Gartner, Volkert earn return trips to state
New Richmond seniors Bradley Gartner and Tom Volkert have one more shot to attain the biggest goal in their high school wrestling careers.
Gartner and Volkert will get the second opportunity of their careers to wrestle in the WIAA State Championships, starting this Thursday at the Kohl Fieldhouse in Madison.
Gartner wrestled at state as a sophomore and Volkert reached state as a junior. A long-term goal for both wrestlers has been to win a match at the state meet and then to finish in the top five in their weight class so they can stand on the state awards podium.
Gartner and Volkert have interesting opening draws at the state meet. Gartner heads into the state meet with a 37-4 record. His first opponent will be James Parker of Milwaukee Bradley Tech. Parker has a 37-3 record. These two wrestlers stand side-by-side in the Crossface state rankings, with Gartner ranked fifth at 130 pounds in Division 1 and Parker ranked sixth.
Volkert heads into the state meet with a 36-4 record and he is ranked third in the state at 215 pounds in Division 1. His opening opponent at state is Appleton North junior Kolby Knuth, who has a 30-12 record. The winner of that match will likely face La Crosse Logan senior Josh Viner. Viner is 39-2 this season and is ranked seventh at 215 by Crossface.
The opening match at the state meet will come during the Thursday afternoon session, which begins at 3 p.m.
The Tigers took 10 wrestlers to the sectional meet. While only two advanced to state, the Tigers were extremely competitive in each of their matches in the sectional meet.
Volkert is a Division 1 sectional champion for the Tigers. Volkert wrestled a restrained opening match at the sectional, beating Randy Platek of Rhinelander 3-1. In the semifinals Volkert showed the quickness that is rarely seen in wrestlers in the upper weights. He trailed to Greg Antonson of Eau Claire Memorial 2-1 after a period and Antonson started the second period in the top position. In a quick flurry, Volkert kept his hips moving and got out from under Antonson. Volkert caught Antonson's wrist on the way through and put Antonson right to his back, pinning him.
"That was Tom's best sequence of the day," said Tiger coach Mark Neumann.
Volkert moved to the finals, where he faced Evan Knutson of Wausau West, the fourth ranked D1 wrestler at 215. Volkert wrestled another smart, restrained match, scoring a 3-2 win to earn the sectional championship. Knutson then lost to Antonson in the wrestleback, making Antonson the second representative from the sectional at state.
Gartner rolled through his first match, getting a major decision over Michael Bell of Merrill, 11-1. In the semifinals Gartner faced Josh Konwinski of Chippewa Falls, who pulled off an upset in the opening round. Konwinski couldn't make it two upsets in a row, however. Gartner controlled the action and scored a 7-3 win.
That moved Gartner to the sectional 130-pound finals against Sam Umlauf of Wausau West, the top-ranked Division 1 wrestler in the state at 130. Coach Neumann said Gartner was a bit cautious against Umlauf and Umlauf used that to get an early advantage. Gartner wasn't able to overcome Umlauf's early lead, with Umlauf winning the sectional title 9-3.
The Tigers were hoping that senior Jared Kerr would also advance to the state meet, but he missed by one match, placing third at 125 pounds.
Kerr opened the sectional meet with an impressive meet, crushing Robert Stevenson of Marshfield in the opening round, 13-3. Kerr then faced Weston Olund of Merrill, the regional champion from the other half of the bracket.
"The kid was super long, 10 inches taller than Jared, at least," Neumann said. "He used that length and cradled Jared twice and that was the difference."
Olund scored a 10-4 win over Kerr. Olund then beat Hudson's Tyler Boumeester in the sectional final.
Kerr meanwhile, moved on to the third place match, where he overpowered Bee Vang of Wausau East 17-8. That moved Kerr into the second place match versus Boumeester.
The match was over quickly.
"Jared got caught with a neck wrench and couldn't get off his back and got pinned," Neumann said. "It was a fluky move you don't see very often."
Kerr ends his senior season with a 36-7 record.
Sophomore Joel Neumann was the only other Tiger to score a win at the sectional meet. The heavyweight class may have been the most talented class at the sectional meet and Neumann was able to place fourth. He opened the meet by pinning Merrill senior Luke Klade, who came in with a 33-8 record. Klade beat Neumann 5-0 at the sectional last year.
After a scoreless first period, Klade chose the bottom position for the second period. Neumann caught Klade in a chin drop move and pinned him.
That put Neumann into the semifinals against regional champion Niko Bogojevic of Superior. Bogojevic dominated Neumann at the regional, but not this time. Bogojevic got an escape in the second period and that proved to be the only point of the match.
"Joel earned a lot of respect for the way he wrestled Niko," Coach Neumann said.
That moved Neumann to the third place match against Jeff Raymond of Lakeland, who had won the regional title from the eastern regional. Raymond won 6-0. Neumann ends his sophomore season with a 32-12 record.
While the Tigers lost the rest of their opening matches at the sectional, they didn't go down quietly.
Sophomore Charlie Gartner had the longest match of the sectional, going to four overtimes before he lost his opening match in the 140-pound bracket. He lost to Dustin Schowalter of Lakeland, 3-1.
Tiger senior Jake Rebhan drew Wausau West senior Shawn Perry in the opening round at 145 pounds. Perry is the number one ranked wrestler in the state and had little trouble winning the sectional. Rebhan may have given Perry his most competitive match before being pinned late in the second period.
The Gillis boys put up a worthy fight in their sectional matches. John Gillis was in a close match in the 152-pound quarterfinals when he was caught and pinned by Jake Olson of Lakeland.
Justin Gillis lost to Merrill senior Craig Branvold 7-1 at 160 pounds. That was Branvold's 41st win of the season.
Tiger sophomore Cody Chouinard drew eventual sectional champion Luke Ortscheid of Wausau West in his opening match at the sectional. Chouinard gave Ortscheid a good workout before Ortscheid scored a 14-6 win.
Tiger senior Blake Jacobson lost in his opening match at the sectional at 189 pounds. Jacobson couldn't get any offense going and was beaten by Mat Rieckhoff of D.C. Everest, 5-1. Jacobson finishes his senior season with a 30-9 record.