EDITOR'S NOTE: The Swnews4u.com Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.
Iowa–Grant/Highland wrestling team knocks off D2 #3 Prairie du Chien, D1 #6 Marshfield and D3 #8 Aquinas en route to Devils Duals title
by Jason Nihles, The Platteville Journal
WISCONSIN DELLS — The Iowa–Grant/Highland wrestling team made an impressive early-season statement Saturday.
The #5-ranked Panthers (6–0, 1–0 SWAL) went 5–0, defeating three top-10 ranked teams along the way, to win the title at the 28-team 2021 Devils Duals tournament in the Wisconsin Dells Dome at the Woodside Sports Complex.
IG/Highland defeated Division 2 #3-ranked Prairie du Chien 34–33 in the quarterfinals, then beat D1 #6-ranked Marshfield 41–40 on a tie-breaker in the semifinals before knocking off D3 #8 La Crosse Aquinas 42–39 in the championship dual.
“It was an awesome weekend for the team,” said IG/Highland head coach There were some real dogfights in the Dells this weekend for sure. I was very happy with the way our team fought for each other and battled through every second of every match. We knew we were going to have some very close duals and everyone on the team knew that they had a job to do and they went after it. The guys did an outstanding job scoring bonus points where we could and not giving up bonus points where we didn’t have to. We wrestled some very good teams and each round got tougher, but it seemed like we just stepped it up and got tougher as we went. I am proud of the guys for that.”
IG/Highland opened the day with a dominating 72–9 victory over Wisconsin Dells in a placement match, then won 10 of 14 matches — six via pin — to beat Slinger 48–24 in the opening round of the 16-team championship bracket.
The Panthers then rallied to reigning SWC champion and D2 state runner-up Prairie du Chien 34–33 in a quarterfinal dual.
Trailing 30–13 with five matches remaining, heavyweights Bode Brockhop (1:28), Cal Dorota (1:05) and Isaac (1:43) scored consecutive pins for the Panthers at 195, 220 and 285 pounds to make it 31–30.
Then, freshman Lucas Christianson scored a clutch 3–1 victory at 106 to give Iowa–Grant/Highland a four-point cushion with one match remaining.
Freshman Jackson McGuire suffered a 7–5 overtime loss to Drake Ingham at 113, but didn’t give up any bonus points, allowing the Panthers to advance with a one-point win.
IG/Highland’s semifinal victory over D1Marshfield was even more dramatic.
The Panthers trailed 40–6, but won the final six weight classes — three by pin, two via forfeit and one by major decision — to tie the match at 40–40 and ultimately win 41–40 by tie-breaker (most forfeits received).
Brockhop again began IG’s comeback with a forfeit win at 195. Dorota then scored a 15–6 major decision at 220, followed by a 20-second pin at 285 by Biba over Brok Carolfi.
Christianson scored a 1:40 pin at 106, and sophomore Elliot Biba’s 51-second pin over Jace Kelnhofer at 113 pounds essentially gave the Panthers the dramatic victory.
The victory was made official when McGuire collected a forfeit at 120 pounds.
Senior Mason Welsh, a two-time individual state qualifier, and junior Caden Lindner opened the championship dual with Aquinas with back-to-back pins at 132 and 138 to stake the Panthers to an early 12–0 lead.
After an 8–1 loss at 145, sophomore Emmerson Moen scored a 1:48 at 152 pounds to make it 18–3.
The Blugolds turned the tide by rattling off four straight lightning-quicks pins, all less than 57 seconds, to take a 27–18 lead.
Dorota and Isaac Biba notched back-to-back first-period pins at 220 and 285 to put the Panthers back in front at 30–27.
The back-and-forth affair continued as Aquinas’ Jake Fitzpatrick collected a pin at 106 to give the Blugolds their last lead at 33–30.
McGuire collected a forfeit at 113, then Elliot Biba’s 1:45 pin of Jackson Massa gave the Panthers an insurmountable 42–33 lead with one match left.
“Every single match in these duals was a key match,” said Allen “ When you know going into the dual that it is going to be a one- or two-point match, you have to always be thinking about bonus points. Even though several guys may have been disappointed with themselves in losing an individual match or two, most of them battled very hard. And like I said before, they didn’t give up bonus points when they didn’t have to. It was because of them that we were able to win this tournament.
