Smithâ€™s 2nd-place effort leads record-setting group of Port wrestlers in Division 2 state individual tournament
Heading into last weekâ€™s WIAA state individual tournament in Madison, there was little doubt that Zach Smith was having an impressive rookie year for the Port Washington wrestling team.
But for good measure, the freshman capped the season by placing second in the 113-pound weight class in the Division 2 competition â€” giving him the highest finish among seven Port wrestlers who qualified for the meet.
After receiving a first-round bye Thursday, Smith won two matches before losing to Ellsworthâ€™s Jens Lantz, 10-0, in Saturdayâ€™s championship match at the Kohl Center. Lantz, a sophomore, won his second straight state title and finished the season 37-0.
Smith ended with a 29-7 mark that included a variety of honors, including North Shore Conference, regional and sectional titles.
â€śZach had a great run, no doubt about that,â€ť Port coach Angelo LaRosa said.
â€śThings didnâ€™t go his way in the final, but heâ€™ll have a chance to face that kid again in the future.â€ť
Smith continued his late-season surge by defeating Medfordâ€™s Gunner Peterson, 9-6, in the state quarterfinals. He then scored one of his most impressive wins of the year in the semifinals, pinning Neillsvilleâ€™s Phillip Opelt (48-7) in just 56 seconds.
â€śZach is a very dangerous wrestler. He got that kid in a cradle, and the match was over fast. It was a great win for him.â€ť
With Port having a team-record number of state qualifiers, LaRosa had high hopes for several medal-winning performances. In addition to Smith, the Pirates got place-finishing efforts from freshman Jordan Dieringer (third at 152) and sophomore Noah Rosado (sixth at 106).
Also representing Port were seniors Adam Dreikosen (160) and Tyler Griswold (220), junior Josh Meins (170) and sophomore Andy Fidler (285).
Each of the Pirates made their first state appearance
â€śWe had a great season. We could have done better at state, but we had a lot of success, so itâ€™s hard to complain about that,â€ť LaRosa said.
Dieringer finished the season 23-5, including a 4-1 state record. After a first-round pin of Lakeside Lutheranâ€™s Conor Fussner in 3:27, he lost to Mike Uliana of Luxemburg-Casco, 9-0, in the quarterfinals.
However, Dieringer rebounded with three more wins in the consolation round. He defeated Delavan-Darienâ€™s Kyndle Bennett, 10-5, and Spartaâ€™s Toby Mosley, 10-2, and pinned Neillsvilleâ€™s Damien Luchterhand in 1:30 of the third-place match. It was only the second loss of the season for Luchterhand, who finished 39-2.
â€śThe guy Jordan lost to was a really physical senior wrestler,â€ť LaRosa said. â€śBut he beat some tough kids and had a really good tournament.â€ť
After a first-round bye, Rosado (38-7) outlasted Two Riversâ€™ Ty Pelot, 5-3, in overtime. However, he ran into tough foes in his next three matches â€” losing to Osceolaâ€™s John Olson, 11-3; Drew Wheeler of St. Croix Falls, 18-3; and Spartaâ€™s Dylan Winchel on a 30-second pin in the fifth-place match.
â€śNoah had a great win in his first match against a dangerous kid,â€ť LaRosa said. â€śBut after that he had to go up against some top-ranked opponents and lost some really tough matches.â€ť
Meins (36-15) was the only other Pirate to win a state match. He opened with a 11-8 victory over Ellsworthâ€™s Gable Frandsen before losing on first-period pins to Brodhead/Judaâ€™s Hunter Colden and Bloomer/Colfaxâ€™s Levi Nayes.
â€śJosh won a wild match to start out. After that, he got outmuscled a little bit,â€ť LaRosa said.
Dreikosen (38-10) saw his season end with a 3-1 loss to Wrightstownâ€™s Jackson Fox (47-4), who went on to win the weight class.
In the first round, Griswold (33-14) was pinned by Ashlandâ€™s Anthony Mrdjenovich in 4:30, and Fidler (31-18) was pinned by Alex Arentz of West Salem/Bangor in 1:32.
â€śThey all had solid seasons, and most of them will be back,â€ť LaRosa said of his wrestlers. â€śThey have a lot of look forward to and so does the team.â€ť
Image Information: PORT WASHINGTONâ€™S Zach Smith (top) held the upper hand briefly against Ellsworthâ€™s Jens Lantz in the 113-pound championship match at the WIAA Division 2 state individual tournament last Saturday. Lantz emerged with a 10-0 win, leaving Smith with second-place honors in his first state meet. Photo by Mitch Maersch