Putting together a full lineup has been a major process for the Menomonee Falls wrestling team this winter.
The Indians are getting closer and closer, day by day, and when they do, the results just might be spectacular.
That's because the Indians, behind individual titles from Tyler Gill and Eric Wunsch, took a very strong second in the 19-team Homestead Highlander Scramble on Jan. 22 despite having three starters out of the lineup.
'This is always a great tournament,' said Indian coach Jim McMahon. '... The kids really performed well. It was also exam week for us so the kids are emotionally drained. They finish their exams, get to wrestle on a Friday night, have the rest of the weekend off and hopefully they come back refreshed Monday morning.'
Because this week, the Indians need no motivation as they head out to archirval Sussex Hamilton at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28, for their final Greater Metro Conference dual of the season. The Chargers have not been able to field a full lineup this season, McMahon said, but they have many strong wrestlers, and that should make for an intense meet just as it always is.
'It's going to be tough to win,' he said.
Then on Saturday, Jan. 30, they formally close out the regular season with the Sheboygan South Redwing Duals.
Falls will then prepare for runs at the GMC tournament (Feb. 5) and WIAA regional (Feb. 13) battles with hopefully that full lineup.
The Indians were without Cole Boram (152 pounds), Brandon Schafer (195) and Nate Fuiten (220) at the Homestead meet, but they still scored an impressive 398.5 points for their second-place slot as Oak Creek won for the third straight year with 461.5 and Port Washington was third (355.5).
Gill and Wunsch scored their first major invite titles of the year with their efforts, claiming the 106- and 126-pound weight classes, respectively. Gill (24-4 overall) pinned New Berlin, Kettle Moraine, Kimberly and Union Grove opponents before downing Port's Oliver Rosado, 12-6, in the final.
Wunsch scored pins over Grafton and Kettle Moraine opponents before beating Racine Horlick and Oak Creek foes on major decisions before downing 30-win Union Grove state qualifier Brett Kielich, 7-3, in the final.
'Both did really, really well,' said McMahon of the underclassmen.
Taking seconds was Austin Lasanske at 120 (4-1 on the day and 19-6 overall) and Matt Anderson at 113 (4-1, 21-5).
Lasanske scored pins over Port and Burlington foes before beating Whitefish Bay's dangerous Cooper Fergus, 4-0, in the semifinal. In the final, Lasanske fell to Matt Berlin of Oak Creek (31-2) by a 10-2 count.
Anderson, meanwhile, claimed wins over Homestead (pin), Union Grove (technical fall) and Menomonee Falls (forfeit) opponents before beating Grafton's state-ranked Arturo Duran, 6-5, in overtime in the semifinal. In the final, Anderson fell to old friend Mitch Landgraf of Oak Creek by a tense, 3-2 score.
'Those two (Anderson and Landgraf) have been going at it since the fourth grade,' McMahon said, laughing.
Taking thirds were Jerott Holz at 132 (4-1, 21-2) and Curtis Flannick at 170 (4-1, 12-6). Flannick had a 'sensational day,' McMahon said, coming from behind to pin a 27-win Oak Creek wrestler in his third-place bout.
Other good efforts included Nate Bonesho in fourth at 126 (2-3, 12-7), Jordan Boneberger in seventh at 132 (3-2), Noah Dakouras fourth at 138 (3-2), Jarod Gill sixth at 145 (2-3, 11-14) and Logan Fallon fifth at 285 (3-2, 20-10).
These kind of meets are good for developing depth,' McMahon said.
'For kids like Ben Knudsen and Jon Thomas, they're invaluable,' he added. 'I have a pretty good idea of what I'm going to get out of my good kids, but if we want to win these upcoming tournaments, it's going to come down to those other kids who can get the thirds and the fourths.
'That's why we want to see if these kids can elevate their level and improve their status.'