Just two years ago, the Portage wrestling team went without a Badger North Conference dual meet win.
The Warriors snapped that skid with a victory over Mt. Horeb last year and earned a second straight victory over the Vikings Friday night with a 45-30 win at Portage High School. The win improves the Warriors to 2-2 in the Badger North this year and coach Shane Haak knows how important that is.
“It’s just great for our kids,” Haak said. “Just the steps the kids have taken and the program has taken is pretty neat to see.”
Things didn’t get off to a strong start for Portage as the Vikings took the first two weight classes, both by pin, for an early 12-0 lead. Following a double forfeit at 106 pounds, junior Matthew Straka got the Warriors on the board at 113.
Facing Trey Frame for the second straight year, Straka earned a second consecutive pinfall victory over the Vikings sophomore. Straka utilized an ankle pick to score a quick takedown and added three near-fall points for a 5-0 lead after the first period. Straka continued that strategy in the second, eventually scoring a takedown and turning Frame for the pin in 3 minutes, 49 seconds.
“Matt’s such a competitor and he knew his match was going to be important for the team,” Haak said. “He tries to lead by example and I think that’s what you saw tonight.”
Straka’s win cut the Portage deficit to 12-6 and the Warriors rolled out in front with forfeit victories at 120, 126, 132 and 138.
Portage senior Dylan Casey, coming off an unbeaten performance at last weekend’s Baraboo Thunderbird Classic, continued his winning ways with a pin at 145 over Mt. Horeb senior Gabo Schloesser. Casey stormed out of the gates, notching a quick takedown and eventually turning Schloesser on his back. Schloesser survived to avoid a first-period pin, but Casey was not to be denied.
He made sure not to let a second chance at a pin slip through his grasp, as he repeated the same formula in the second period. After another quick takedown, Casey turned Schloesser and this time scored the pin at 3:10, securing the match for the Warriors.
“I was feeling really confident on top,” Casey said. “If I can get wrist control and break the guy down, I know I’m going to work him down. It’s just my style.”
“He knew the bonus points were important and that team atmosphere drives him,” Haak said. “His work ethic is a strength of his and he continues to get better as the year goes on and his goal is just to try and continue that.”
Portage junior Sam Bleich won the night’s most competitive match, as the junior scored an 11-6 decision at 170 over Mt. Horeb’s Josh Radke. Bleich never trailed and when he got in trouble, scored late points in both the first and second periods to take away any momentum Radke tried to build.
Trailing 2-0 in the opening period, Radke scored an escape with 15 seconds left but it was Bleich who scored last, notching a takedown with 2 seconds remaining for a 4-1 lead after one. In the second, a reversal by Radke cut Bleich’s lead to 5-3 with 35 seconds left, but the Vikings sophomore went for a pin and gave up a reversal to Bleich with 3 seconds left for a 7-3 lead.
“That’s the difference between going into that next period up two or up four, and that’s a critical difference,” Haak said.
“It gave me a lot of momentum because it’s something we really work on up in the room,” Bleich said.” For me to keep that was my motivation and stay ahead of him.”
PORTAGE 45, MT. HOREB 30
113: Straka, P, pinned Frame, 3:49. 145: Casey, P, pinned Schloesser, 3:10. 170: Bleich, P, dec. Radke, 11-6. 195: Kalscheur, MH, pinned Steines, 0:22. *220: T. Leuzinger, MH, pinned Stout, 1:17. 285: Olinger, MH, pinned Miller, 1:50. 106: Double forfeit. 120, 126, 132, 138, 152: Portage received forfeit. 160, 182: Mt. Horeb received forfeit.