Four wrestlers place at state
Hortonville’s Skebba makes it to finals
By Greg Seubert
None of the six area wrestlers that competed at the WIAA State Individual Wrestling Meet returned home with a championship, but four of them came close.
Hortonville’s Wyatt Skebba turned in the highest finish, as he advanced to the Division 1 113-pound championship match Feb. 26 at the Kohl Center in Madison, but fell to Wisconsin Rapids’ Preston Spray 2-0.
Meanwhile, New London’s Wyatt Magolski and De Evian Ross placed third and fifth in Division 2 at 106 and 220, respectively, while Weyauwega-Fremont’s Kaleb Mannel placed fourth in Division 3 at 126. Two other wrestlers, New London’s Austin Schmallenberg (Division 2, 132) and Weyauwega-Fremont’s Vanden Hoffman (Division 3, 220), did not place.
Skebba advanced to the championship match with a 16-1 technical fall over Wauwatosa West/East’s Oliver Crum, a 15-1 major decision over Milton’s Aiden Slama and a 6-4 sudden victory over defending state champion Noah Tonsor of Slinger.
The win over Tonsor matched Skebba against Spray, who came into the meet with a 51-2 record. Skebba wrapped up his junior season with a 32-3 record.
Magolski had a bye in the first round and advanced to the semifinals with a 6-0 win over Amery’s Brendan Burke. He dropped a 6-2 decision to eventual champion Charlie Meudt of Dodgeville in the semifinals and won a pair of matches in the wrestleback round to place third. He handed Chilton/Hilbert’s Hunter Heller a 9-2 loss before picking up a 6-5 win over Darlington/Black Hawk’s Ethan Aird in the third-place match.
Ross also had a bye in the first round and pinned Tomahawk’s Marcus Matti in 3:31, but was pinned in 31 seconds by eventual champion Koy Hopke of Amery in the semifinals. Ross then dropped a 12-6 decision to Richland Center’s Teige Perkins and moved on to the fifth-place match, which he won by medical forfeit over Peshtigo’s Connor Thomas.
Schmallenberg dropped an 18-3 technical fall to Darlington/Black Hawk’s Owen Seffrood in his first-round match.
Another New London wrestler made the trip to Madison to watch her teammates.
Girls in wrestling
Freshman Hailie Krueger won the 145-pound championship Jan. 29 at the first-ever WIAA State Girls’ Wrestling Tournament in La Crosse.
“By now, it’s sunk in and I’m really proud of it,” she said. “I’m just so excited that I was able to do it.”
Krueger, daughter of New London wrestling coach Nate Krueger, saw her name on the Kohl Center scoreboard as one of 14 state champions from the girls’ tournament.
“The first time I saw it, I went, ‘They’re recognizing me,’” she said. “It was really cool to see me and the other 13 girls.”
Krueger took an interest in wrestling through her dad and brother, who began wrestling while in kindergarten.
“He’s younger,” she said. “I thought it looked fun. I’ve never liked to step out of my comfort zone and try new things, but my brother likes to try new things. I figured, if he can do it, why can’t I? I went out for wrestling and fell in love with it.”
Krueger wasn’t the only girl on the Bulldogs’ team this season, as Zaylie Reimer and Eve Hedtke also wrestled.
“It definitely helped having other girls who knew what I felt like, understood what we were going through and what we had to do to make this possible,” she said.
Although Krueger’s season ended, she said she still felt like part of the team.
“We get along really well and all the guys make me feel like part of the team, not just like someone who’s trying to be,” she said. “Wyatt has been one of the best practice partners I’ve ever had. He’s amazing.”
Krueger’s plans down the road are to return to state.
“It makes me want to work so much harder,” she said. “There are going to be more girls coming up, so I’m going to need to show people that I can do this and I’m as good as the state title says I am.”
Mannel named CWC wrestler of year
Mannel had a bye in the first round and advanced to the semifinals by pinning Random Lake’s David San Felippo in 3:51. That win set up a matchup with defending state champion Brayden Sonnentag of Cadott.
It was a chance for Mannel to avenge a 1-0 loss to Sonnentag earlier this season, but Sonnentag held on for a another 1-0 win and went on to win his third straight state championship.
Third place was still a possibility for Mannel and he opened his wrestleback matches by pinning Royall’s Colin McKittrick in 2:21. That pin placed him in the third-place match against Fennimore’s Brent Birchman, but Mannel ended up on the short end of a 6-5 score to end his senior season with a 44-3 record.
He also recorded a school-record 120 takedowns, was named the Central Wisconsin Conference wrestler of the year, won seven individual tournament titles received all-state honors by placing in the top six at state.
“Kaleb wrestled really well in the state tournament and came within a point of winning two tough matches,” coach Tim Potratz said. “He has such a great combination of speed and power that he is just fun to watch.”
Hoffman pinned Kewaunee’s Matthew Boeder in the first round in 1:51, but was pinned in 1:57 by Reedsville’s Cole Ebert in the quarterfinals. That loss placed him in the wrestleback round, where he dropped a 5-4 decision to Stratford’s Cole Marten.
Hoffman, a sophomore, posted a 37-10 record; had 18 pins and 56 takedowns; and won three tournament titles.
“Vanden was not intimidated by the big stage of the state tournament,” Potratz said. “He wrestled with confidence and stayed aggressive through the entire tournament. We can’t wait for next year.”