The Ripon High School Tiger wrestling team had its chances to defeat Plymouth last week Thursday.
While it fell just short, losing to the Panthers 39-30 at home, it learned a little bit in the process.
“Even though we’re giving up forfeits, we can still be in contention,” Ripon head coach T.J. Mlodzik said. “... I think last night was really a proving point for these guys to see how close we can be.”
The Tigers out-scored Plymouth 30-15 in contested matches, but gave up 24 points on forfeits.
All of Ripon’s points in the duals came on pins. Recording them were Tyler Bradley (160-pound weight class), Jordan Perkins (182), Jack Schoelzel (195), Caden Kraege (285) and Riley Nickel (145).
Mlodzik noted that every one of the Tigers’ pins were either in a half nelson or a version of a half nelson, which is referred to by most coaches as being the easiest, but most effective move in folkstyle wrestling. The commonly used move, and one Mlodzik preaches in practice, is done using only one hand, by passing it under the arm of the opponent and locking the hand on the opponent’s neck.
“Coming from my coaching style of the simple moves works, that was a good showing of it last night,” he said.
One of the wrestlers using the move to pick up a win was Schoelzel. The Ripon head coach noted that it was the sophomore’s first varsity win and that the team celebrated that accomplishment in the locker room afterwards.
“That was a big turning point and I really smiled on that one because it was with my favorite move that I’ve been teaching them from day one and that’s the half nelson,” Mlodzik said. “So to see that actually happen and be on his first career varsity win, that was kind of a shining moment not only for him, but as a team.”
Schoelzel picked up the pin in the second period, as did Bradley, Perkins and Nickels for Ripon.
Kraege nearly had to go to the second period himself, but picked up a pin in the final second of the first period. This comes after he secured a pin with 5 seconds left in his first conference match against Winneconne.
“We tell our wrestlers at practice that you don’t stop until the ref either blows the whistle and if you don’t hear the whistle, you wait for the ref to stop you,” Mlodzik said. “That’s how we approach every day is we go until someone has to tell us to stop. It showed with Caden. He kept driving, kept readjusting and got that pin at the buzzer and that that was a nice moment to see that; just the determination that he had.”
Ripon had opportunities to be ahead and not as close as the end, but fell a little short in those matches. Brendan Shurpit controlled the first period in his 126-pound weight class match before getting pinned in the second; Corbin Hein was pinned in the second period at 138 pounds; and Brandyn Beahm dropped a 6-0 decision at 152 pounds.
Entering Beahm’s match, Ripon trailed just 36-30 and could have won the dual on a tiebreaker had he been able to pick up a pin as it would have had more pins in the competition than the Panthers did.
While the Tigers fell short, Mlodzik who his guys, even the ones that lost, never gave up and continued to fight.
“They were fighting off their backs and continued to try and that says a lot about our guys,” the Ripon coach said. “They’re driven and never-give-up attitude is really starting to show and I’m proud of the guys for that.”
He added it would have been nice to pull out the dual win, but he thinks sometimes a team can get more out of losing a tough competition like this than it would had it won every match and pointed to forfeits being the difference.
Ripon will return to the mats Monday, Dec. 27, when it hosts a holiday scramble.
This will be the second year of the scramble after COVID canceled tournaments last year.
“We’re excited to host the holiday scramble again,” Mlodzik said. “They weren’t able to do it last year because of COVID and not being able to do tournament-settings. So getting back at it this year is going to be a good opportunity for the kids to be not in a team situation, but more of an individual-scramble style.”
The Ripon coach added there are 16 or so teams set to participate and that there’s going to be a lot of competition. He’s looking forward to getting more opportunities for his wrestlers because that’s how they get experience.
“That’s going to be another fun day for the kids and kind of break up the holiday break a little bit with some competitive wrestling,” Mlodzik said. “And then we’ll get back after Christmas to our dual schedule. And soon enough it’s going to be conference and then regionals, and then sectionals and state … This next half of the season is going to go by quick and we’ll just keep pushing forward in practice and then when we get out on the mat.”
The scramble begins at 8 a.m.