after the match, the Spartan coaches recognized the severity of the injury.
Flandrick iced his injured shoulder for the 24-hours leading up to the title match, but he was still in considerable pain. He did almost no warming up for the match, not wanting to risk further aggravating the injury.
Flandrick had beaten Frandsen 9-6 in the Middle Border Conference championships, but he had to alter his approach significantly for the title match. Flandrick surprised everyone by getting a takedown in the first period. Flandrick is known as an exceptional rider, but the injury took away his ability to ride and Frandsen was able to escape. Flandrick was called for a penalty point early in the second period, tying the score at 2-2. With five seconds left in the period Flandrick was able to break free from Frandsen's ride, getting an escape to lead 3-2.
Frandsen took the down position for the third period and Flandrick decided to let him up immediately, knowing he wouldn't be able to maintain his ride. Frandsen was able to score a takedown 30 seconds into the period. Flandrick got an escape, but Frandsen blocked all of Flandrick's takedown attempts in the final minute of the match.
Coach Flandrick said his son left no doubt he'd wrestle on Saturday, no matter the severity of the injury.
"He told us, if he had to wrestle with one arm, he was still going out there. It's a tough sport. They are all fighting injuries," Coach Flandrick said. "He blocked it out for the most part, but he said in the third period it was really affecting him."
In true wrestler mentality, Flandrick quickly got over the disappointment and reset his goals. He will be wrestling at Minnesota State-Mankato and his new goal is to win a college national championship.
Somerset was also represented at state by senior Bobby LeRoy and sophomore Max Praschak.
This was LeRoy's third year at state, but this season's trip wasn't as successful. LeRoy opened the tournament against Tristan Zurfluh of Sparta. LeRoy led 1-0 entering the third period, but gave up a reversal early in the final period. LeRoy couldn't break free from Zurfluh's ride, losing 2-1.
LeRoy then faced Monroe senior Kevin Klopfenstein in the wrestlebacks. All of LeRoy's scoring attempts were blocked and Klopfenstein scored a 5-0 win, eliminating LeRoy from the tournament. Both of LeRoy's opponents ended as placewinners, with Zurfluh finishing fourth and Klopfenstein fifth.
LeRoy finishes his career with the second highest win total in Spartan history, winning 132 matches over his four years. He ends his senior season with a 38-7 record.
"His leadership will really be missed," Coach Flandrick said. "He set an example for the younger kids on how to do things."
Praschak had an extremely tough draw in his opening match, Luxemburg-Casco senior Jordan Pardowsky, who went on to take second place. Praschak was able to wrestle competitively with Pardowsky until the third period. Pardowsky was able to work an arm bar on Praschak, pinning him at the 4:38 mark. Praschak finished the season with a 22-13 record.