CEDAR GROVE-BELGIUM’S Brandon Garcia (left) held the upper hand against Brayden Wienke of Clear Lake throughout the 152-pound championship match in the WIAA Division 3 state individual wrestling tournament Saturday only to lose on a disqualification with less than two minutes remaining. The decision, which resulted from an illegal body slam, left Garcia with runner-up honors at state for the third straight year.
Photo by vipis.com
Brandon Garcia’s high-school wrestling career wasn’t supposed to end this way.
After placing second at the WIAA state tournament each of the past two seasons, the Cedar Grove-Belgium senior appeared destined to win a Division 3 championship in his third and final trip to the Kohl Center in Madison last weekend.
It wasn’t meant to be.
With 1 minute, 40 seconds left in the 145-pound title match Saturday, Garcia held an 8-4 lead over Clear Lake’s Brayden Wienke. Trying to pad the lead, Garcia picked his opponent completely off the mat and slammed him down.
The referee stopped the match and awarded Wienke one point for the illegal move. When the junior, whose left side was injured, said he couldn’t continue wrestling, Garcia was disqualified.
Instead of realizing his dream of a state crown, Garcia was handed second-place honors for the third consecutive year. He exited the mat in tears, but not before hugging Wienke, apologizing to him and receiving cheers from many of the 12,000 spectators who disagreed with the call and acknowledged Garcia’s sportsmanship.
“It was really unfortunate, but sometimes things just happen,” Cedar Grove-Belgium coach Trevor Peterson said. “It was definitely a slam and was called a slam, but the question is whether the referee could have stopped it before it happened.
“He could have stepped in and blown his whistle when (Wienke) got completely off the mat, but it all took place pretty fast.”
After the match, a tearful Garcia told reporters he was sorry it happened and didn’t intend to do something illegal or hurt his opponent.
“I guess I went too fast,” he said. “I thought I was wrestling the best match of my life.”
“Brandon was just trying to finish the match strong,” Peterson said. “(Wienke’s) hips came down before Brandon did, which was why it was called.”
Wienke finished the season 44-0 and was awarded his first state title, but Peterson questioned if the match should have ended differently.
“As far as (Wienke) not being able to finish the match with 1:40 left, I don’t know,” Peterson said. “I don’t know if he was hurt that bad.
“I wouldn’t think he would want to win a state title that way.”
Garcia, who finished the season 46-2, scored a pair of hard-fought wins to reach the final. After opening with a 7-1 decision over Stratford’s Lance Carlson in the quarterfinals, he was pressed to overtime in the semifinals before defeating Chad Heise of Lena/St. Thomas Aquinas.
Heise built a 5-0 lead in the first period and held a four-point edge with less than two minutes left in regulation. But Garcia scored two takedowns in the final 1:14 to force overtime and had another takedown to win it.
In addition to finishing his career as the top wrestler in his team’s history, Garcia tops the win list among all area high-school wrestlers. His career mark was 179-19.
Four other local wrestlers took their shots at Division 3 state honors, and two emerged with top-six finishes.
For Cedar Grove-Belgium, sophomore Tyler Garcia placed third in the 152-pound weight class, and junior Wayne Paulus lost his lone match at 215.
Ozaukee was represented by senior Marcus Lubner, who placed sixth at 112, and junior Pat Leonard, who lost his only match at 140.
Tyler Garcia, Brandon’s brother, won three of his four matches, including a 12-7 victory over Dakota Hladilek of Cadott in the third-place final.
“Tyler had a great week,” Peterson said. “He got the nerves out by getting a pin in his first match and was in his quarterfinal match all the way before losing.”
In the quarterfinal, Garcia lost, 4-0, to Mineral Point’s Cord Yager, the eventual champion. Yager owned a 2-0 lead in the third period, when Garcia almost scored a near-fall but couldn’t complete the move.
In the consolation rounds, Garcia pinned Coleman’s Todd Nowak in 2:28 and then edged Riverdale’s Andy Chitwood, 8-7, in the semifinals.
Garcia finished the season 33-6.
After receiving a first-round bye, Lubner lost to Corey Hodowanic of Cornell/Gillman, 3-0, in the quarterfinals.
Lubner bounced back to defeat Coleman’s Mitch Champagne, 6-0, in the consolation round before losing to Pacelli’s Dylan Suchocki, 4-0, in the semifinals.
Lubner then lost to Weston’s Nate Duren, 4-0, in the fifth-place final and finished the season 39-12.
