A wrestling team has to have stamina if it wants to do well in the 66-team Oshkosh on the the Water Invitational, the mother of all Wisconsin prep holiday grappling events, and Germantown had just that, as behind 138-pounder Mason Wheeler's third-place finish, the Warhawks claimed a competitive 13th in the event, Dec. 29 and 30.
"It was fantastic," said Warhawk coach Jeff Szohr. "The kids really stepped up. It goes with our philosophy, we just keep repping and repping, repeating the drills like championship fighters so we can get in the best shape possible. A lot of other teams are doing the same thing, so we want to be ready for them."
The Warhawks, who will take on Whitefish Bay in a North Shore dual on Jan. 5 and then will be at the West Bend Duals on Saturday, Jan. 7, scored 157.5 points for their spot as small school power Coleman won with 333.
Wheeler had terrific stamina, going 7-1 over the two-day event to improve to 22-2 overall. His only loss was a 9-3 decision to the eventual runner-up from Waupaca in the semifinals, and almost all his wins were full-distance decisions.
"It was a stacked bracket," Szohr said. "Mason beat several seeded wrestlers in very workmanlike fashion. We preach staying (mentally) up. In something like this, you have to be ready to work for 10 hours sometimes. Some can't do it, but Mason could."
Waymon McNeal at 145 was 4-2 overall in the two-day event (20-2 overall), losing a controversial, sudden-death overtime match in the semifinal to a Hortonville opponent. Szohr said the takedown that was awarded in the OT was nebulous at best.
"But he knew he had a chance to win it in OT," Szohr said. "You just have to put yourself in the best position possible. It's better this happened now rather than at state because Waymon's proven he's legit.This was a real experience for him."
Freshman Isaac Riddle continued to show he's legitimate, too, going 5-2 (20-4 overall) and taking fifth at 126.
"We can always count on him going as long as it takes," Szohr said.
The only real disappointment for the Warhawks was 285-pounder Dominique Bennett, who came into the tourney with high hopes but came into the event ill and had to settle for eighth, going 4-3 (18-4 overall).
"He really didn't want to make any excuses, but you could tell he was really under the weather," said Szohr.
Others who came close to medaling and still turned in good efforts were Colton Birkigt at 106 (2-2 and 15-6), Kevin Tamboli at 120 (3-2, 15-6), Eric Abel at 132 (4-2, 14-8), Asher Anderson at 152 (2-2, 3-2) and Jerry Bagley at 170 (2-2, 10-9).
"We've got to get ourselves in the mindset that we're climbing a ladder," Szohr said. "Program yourself to the idea that you're going to mow guys down."