The No. 14 Warhawk wrestling team traveled to Eau Claire Feb. 8 to compete in the WIAC Championship and finished second out of the six teams competing, behind UW-La Crosse.
Whitewater wrestlers had great individual performances as well, as they brought home seven top two finishes from the conference championships. Junior Mike Tortorice showed why he’s ranked number three nationally when he won the 125-weight class with a pin at 5:41 in the finals, his second pin of the day. He improved his record to 25-3 on the year.
“[Tortorice] has been a great lead-off man,” head coach Matt Zwaschka said. “He’s definitely in the hunt for a national title and I think he just keeps proving and proving that he’s one of the top wrestlers in the country.”
Junior Hazen Rice entered the day ranked sixth nationally. He proved worthy, winning the 141-pound division with a fall in the finals at the 3:42 mark. Rice wrestled strong all day winning with a technical fall and major decision in the quarterfinal and semifinal matches respectively.
Winning his last two matches by pin, senior Nate Mlodzik won the 174-pound title. On his way to victory, Mlodzik beat No. 3 nationally ranked Sawyer Massie from UW-La Crosse and later teammate Nicholas Bonomo in the championship round. Bonomo still finished second for the Warhawks, picking up technical fall in his earlier match.
Senior Nick Stencel racked up two third period pins and a technical fall on his way to the championship round. Where he had an 8-1 decision match in his favor to win the 184-weight class.
Junior Riley Kauzlaric, ranked fifth nationally, won the 197-pound bracket with a 6-2 decision in the finals. On his way there he won his first and second matches with a major decision and a fall at the 3:36 mark respectively.
Senior Sonny Schieldt reached the finals with a pin in the semifinal match at the 4:44 mark. Schiedt later finished second in the 157-weight class, losing to no. 8 Grant Zamin from the Eagles by an 11-5 decision.
“I think a lot of individuals performed the best they have all year,” Zwaschka said. “I thought we have a lot of momentum going into our regional tournament. I think some kids wrestled some opponents they’ve wrestled earlier in the season and I think we wrestled better against them the second time through.”
The Whitewater wrestlers will be back in Eau Claire on Friday-Saturday, Feb. 22-23 competing in the NCAA Upper Midwest Regional. A top three finish in any of the 10 weight classes will send them to the NCAA Division III Championship in Roanoke, Va. March 8 and 9.
“This will be our third competition up there [Eau Claire] during the month of February,” Zwaschka said. “They’re used to getting their arms raised in that gym.”