By Adam Reed
Feb. 10, 2016
The 14th-ranked UW-Whitewater wrestling team competed in its last home meet on Feb. 4, followed by a road trip to UW-Eau Claire for the Don Parker Open on Feb. 6.
It was a tale of two very different events for the Warhawks, who could not find a way to win. The UW-Parkside Rangers, who the Warhawks had just defeated in the Pete Willson-Wheaton Invitational on Jan. 29-30, won every single match.
“Obviously we have been looking forward to this,” UW-Parkside head coach Gregg Lewis said. “They placed ahead of us in the Pete Willson, and our guys…they wrestled great, I don’t think anyone who was here could say anything other than they wrestled great, so we’re really pleased.”
Junior Zac Denny lost the first match by major decision at 125. His performance was followed by fellow junior Joseph Brodman, who fell by a final score of 4-2, the closest the Warhawks would come to a victory at the event, which they eventually lost by an overall score of 44-0.
Three seniors competed in the event for UW-W. Tom Gerszewski wrestled at 165 pounds, Kory Jauch wrestled at 157 pounds and Corey Meyer wrestled at 141 pounds. It was the last time they would do so in front of their home crowd.
“I felt like I was going after my attacks, but I was just getting stopped right away,” Gerszewski said. “I’ve been really happy with my time here as a Warhawk. A lot of great memories. This wasn’t the memory that I’d like to cap it on, but what’s important is the end of the season at nationals, and if I accomplish my goals there this isn’t even going to be something I ever remember.”
Gerszewski lost his match by the second smallest margin of defeat, with a final score of 6-2. Gerszewski registered a takedown just 45 seconds into the match, but was shaken up towards the end of the first round and was unable to hold the lead.
The rest of the team didn’t fare any better, losing four matches by major decision, three matches by pin and one match by technical fall.
“It was embarrassing,” head coach Ned Shuck said. “We just got out-wrestled. Out-wrestled at the end of the period, which usually we’ve been pretty solid at, [the opposing team] scoring late on us or scoring the last takedown to get bonus points for them. Going from beating that team individually at a big tournament not a week ago, to having a performance like that is really frustrating.”
The team had a quick turnaround, going on the road after a day off to compete in the Don Parker Open Invitational in Eau Claire.
The Warhawks had five top-five finishes at the event, with sophomore Nick Koch winning the championship at 133 pounds, pinning Sam Bennyhoff of Ausburg College (Minnesota).
“Nick [Koch] had a great tournament,” Shuck said. “He ended up pinning a kid from Ausburg that’s having a real good year so far, and it’s not just one of those things where he caught him and pinned him, he really controlled the whole match.”
Koch was not the only Warhawk to finish top five in the 133 pound weight class. He was joined by fellow sophomore Austin Quartullo and junior Ronny Hauser, who Koch defeated in the semifinal round. Hauser went on to finish third, defeating Quartullo and leaving him with a fourth-place finish.
At 141 pounds, freshman Brandon Peshek placed fifth, losing to Nathaniel Behnke of UW-Eau Claire in the round of eight by decision, 9-2.
Sophomore Maxx Hubbard finished third at 149 pounds, losing to the eventual champion, Rashad Kennedy of Ausburg College (Minnesota) by major decision, 12-3.
Sophomore Connor Price started out 3-0 at 174 pounds, but was forced to bow out of the semifinal matchup with eventual champion Sean O’neil of UW-LaCrosse with an undisclosed injury.
“It was nothing serious,” Shuck said of the injury. “We’re just at that time of the year where we don’t want to risk anything.”
The Warhawks are indeed at “that time of year,” with the conference tournament set for Feb. 14 at UW-Stevens Point.