Mueller and Murphy win prelim matches for Ellsworth
MADISON - Don't let the record fool you. Despite having the most losses of any wrestler in the the WIAA State Tournament Field, Ellsworth freshman wrestler Tristen Mueller proved once again the old saying never judge a book by its cover.
Monroe's Aaron Hesgard found out the hard way as Muller scored a technical fall on the senior wrestler in his first-ever state tournament match in Friday's prelim round at 132 pounds.
Mueller, 33-21 overall, gave up the first takedown to Hesgard (38-11) but hew exploded for a reversal and two-point nearfall which gave him a 4-2 lead at the end of the first period. Mueller says it was the turning point of the match.
"I think he was broken after that," Mueller said. "I don't think he expected it and soon as I was able to ride him everything was working for me."
For the next two periods Mueller was in complete control, scoring nearfalls until he was able to get in the tech. fall before the final buzzer.
Ellsworth head coach Chad Steldt said good riding technique is key for freshman success in wrestling.
"That's an important skill if you want to be a good freshman wrestler," Steldt said. "And he's had a lot of practice from all the matches he's had and from having good working workout partners as well. It's just a case of getting better the more experience and mat time he gets."
Mueller said if one doesn't know the whole story behind his record, it's easy to overlook.
"They're not going to know that I was wrestling up a weight class for much of the season and the fact I've faced some really good competition." Mueller said.
Mueller's win plus that of Jake Murphy at 195 put a positive spin on the day for the Panthers, Murphy's win especially. He left the mat a winner after scoring a reversal with two seconds remaining to beat Ripon's Brady Jacobson 5-4.
Murphy looked to get out the match with a 3-2 win after getting a third period escape but Jacobson got a takedown on him with less than :20 seconds to go. But the exhausted Jacobson could not hold and Murphy came away with his first state meet win.
"Juts getting that first one out of the way is important and hopefully he can now wrestle more aggressively and keep attacking which he's best at." Steldt said.
A Murphy loss would have changed EHS's reaction to the first day completely. That's because the Panthers saw two of their wrestlers eliminated and one in gut wrenching defeat. Brad Cain lost in overtime 5-3 to Luxemburg-Casco's Mason Berceau at 126. Cain led 3-1 and had successfully blocked a takedown attempt as time ticked away in the third period. But Berceau was able to score just before the end of regulation and then got the sudden victory win.
"It was a tough loss but they'll face each other again soon and I know Brad will do a better job." Steldt said.
Ellsworth's John Alabarado also lost in the prelims. He was beaten 13-0 at 106 pounds to Two River's Paul Bianchi.
EHS's sectional champions were byed into the quarterfinals so the Panthers will have five wrestlers in action starting at 11:15 a.m. Ellsworth junior Jens Lantz (39-5) will face junior Josh Murray (33-7) of Marshall at 120; Mueller takes on Lomira senior Alec Sauer (23-3); junior Logan Kemmerer (22-1) will wrestle senior Brandon Broetzmann (31-12) of Sheboygan Falls at 152; junior Gabe Frandsen (42-6) takes on senior Alex Peters of West Salem/Bangor (45-5) and Murphy, a senior, (28-12) will wrestle junior Scott Skornicka (38-8) of Two Rivers. Winner s go on to Friday's semifinals staring at 7 p.m. while the rest head to the consolation rounds which will take place in the afternoon.