Menomonee Falls senior wrestler Josh McMahon has put up with a lot in his career: shoulder and hip injuries in past years and now stitches to his face and a busted nose that forces him to wear a bulky and uncomfortable mask.
To add even more pressure, he's the son of Falls coach Jim McMahon, and his older brother, Jake, was a two-time WIAA state tournament qualifier.
But on Dec. 27, on the first day of the Indians' participation in the 18-team Northern Exposure Invite in Merrill, Josh McMahon had himself a day, winning five straight close decisions to help Falls post a 5-0 dual-meet record and a berth in the Dec. 28 championship round.
Falls eventually lost to Sauk Prairie and Mineral Point to finish third, but Josh McMahon's effort epitomized the short-handed and game effort the Indians put forth during the event.
"The kid has wrestled a long time, and I'm really happy for him," said coach Jim McMahon. "Everyone of his (first-day) matches could have gone either way, but they didn't. He's figuring it out day by day, and the more matches he gets, the better he'll be."
That's what the Indians focused on with this event, as despite having to forfeit three classes in each dual the first day, they came out with victories in all of them, defeating Rosholt (54-12), Edgar (45-33), Kewaskum (33-12), North Shore Conference favorite Port Washington (32-28) and Eden Prairie, Minnesota (54-16).
The win over Port came to symbolize both the Indians' and Josh McMahon's day. Josh McMahon pulled out an 11-10 decision at 152 pounds in the fourth match of the dual in the final 10 seconds. The win gave Falls a 12-0 lead at that point, and the Indians needed all those points, as with three bouts to go, they found themselves down, 28-16.
But Alec Lind earned a technical fall at 113, and Tyler Gill did the same at 120, and then senior Matt Anderson, who would go 7-0 over the two-day event, pinned his man in 1:38 at 126 to clinch the victory.
"It was a great team effort," said Jim McMahon. "We always talk about team in wrestling, which is occasionally a hard sell because it's such an individual sport, but the kids won a lot of close matches in that one. They won for themselves and also for the team.
"You just never know which match will count the most."
The dual was fun on another note as Falls assistant Nick Patenaude and Port head coach Angelo LaRosa were former college teammates, so they spent the match giving each other a good-natured hard time.
Sophomore Noah Dakouras was also a big part of that first-day success, as he too went 5-0 at 145 and 138.
"He's a little light (for 145, his primary weight), but he's doing a great job for a sophomore," said coach McMahon.
Falls ran out of gas on that second day, falling to eventual champ Sauk Prairie (48-18) and to runner-up Mineral Point (51-22), as McMahon rested a few people when it became apparent Falls was not going to win.
"We're still trying to put it all together with not a lot of kids," said coach McMahon, noting injuries and extenuating circumstances left the Indians short in the upper weights for this meet.
Anderson, who had three major decisions and two pins, improved to a team-best 19-2 overall with his effort. State runner-up Eric Wunsch, coming back from a concussion, went 6-0 with two pins (15-4 overall). Austin Lasanske was 6-1 at 132 with three pins and a technical fall (18-3 overall), while freshman Ethan Pogorzelski at 106 also went 6-1 with two pins (18-3).
Josh McMahon lost his only match on the second day, while Dakouras went 5-2 overall (15-6). Logan Fallon at 285 was also 5-2 while improving to 17-4 overall, and in limited action, Gill was 4-0 with three pins.
It was a good tournament, Jim McMahon said.
"We didn't know if we could overcome three forfeits on that first day," he said. "It's a real credit to the kids. We like the dual meet format because we're able to get a lot of our JV kids involved and get them experience."