Paulus and Leonard both faced tough opponents in the opening round.
Paulus lost to Necedah’s Mike Weber, 11-5, and finished the season 41-8.
Leonard fell to Mineral Point’s Bo Doney, 4-1, and ended the year 32-13.
Repeat state title
eludes Pirates’ Dieringer
Sophomore falls one point shy in
125-pound finalbut leads strong
showing by Port contingent at Madison
By STEVE OSTERMANN
Ozaukee Press staff
With five of his wrestlers taking the mats, Port Washington coach Angelo LaRosa had plenty of reasons to feel good entering last week’s WIAA Division 2 state individual tournament in Madison.
When the final match ended, he hadn’t changed his mind much.
Although the Pirates’ top wrestler came up short in the quest for his second state title, he and three of his teammates all left the Kohl Center with top-six finishes.
“Overall, we were happy with how the tournament went,” LaRosa said after seeing Alex Dieringer finish second at 125 pounds, Eric Croatt (135) and Andy Dieringer (145) both place fourth and Tony Werner (130) take sixth.
“We lost some close matches that could have gone either way, but anything can happen in a state tournament. They all wrestled pretty well.”
As expected, Alex Dieringer carried the Pirates’ hopes for a state champion all the way to a final. The sophomore went into the meet as one of the favorites in his weight class and responded by winning twice to reach a first-place showdown against Tomahawk’s Zach Zehner.
After winning the 103-pound title in Division 1 last year with a 41-0 record, Dieringer entered Saturday’s 125 finale with a 38-2 mark and a strong shot at defeating Zehner, a junior who was 48-1.
Dieringer took a lead into the third period, but Zehner rallied with a takedown to tie the score at 5-5. After Dieringer scored on an escape, he tried for a headlock. However, Zehner shook off the move and scored another takedown that gave him a 7-6 win and his first state title.
“Alex let that guy hang around too long,” LaRosa said. “He had him on the ropes in the middle of the match but didn’t put him away.
“We had a chance to win it, but it slipped away.”
Dieringer appeared to be in good shape heading into the title match. After scoring a 21-6 technical fall over Freedom’s Kory Kleuskens in the quarterfinals, he pulled out an 8-7 win over River Valley’s Dylan Shaffer in the semifinals.
“Alex took not winning it real hard, but he’ll learn from it,” LaRosa said. “He had an outstanding season, and he’ll come back even stronger next year.”
Croatt, a senior, went 2-2 in four matches, including a 4-2 loss to Mosinee’s Andy Mullins in the third-place final.
After opening with a 5-3 win over Oconto Falls’ Aaron Heidersheid, Croatt lost to West DePere’s Mark Puckhaber, 7-4, in the semifinals. Croatt then bounced back to defeat Valders’ Damian Brandes, 10-5, in the consolation round before facing Mullins.
“Eric had a good tournament,” LaRosa said. “He lost some close matches that could have gone either way.”
Andy Dieringer, Alex’s brother, capped his senior season with a 2-2 tournament record that included a pair of impressive wins in the consolation round.
After losing, 8-2, to Justin Washburn of Iowa-Grant/Highland in the quarterfinals, he defeated Tim Emerson of River Valley, 4-1, and edged highly regarded Kalvin York of Belleville/Monticello/New Glarus, 4-3.
In the third-place final, Dieringer lost to Ben Samsa of Oconto Falls, 8-6.
“Andy wrestled really well,” LaRosa said. “One of the highlights of the tournament for us was his win over York, who is a tough kid.”
Croatt and Andy Dieringer each finished the season 36-6.
Werner, a senior, split his first four matches before losing the fifth-place final to Clinton’s Brad Hesebeck, 3-0.
In the first round, Werner (31-14) scored his third win of the season over Luxemburg-Casco’s Jordan Giachino, 5-3. He lost to Unity’s Dustin McKinney, 12-5, but received a win in the first consolation round when West De Pere’s Alex Puckhaber couldn’t wrestle due to an injury.
Werner then lost to Kewaskum’s Brad Bentz, 7-1, before facing Hesebeck.
Port’s other state qualifier was sophomore Trevor Schumacher, who was eliminated by a first-round loss in the 145-pound class. He built a 6-1 lead against Wisconsin Dells’ T.J. Williams and was still ahead, 6-3, when Williams rallied to score a pin in 5:43.
Schumacher ended the season 25-16.