Hatchets advance three wrestlers to WIAA D2 State Championship starting Thursday: Kade Wenninger, Eric Decker and Tony Matti to compete for shot at state title

By Matt Turkiewicz

On Saturday, the Hatchets wrestling team traveled to Oconto Falls to compete in the WIAA Individual D2 Sectionals. Out of 14 weight brackets, the Hatchets sent 9 wrestlers, including three who advanced and will compete at the WIAA D2 Individual State Championship at the Kohl Center starting Thursday, Feb. 27.

Starting at 132 pounds, Mason Evans opened with a 5-1 decision over Blake Linsmeyer of Seymour. In his semi-finals match, Evans lost to eventual champion, Lucas Joniaux of Luxemberg-Casco. In his consolation semi-finals wrestle-back, Evans lost to state-qualifier, Noah Kilgas of Little Chute, bringing his impressive freshman season to an end.

Next up at 138 pounds, Alex Bishop lost to Freedom’s Ben Bredael. Bishop did not receive a wrestle- back. The next Hatchets wrestler at 152 pounds was Logan Bishop, who started his day with a fall in the second period; in his semi-finals match, Bishop lost to Reece Piontek of Denmark. In his first wrestle- back, Bishop pinned Justin Vosters of Freedom. In his third place match, Bishop lost to Isaac Blohowiak of Luxemberg-Casco in Sudden Victory.

Wrestling at 160, Tom Rigney lost to Little Chute’s Adam Kilgas. In his wrestle-back match, Rigney fell to Oconto Falls’ Aidan Stary. Mark Matti, at 170 pounds, started the tournament off with a 12-3 major decision over Eagan Bablash of Denmark. Matti fell to Freedom’s Troy Nabbefeld in semi-finals action; in his wrestle-back, Matti defeated Gideon Sass of Antigo 5-0. In his third place match, Matti fell to Oconto Falls’ Clayton Whiting, ending his day.

At 182 pounds, Kade Wenninger pinned Caleb Moore of Clintonville/Marion in seven seconds – setting a new school record for the fastest pin in school history as the old record was eight seconds set by Jacob Matti and Josh Chelf. In his semi-finals match, Wenninger lost to returning state champion, Reece Worachek of Luxemberg-Casco. In his first wrestle-back match, Wenninger defeated Matt Crowley of Winneconne in sudden victory. In the third place match, Wenninger defeated Wittenberg-Birnamwood’s David Gauderman 6-5 to qualify for state.

In his second place match, Wrightstown’s Logan Koel forfeited to Wenninger. Wenninger (36-9) will wrestle Carter Melton (34-9) of Spooner/Webster Thursday night at the Kohl Center.

“THE LEGEND” Tony Matti will make his second straight appearance at the WIAA D2 State Championship after finishing in 2nd place at the Oconto Falls Sectional over the weekend.

Erik Decker, wrestling at 195 pounds, defeated Mathew Janssen of Little Chute 7-4. In his semi-finals match, Decker scored a tech fall over Anderson Kopidlansky of Two Rivers with a score of 16-1. In his finals match, Decker fell to Quincy Klister of Wrightstown. Decker received second place by rule, and was the first Hatchets wrestler to qualify for state. Thursday night, Decker (35-9) will face Jacob Peacy (32-11) of Port Washington.

At 220 pounds, Austin Leinen fell to Luxemberg-Casco’s Travis LeGrave. Leinen did not receive a wrestle-back.

Heavyweight Tony Matti started the day with a first-period fall over Talik Bussey of Antigo. In his semi- finals match, Matti fell to Denmark’s Gabe Wertel. In his first wrestle-back match, Matti pinned Ethan

Welsh of Winneconne; in the third place match, Matti defeated James Schaefbauer of Nekoosa/Assumption/Port Edwards 4-0. In his second-place wrestle-back, Matti defeated Luxemberg- Casco’s Kyle Kroll 3-2. Matti (41-4) will face Tyler Krizan (32-12) of Stanley-Boyd/Own-Withee on Thursday.

This is the first time the Hatchets have sent at least three wrestlers to state since 2016. Wrestling is slated to begin at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday and continue through the weekend at the Kohl Center in Madison.

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