Dorota and both Biba’s finished the day with perfect 5–0 records. Christianson, McGuire, Welsh and Lindner each went 4–1 for the champion Panthers.
“I was really impressed with Elliott Biba this weekend going 5–0,” said coach Allen. “ He beat some very good wrestlers and scored a lot of bonus points for us. He is just tougher than nails on the mat and although he weighed in at 113 he wrestled 120 most of the day.
“Cal also went 5–0 on the day and like Elliot, he wrestled up a weight class, most of the day. Cal has done a great job putting the team first and that is the kind of leadership I like to see in my seniors. Isaac Biba has had an awesome start to the year and after going 5–0 this weekend, he is now 9–0 on the year. He has been wrestling very smart and aggressive. He also had four pins this weekend which was huge for us in the team race.”
Iowa–Grant/Highland will travel to Muscoda Thursday night to face Riverdale in a SWAL dual before traveling to Madison Saturday for the Badger State Invitational.
“Moving forward, we need to keep working hard to get better everyday,” added Allen. “I know Aquinas will get better, as well as the other teams we will face down the road. We have a tough dual on Thursday against Riverdale, and then we go to another super tough tournament in the Badger State Classic at the Alliant Energy Center on Saturday. We will see some very tough teams there and we will have to be ready to go if we want to place high.”
2021 Adams–Friendship Devils Duals
(from Saturday, Dec. 11 @ Wisconsin Dells)
Championship dual: Iowa–Grant/Highland def. La Crosse Aquinas 42–39.
Semifinals: Iowa–Grant/Highland def. Marshfield 41–40; La Crosse Aquinas def. Mineral Point 45–22.
Quarterfinals: Iowa–Grant/Highland 34, Prairie du Crhien 33
Championship Round 1: Iowa–Grant/Highland def. Slinger 48–24.
Placement match: Iowa–Grant/Highland 72, Wisconsin Dells 9.
Iowa–Grant/Highland 42, La Crosse Aquinas 39
132: Mason Welsh (IG/H) over Jesse Penchi (A) Fall 2:57. 138: Caden Lindner (IG/H) over Trevor Paulson (A) Fall 2:54. 145: Robert `Tate` Flege (A) over Treyton Starkey (IG/H) Dec 8-1. 152: Emmerson Moen (IG/H) over Jack Christianson (A) Fall 1:48. 160: Joseph Penchi (A) over Darren Laufenberg (IG/H) Fall 0:34. 170: Calvin Hargrove (A) over Alex Sedbrook (IG/H) Fall 0:35. 182: David Malin (A) over Hudson Brown (IG/H) Fall 0:57. 195: Riley Klar (A) over Bode Brockhop (IG/H) Fall 0:24. 220: Cal Dorota (IG/H) over Will Hansen (A) Fall 0:40. 285: Isaac Biba (IG/H) over Preston Horihan (A) Fall 1:07. 106: Jake Fitzpatrick (A) over Lucas Christianson (IG/H) Fall 1:12. 113: Jackson McGuire (IG/H) won by forfeit. 120: Elliot Biba (IG/H) over Jackson Massa (A) Fall 1:45. 126: Zach Malin (A) over Dax Smelzer (IG/H) Fall 2:10.
Iowa–Grant/Highland individual results
106: Lucas Christianson went 4–1, 2 pins
113: Jackson McGuire went 4–1, 2 pins
120: Elliot Biba went 5–0, 3 pins
126: Dax Smelzer went 0–5
132: Mason Welsh went 4–1, 4 pins
138: Caden Lindner went 4–1, 2 pins
145: Treyton Starkey went 2–3, 2 pins
152: Emerson Moen went 2–3, 1 pin
160: Colton Cutts went 2–3, 1 pin
170: Darren Laufenberg went 2–3, 1 pin
182: Hudson Brown went 1–4
195: Bode Brockhop went 3–2, 2 pins
220: Cal Dorota went 5–0, 4 pins
285: Isaac Biba went 5–0, 4 pins