Carlin's runner-up finish highlights efforts of Bay grapplers in 60-team Oshkosh event
Davey and Gray also medal
Whitefish Bay - In the end, Whitefish Bay 113-pound wrestler Max Carlin lost to his training partner Billy Prochniewski of Waukesha South, 6-0, in the finals of the 60-team Oshkosh on the Water Invitational at UW-Oshkosh last weekend.
But by then he and the Blue Dukes had already proven their point. They were short-handed, and they didn't win as many matches as they would have liked, but they still got three place-winners and finished a respectable 20th in the stellar field.
"It was just a great tournament for Max," Blue Dukes coach Dale Loebel said. "He finally put everything together. He was amazing. He beat the number one ranked kid from Wilmot and beat another ranked kid from Wittenberg-Birnamwood. Those are big wins.
"It's always been something about Max. It's not that he lacks confidence, or that he doesn't believe in himself, he does. He just needed to prove that he could win a big match, prove to himself that what he's doing is right. … And he did it."
Carlin's efforts helped the Blue Dukes, who will be at the West Allis Hale Bauer Brawl on Saturday, score 137.5 points in the Oshkosh event as Coleman won with 278.5 and Wittenberg-Birnamwood was second with 245.5.
Carlin (14-5) got a first-round bye and then he beat a Plymouth opponent by a major decision (13-2), before pinning a Random Lake opponent (5:57). His first pivotal moment was when he beat Wilmot's Matthew Wagemann, the previously top-ranked wrestler at 113, by a 7-6 count.
He then came back to beat Wittenberg-Birnamwood's Ben Vosters by an impressive 9-2 count.
Against Prochniewski, whom he trains with in club wrestling in the off-season, he just couldn't get anything going in a 6-0 loss. Prochniewski is currently 21-1 on the season.
"It was all right," Loebel said. "He'll learn from this and this was cool. We've been coming here for about five years now and this is the first time we've had someone in the walk of champions (the event that precedes the finals)."
Davey bounces back
Joey Davey at 132 pounds and Rashadeem Gray at 160, also earned medals.
Loebel was rather gratified with Davey's effort as Davey has had an up and down season so far.
He had a bye and a technical fall over a Cottage Grove Park (Ill.) wrestler before getting pinned by a Winneconne foe in the third round.
But Davey (18-7) bounced back, winning four successive consolation bracket matches in the Byzantine bracket that the OTW Invite runs. He earned pins over foes from Stevens Point (pin) and Perry (Ill.) and then claimed decisions over Peshtigo and Oshkosh West opponents before he lost a tough 1-0 decision to a Coleman foe.
But, in a fine turn of events, he defeated the same Winneconne opponent who had pinned him a day earlier by a 5-3 count, to earn the fifth-place medal.
"He had to come from a long ways back," Loebel said. "He's been down awhile, so it was good to have him wrestle the way he's capable of. He now knows he can't get away with stuff at 132 that he could when he was at a lighter weight."
Gray wrestling better
Gray (16-3) wound up seventh in his bracket. He had a bye and then beat Markesan (pin) and Illiana Christian (decision) grapplers before losing to a Wittenberg-Birnamwood foe. He then split a series of tight matches including a controversial 7-6 loss to a Bradley Tech opponent, before he beat a Coleman opponent, 14-5, for the seventh place medal.
"He could have been higher on the podium," Loebel said, "but he's starting to wrestle better and he's making strides and that will get him wins down the road." The Wittenberg Birnamwood opponent eventually made the finals.
"I was happy with the fact that guys like Joey and Rashadeem did not shut down after they lost," Loebel said.
Also winning two matches on the mat were Kelly Jackson at 195 (3-2 for the tournament, 5-4 overall) and Will Shanley at 220 (2-2, 6-12).
Bay was down three wrestlers for the tournament for a variety of reasons and filled only 10 of the 14 brackets. Loebel said that with a little better luck and a few more bodies, his team may have challenged for a spot in the top 10.
"I thought we'd do better, but we still did OK. We still did all right," he said.
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