Port wrestler exacts revenge; Grafton continues to grow

Kawczynski goes 4-0 to win the 220-pound weight class at the Highlander Invite for the Pirates

AFTER LOSING AT the Duffy tournament in Port Washington this month, Port’s Garett Kawczynski got revenge on Kimberly’s Blake Barry at the Highlander Invite last Friday. Photo by Mitch Maersch
By 
MITCH MAERSCH

Ozaukee Press staff

Injuries continue to dog the Port Washington High School wrestling team, but a freshman who stayed healthy went undefeated in winning a Highlander Invite title at 220 pounds last Friday in Mequon.

Garett Kawczynski (27-2) beat Kimberly senior Blake Barry (21-3) in a 6-5 decision in the semifinal, his biggest challenge on the night.

“The score was closer than the match. He controlled the entire match,” coach Angelo LaRosa said. “He scored two takedowns in the first period.”

Barry beat Kawzynski due to injury in a bizarre match in the finals of the Duffy in Port on Jan. 6, but this time was different.

“He wrestled his best match of the year by far,” LaRosa said.

In the finals, Kawczynski won an 18-5 major decision over Eric Schaufelberger (30-6) of Neenah.

“He crushed a good Neenah kid in the finals,” LaRosa said.

In earlier matches, Kawczynski pinned Holden Brigman of Racine Case in 48 seconds and Craig Creed of Hartford in 51 seconds.

Port scored 195 points and finished 11th of 30 teams. Germantown won with 356, and Kewaskum had 314.

Port’s Kaiden Schumacher (19-8) was fourth at 132 pounds.

He won a 7-0 decision over Logan Tessier of Neenah, pinned Aiden Elmore of South Milwaukee in 3:41 and Trent Young (19-7) of Oak Creek in 2:36 before being pinned by Aiden Crawley (30-0) of Brookfield East in 5:14 and losing a 12-0 major decision to Cole Dummer (32-4) of Union Grove.

“He’s wrestling well. He’s just got to make some adjustments in certain positions,” LaRosa said.

Diego Armendariz (21-8) was sixth at 182 pounds.

He won a 9-4 decision over Zander Big Mountain of Oconomowoc, was pinned by Johnny Botsch (25-5) of Brookfield East in 1:02, won a 5-1 decision over Jacob Van Duser (21-9) of New Berlin and lost a 7-4 decision to Adler Strenn (15-5) of Reedsville.

“He’s having a really nice season. I expect him to be right in the mix to qualify for the state tournament this year,” LaRosa said of Armendariz.

Nick Gonzalez (13-11) was ninth at 138 pounds, and Nick Bensen (17-9) was ninth at 195 pounds. Ten Pirates scored points.

“Guys who wrestled did a nice job,” LaRosa said.

He hopes to get Brandon Grabowski back from injury this week. Brady Krueger’s return remains in question. Both are North Shore Conference champs who finished third in sectionals last season, one place from qualifying for state.

Port was to wrestle Wednesday, Jan. 25, at Whitefish Bay, Thursday, Jan. 26, at Plymouth and Saturday,  Jan. 28, at Pulaski.

Grafton’s young team is learning

Grafton scored 136.5 points and was 22nd of 30 teams at the Highlander Invite.

Senior Nathan Krause (23-3) at 220 pounds was the Black Hawks’ highest finisher at fifth.

Krause pinned Collin Harvey of Plymouth in 51 seconds, was pinned by Thomas Perra (26-6) of New Berlin in 3:30, pinned Aeden Chojnacki of Kewaskum in 1:35 and pinned Jay Krueger (15-8) of West Allis Hale in 1:41.

Krause was controlling the match before he tweaked his shoulder against Perra, but he bounced back.

“He dominated his competition pretty easily,” coach Brant Murray-McKelvey said.

Senior Ben Birch (11-9) was the next-highest finisher at 11th. He went 3-2 in the tourney, pinning Kaiden Lueloff (19-16) of Nicolet in 3:31 for 11th.

“Ben’s really coming along. He’s hitting his stride at the end of the year at the perfect time. He’s trying new moves and working hard in practice and building a good tool box,” Murray-McKelvey said.

He also praised Louis Berns, who was 15th at 170 pounds.

“He’s starting to come into his own. He’s figuring out his style really, really well. He’s figuring out what his bread and butter moves are,” Murray-McKelvey said.

“Anytime he’s on the mat he wrestles hard for us — he’s one of the few who never gives up. He could be down 10 points and he’s wrestling just as hard as he does in the beginning of the match.”

The Highlander Invite is a challenge, and Murray-McKelvey said he didn’t hide that from his young and rebuilding team.

“I’m very transparent with them. I told them to go out and have some fun, try some new things, don’t be afraid to try what we’ve been working on,” he said.

“A lot of them did that. You could really see the growth, a lot less pins and more wrestling through the end of periods. Earlier in the year we would have been pinned or would have lost bigger. Both the guys and girls were doing much better than they were a month and a half ago.”

Murray-McKelvey’s plan is for his wrestlers to focus on two positives the day after the tournament, then start working on what to improve.

“You can always find two positives in what you did,” he said.

Grafton was to wrestle Wednesday, Jan. 25, at Cedarburg, and host a duals meet on Saturday, Jan. 28.

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