Junior’s 2nd-place finish leads feisty Ozaukee effort at state wrestling tournament
Entering last week’s WIAA Division 3 state individual tournament, Ozaukee junior Colton Kraus said that if he wrestled his best, he could do pretty well.
He just didn’t know he’d place second in the 113-pound weight class.
After a first-round bye, Kraus won twice to reach the title match Saturday at the Kohl Center, where he couldn’t quite overcome an undefeated foe.
For Ozaukee senior Ethan Brouillette, just wrestling at all after a shoulder injury sidelined him most of the season was an accomplishment. Throw in a fourth-place finish at 152 pounds — his best in four trips to state — and he’s an inspiration that left his coach in awe.
Also placing fourth for Ozaukee was junior Cole Large (120), who went toe to toe with the eventual state champion.
Ozaukee junior Kevin Beckmann (160) had never been to state before and said he didn’t know what he was doing, yet a fifth-place medal around his neck said otherwise.
Four of the Warriors’ five state qualifiers earned medals in what coach Luke Gundrum described as one of the top two or three state performances in his program’s history.
“I was hoping I was going to place down here,” Kraus said. “Coming out with second is pretty exciting.”
Kraus, who finished the season 39-8, scored a 10-8 decision over Clear Lake’s Cody Shafer (39-10) and a 10-1 major decision over Cadott’s Sean Sonnentag (40-8) to reach the title match. There, Cameron’s Kal Gerber (47-0) outlasted Kraus, 9-3.
Gundrum said Kraus is among the most talented wrestlers he’s coached.
“We have not seen his best yet,” Gundrum said. “He’ll be back.”
Brouillette saved his best for last, improbable as it was. He injured his shoulder Dec. 8 and was presumed out for most, if not all, of the season.
Doctors determined the shoulder wasn’t broken but that returning after eight weeks would be pushing it. Brouillette’s father, a chiropractor, said his son would be safe to go, and Brouillette worked after practice to get back into wrestling form.
Brouillette hadn’t lost a match in his return until he got to state. He went 2-2 in Madison on the way to his first state medal.
“It was a goal at the beginning of the season, but I didn’t think I’d be here right now,” Brouillette said. “It feels great.”
Brouillette (19-4) received a first-round bye before losing, 10-8, in a sudden-victory match against Weston/Ithaca’s Cody Willis (40-8). He rebounded with a 6-2 win over Arcadia’s Jerry Hotelling (36-14) and a 7-5 decision over Reedsville’s Grant Wedepohl (42-8) before losing, 4-0, to Edgar’s Anthony Lemanski (37-6) in the third-place final.
“It’s hard to put into words the journey here,” Gundrum said of Brouillette. “It’s as good as it gets.
“He’s an extremely hard-working kid. It’s great to see it finish like this.”
Large nearly took out the eventual state champion — the two were tied going into the third period — on his way to fourth place, one place higher than last season.
“Most of my matches, I gave it my best,” he said of his 3-2 state finish.
Large (39-11) opened with a 16-8 major decision over Cumberland’s Trey Lundequam (35-6) but lost, 9-4, to Lancaster’s Cole Martin (49-4), who went on to win the title.
In the consolation bracket, Large scored a 16-6 major decision over Clear Lake’s Tim Anderson (42-8) and had an 8-4 win over Random Lake’s Brandon Depies (41-13) before losing, 15-5, to Coleman’s Jensyn Schaal (40-5) in the third-place final.
“We were right there,” Gundrum said of the match against Martin. “It’s exciting to think about next year.”
Beckmann was excited about his effort, which included a win in his final match of the season. He made quick work of Laconia’s Mason Lind (35-17), pinning him in 31 seconds.
“I really didn’t know what I was doing at first,” he said. “It feels great. A lot of the hard work is finally starting to pay off.”
After a first-round bye, Beckmann (42-8) lost a 19-4 technical fall to Florence’s Cole Dollar (39-5), scored a 10-4 win over Hillsboro’s Spencer Treu (37-12) and lost a 13-2 major decision to Coleman’s Dexter Karban (32-10).
Beckmann led the Warriors in wins, pins and three-point near falls this season, and should be better as a senior, his coach said.
“I’d say we have not hit the top. I’m excited to see what he can do next year,” Gundrum said.
Ozaukee’s other state qualifier was 138-pound senior Logan Smith (38-8). He lost his only match, 4-2, to Arcadia’s Spencer Bisek.
Smith capped a career that puts him in the top 10 in wins in team history. He qualified for state three times and finished third last year.
“Great career, great season,” Gundrum said. “He’s an awesome kid, extremely intelligent and hard working.”
Rockets’ two fall in first round
Cedar Grove-Belgium’s two state qualifiers met the same fate in Division 3, bowing out in tough first-round matches — one in a heartbreaker.
At 285 pounds, the Rockets’ Alex May (35-9) lost a 4-2 decision in the final seconds to Spencer’s Kyle Andreae (45-4) of Spencer.
At 170, the Rockets’ Greg Wenzel (27-20) was pinned in 3:23 by Lancaster’s David Chadd (47-8).
Cedar Grove-Belgium coach Trevor Peterson said May, a senior, was the aggressor in his match and tried to do too much to win in regulation rather than settling for overtime.
May went for a takedown and ended up surrendering points.
“I think Alex knows he should have won,” Peterson said. “It hurts him that he got to sit and watch.”
Wenzel, a junior, lost to the third-place medalist.
“The kid Greg faced was pretty tough,” Peterson said. “He’s still got next year. He’s got a little taste of state.”
Image Information: A STATE TITLE narrowly eluded Ozaukee’s Colton Kraus (top), who gave Cameron’s Kal Gerber all he could handle before losing, 9-3, in the 113-pound championship match at the Division 3 state individual tournament Saturday. Photo by Mitch Maersch