MCDONALD'S SWNEWS4U.COM GAME OF THE WEEK (July 19–26)
US Marine Corps USA Wrestling National Championships: Fennimore wrestlers team Team Wisconsin
By Jason Nihles, The Platteville Journal, Fennimore Times, Boscobel Dial
FENNIMORE WRESTLERS EARN 5 ALL-AMERICAN HONORS, STELDT U16 GRECO-ROMAN NATIONAL CHAMP AT 160 POUNDS
FARGO, N.D. — Eleven Fennimore wrestlers participated in the U.S. Marines Corps USA Wrestling National Championships in Fargo July 15–22.
Wrestlers qualified to represent Team Wisconsin at the state championships and regional qualifiers earlier this year.
The US National Wrestling Championships feature the nation’s top-ranked wrestlers as they pursue a top-8 finish to earn an All-American status. The event also serves a recruiting expo, providing an opportunity for college coaches from across the nation to see how athletes compete against the best athletes in the country.
It is an honor for each a state to have multiple wrestlers earn All-American status.
Tiny little Fennimore, home to a population of just 2,495, earned five All-American honors alone for Team Wisconsin, with sophomore-to-be Tristan Steldt winning the 16U 160-pound Greco–Roman national championship thanks to his pin in the finals over Angelo Posada of California.
Steldt finished 6–0 in the Greco–Roman championships. He was able to execute a headlock to pin Posada in less than a minute in the championship.
He had several battles on his way to the finals, including a wild 16–13 victory with Cael Weldemoyer from Pennsylvania in the round of 16. Steldt was interviewed at a press conference following his National Championship.
“I was not as confident coming in as I should have been, but now I know I can compete with the top guys in the country,” said Steldt.
Team Wisconsin had five wrestlers make it to the finals.
Fennimore wrestling head coach Chad Steldt, who is also Tristan’s father, was obviously proud of Tristan’s performance both as a coach and dad.
“Last year he was recovering from knee surgery that took nine months to recover,” said coach Steldt. “Fargo 2022 was his motivation. Between freestyle and Greco–Roman, he finished 11–2 as a 15-year-old against the top guys in the country. I’m glad to see him competing at a high level.”
In addition to Steldt making the finals, fellow Fennimore sophomore Amryn Nutter got to experience running through the smoke to loud walk-out music with his name called in front of the crowd prior to the finals.
Nutter secured 16U All-American honors by winning six straight matches, while outscoring his opponents 57–3 to earn a spot in the Greco-Roman finals at 120 pounds, before losing to Kentucky’s Jordyn Raney, 6–3, in the 120-pound title bout to finish second.
Coach Steldt was selected by the Wisconsin Wrestling Federation to serve as one of Team Wisconsin’s coaches at nationals and was able to get a close-up view of Nutter’s performances.
“Amryn was winning the finals match 3–0 and the other wrestler’s points came as a result of Amryn trying to score more points,” said coach Steldt. “Amryn has been extremely dedicated and loves Greco–Roman. Other than the finals match, nobody in the country challenged him.”
Junior-to-be Evan Gratz earned 16U All-American honors in both the Grecco and freestyle championship tournaments. Gratz finished in third in Greco–Roman thanks to 5–1 finish. He pinned Lee Smith of Illinois in the third-place match after a razor-thin semifinal loss.
In the freestyle tournament, Gratz finished 6–3 to finish in fifth place. To finish as a double All-American at the Fargo nationals is a huge honor.
“There is no overtime in freestyle and Greco, the winner is based on criteria. Gratz lost in the semifinals after 1–1 tie in regulation because the other athlete scored last, which was the tie breaker,” said coach Steldt. “Evan was so close to also being in the finals in Greco. It is a really big deal to finish as a double Al- American”
Fennimore earned a fifth All-American finish thanks to Rachel Schauer’s 8th place finish in the 16U women’s freestyle at 164 pounds.
“Rachel is just a tough wrestler,” said coach Steldt. “Whenever anyone faces her, they know they are going to have a battle! Nobody was surprised to see her on the podium”
Just to put it into perspective how impressive it is to have this many athletes from one community earn All-American coach Steldt had this to say.
“If Fennimore was its own state, our wrestlers would have finished ahead of the point totals for 32 states in the team race,” he said. “Our kids’ performances helped team Wisconsin finish in second place as a team in Greco–Roman and fifth in freestyle. I don’t know if I’ve ever known one high school to produce five All-Americans in one year at Fargo. We were close to having three more with Tristan (in freestyle), Syler (Zdanczewicz) and Wyatt (Miles) falling just short.”
In freestyle competition, Fennimore wrestlers represented the community well. Tristan Steldt did not earn All-American status, but finished among the top 16 in the nation with a 5–2 record.
At 132 pounds, Ian Crapp finished 2–2 in freestyle, while Zdanczewicz finished 3–2 at 145. Nathan Blaschke finished 2-2 at 170 and Dalton Wolf finished 1-2 at 220 pounds in his first trip to Fargo. Miles finished 2–2, also at 220. Senior Brecken Muench was also a Junior Freestyle (U18) national qualifier at 132 pounds.
In the Greco–Roman tournament Brett Birchman had a strong start at 126 pounds with a victory, but was injured in the subsequent match and was not able to continue.
According to coach Steldt, Birchman sustained an injury that knocked him out of the tournament, but he should expect to recover with a few weeks of rest.
Also in Greco–Roman, Zdanczwicz and Miles finished in the top 16 in the nation.
“Now the guys have some time to get a mental break from wrestling,” added coach Steldt. “A few of the wrestlers will participate in fall sports and continue their off-season strength program, then they will get ready for the high school run. As a coach, you hope they can all reach the podium, but it is hard to put into words how well they all did last week against best wrestlers in the country. ”