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Bumpy ride for Warhawks

Vanden Hoffman wrapped up his wrestling career at Weyauwega-Fremont High School by placing second at 285 pounds in Division 3 at the WIAA State Individual Wrestling Championships in Madison. Hoffman defeated his first two opponents before dropping a 2-1 decision to Fennimore’s Evan Gratz in the championship match. Melissa Thomas Photo

Hoffman places second

By Greg Seubert

All Vanden Hoffman wanted was to wrap up his final season of high school wrestling with his first state championship.

The Weyauwega-Fremont senior almost got his wish.

Hoffman made it to the championship round Feb. 24 at the WIAA State Individual Wrestling Championships in Madison, but ended up on the short end of a 2-1 score to defending state champion Evan Gratz of Fennimore in the Division 3 285-pound title match.

He headed to state as the No. 2 seed in his bracket with a 42-1 record, had a bye in the first round and made it to the final after defeating Lomira’s Warren Sauer 9-3 and pinning Coleman’s Kain Otto in 3:19.

“Vanden finished the season with a 44-2 record, 31 pins and 72 takedowns,” coach Tim Potratz said. “He won six tournament titles as a senior and was a three-time state qualifier and two-time all-state wrestler, placing third as a junior and second as a senior.”

Hoffman was one of eight Warhawks to qualify for state, along with Jaydon LeNoble (106), Josue Azuara (113), Carter Birdyshaw (132), Aiden Marquette (144), Connor Johnson (157), Carter McDaniel (165) and Tellyer Alix (190).

LeNoble, Azuara, Marquette, Johnson and Alix ended their season after dropping their first-round matches.

Birdyshaw and McDaniel also had a bye in the first round, but lost their quarterfinal match and had to come back through the consolation round.

McDaniel picked up a 4-0 win over De Soto’s Seth Greeno and an 8-7 win over Johnson Creek’s Taylor Joseph, but fell 9-0 to Iowa Grant/Highland’s Emmerson Moen in the third-place match to finish fourth.

“Carter finished his junior season with a 45-9 record, 27 pins and 50 takedowns,” Potratz said. “He won four tournaments this year and earned the title of all-state wrestler with his great showing at the state tournament.”

Weyauwega-Fremont’s Carter McDaniel wrestles Johnson Creek’s Taylor Joseph in a Division 3 165-pound consolation match. McDaniel picked up an 8-7 win in the match and went on to place fourth. Perry Thomas Photo

Potratz is expecting big things from the other state qualifiers.

“Freshmen Jaydon LeNoble (42-5), Josue Azuara (39-14) and Carter Birdyshaw all had outstanding rookie seasons that carried them all the way to the state tournament,” he said. “Juniors Aiden Marquette (32-13), Connor Johnson (40-13) and Tellyer Alix (40-14) all reached a lifelong dream of wrestling in the state tournament through hard work and dedication to the sport. They will all be back next year with championship aspirations as seniors.”

The season isn’t over for the Warhawks, as the team will return to Madison Saturday, March 2, for the WIAA State Team Wrestling Championships at the University of Wisconsin Field House.

Weyauwega-Fremont received a No. 2 seed and will face third-seeded Coleman at 10 a.m. Two-time defending Division 3 team champion and top seed Fennimore will face No. 4 Cumberland in the other semifinal. The semifinal winners will then wrestle for a state team championship at 3 p.m.

The Warhawks are the only Division 3 team making their first trip to state. Fennimore is back for the ninth time, Coleman is making its 17th appearance and Cumberland is back for the second time.

Other teams advancing to the tournament are Kaukauna, Muskego, Wisconsin Rapids, Menomonie, Mukwonago, Hartford, Arrowhead and Homestead in Division 1; and Luxemburg-Casco, St. Croix Falls, Prairie du Chien and Kewaskum in Division 2.

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