Homestead wrestlers battle illness as it runs two tourneys, provides opportunity
Bay takes two titles at Highlander varsity meet
Mequon - It was an odd mix of news for Homestead wrestling coach Ernie Millard last weekend.
On the plus side, he and his staff ran both a varsity invitational last Friday and a large-scale junior varsity meet last Saturday without a hitch.
"The key was volunteers," he said. 'Without them, I wouldn't know what we would have done. Dave Keel, Fritz (Rauch) and Steve Manor (all from the state championship football staff) did a fantastic job on Friday night. A lot of credit goes to them and without TrackWrestling (the national clearinghouse for meet organization and results), it wouldn't have happened either."
"But it was funny," he continued. "We went from running an 18-team varsity invitational off of Track one night to me putting up 20 JV teams on a white board and trying to fill in the gaps that way the next. Somehow it all worked."
Struck by illness, injury
On the down side, it was almost all negative as far as the actual wrestling for the Highlanders, as they had every sort of illness and injury known to man hit them last week. So much so Millard was only able to field three healthy varsity wrestlers for his own event last Friday.
"On Wednesday night (two nights before the event), I was so frustrated with all the illnesses and injuries," Millard said. "It didn't help that I was sick too. We were able to run a fair amount of younger guys out there on Saturday (for the junior varsity meet) and that turned out to be a positive experience. I would have liked to have put out more numbers (for the varsity meet) but it wouldn't have been the best for the kids."
Nick Pierret was fourth at 182 pounds (3-2 on the day, 19-9 overall) while Jake Mueller was sixth at 138 (3-2, 11-9) and Zach Lennon was 11th at 152 (2-3, 18-8).
Millard will look to have a nearly full line-up back in place when he and the team take a road-trip this weekend to the Wisconsin Dells Invitational on Saturday.
Bay finishes fourth
Meanwhile, for one of Millard's guests at the varsity invite, area wrestling pal Whitefish Bay, it was a sound evening at the varsity event, as the Blue Dukes took a strong fourth with Joey Davey at 132 pounds and Rashadeem Gray claiming another title at 160.
"It was a good, good day," Blue Duke coach Dale Loebel said. "Back in December at the Stech (Invitational at West Allis) I think we lost every last match that we had. This time, we won almost every one of our last matches."
The Blue Dukes scored 290 points for their spot in the 18-team field as Burlington won with 414.
The champions led the way. Davey (25-9 on the year), who in an odd twist of irony was pinned by Homestead's Mueller in a dual last Thursday, was unstoppable here, going 5-0 with two pins. He defeated Pius XI's Quinn Burzynski (23-2 overall), on a 5-1 decision in the finals.
"He was in control all day," Loebel said. "He looked great."
As did Gray (24-4), who a few weeks ago, was working his way back from a hip injury. He too was dominant this day, recording technical falls in each of his first three matches and decisions in the last two, including a 7-2 win over Port Washington's Quentin Lueck in the final.
"He really proved he was all the way back," Loebel said. "He was so ready today and was absolutely ridiculous on his feet. In one of his tech falls, he had 12 takedowns. He was defending well and really looked like himself."
Other good efforts for the Blue Dukes included a third from Cooper Fergus at 106 (4-1, 22-7); a fifth from Ben Lehrmann at 152 (4-1, 23-8); sixths from Miguel Gomez at 126 (3-2, 18-14) and Kelly Jackson at 195 (3-2, 11-7) and sevenths from Justin Weil at 113 (3-2, 15-17) and Steve Meyer at 195 (4-1, 11-10).
Loebel also praised the effort of 220-pounder Will Shanley, who shook off some early losses to go 2-2 on the day and improve to 12-16 overall.
Loebel also has hopes that his returning 120-pound state qualifier Max Carlin will make it back soon from a shoulder injury he suffered in a recent tourney.
"Maybe by conference (in early February)," Loebel said. "He's a kid who deserves to go back to state."
Bay will be at area rival Nicolet on Monday for a 7:30 p.m. dual.
"Overall, this was a great tourney (run by Homestead)," Loebel said. "You get to see some great kids and also get your kids a lot of matches too."
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