Coming into the Mukwonago Duals on Dec. 29, the Hamilton wrestling team had done a good job of overcoming the holes in its lineup. But facing Beloit Memorial in the fifth-place match at the tournament, the forfeits caught up to the Chargers.

Hamilton hung with Beloit with a 21-21 tie after the 113-pound match, but forfeits at 120 and 126 pounds put HHS in a deep hole.

'The forfeits killed us,' Hamilton coach Doug Pulvermacher said. 'We won two, lost three (dual meets at the tournament), but the forfeits just killed us.'

Beloit Memorial edged HHS in the fifth place match, 37-32.

'When you're giving up 24 points per dual meet, it's tough to come back from,' Pulvermacher said.

It's been a tough go for the Chargers in dual meets at times, but they have held their own. Victories over Badger and Racine Horlick at the Mukwonago Duals proved that point.

'We have a tough schedule, so we're ready for February when it counts the most,' Pulvermacher said. 'We make the mistakes at practice and we make the mistakes here, where it's not as big of a deal. We get through it so we don't make those mistakes at conference, regionals, sectionals and state.'

Ryan Merkel (138 pounds) was Hamilton's lone wrestler to win all five matches on the day.

'I thought we came out a little slow in the first meet (a 46-28 loss to Kimberly),' Merkel said. 'We hadn't wrestled in a couple weeks. After that, we picked it up and we handled business.'

Merkel, who is 16-0 this season, earned three technical fall victories, a pin and a major decision.

'I've been doing a lot of offseason wrestling and lifting on my own,' Merkel said. 'I didn't go out for football this year, so I dropped some weight earlier. I'm a lot more comfortable at 138. Last year, I wrestled at 145 and I took third at sectionals. I'm getting used to this weight, and I feel a little quicker and I can move guys around a little more with my strength. So that's nice.'

In Merkel's sophomore season, he wrestled at 160 and has dropped weight ever since.

Ben Sciortino (182), Jake Macaluso (220) and Christian Farmer (113) were all 4-1 at the dual meet tournament.