By Dan Truttschel

Sports Correspondent

A first-place finish at Saturday’s Oconomowoc Duals was certainly a nice feather in the cap of the Wilmot wrestling team.

But veteran coach John Watson also knows there will be much bigger events down the road.

Wilmot ran the table with a perfect 4-0 record and won the tie-breaker with Janesville Craig to bring home the team title.

The Panthers earned wins over Muskego 42-35, Janesville Craig 36-26, Baraboo 43-25 and Oconomowoc 50-26.

“It’s pretty nice (to win), but we’re taking it too seriously,” Watson said. “(Wisconsin) Rapids isn’t there any more, (Hartland) Arrowhead isn’t there any more.

“I’m not slighting any of the teams that were there, but without those studs there, that gave us a chance to win it.”

Watson said he was pleased with how his team competed from start to finish of the tournament.

“Our kids performed real well,” he said. “We had some ups and downs. I think we wrestled nine or 10 kids who were first-year varsity kids. I think that says a lot for our program.”

Leading the way were five Panthers who finished the day with perfect records – Ryan Gartner (160), Matthew Gray (170), Matt Wagemann (106), Kody Zembal (120) and Heath Gascoigne (220 and heavyweight).

Gartner had four pins en route to his perfect day, while Gray had three. Gascoigne won three matches at 220 pounds before he moved to heavyweight against Muskego.

The first-place finish came on the heels of a dominating 59-13 win over Union Grove in a Southern Lakes Conference and season opener last week.

While the score was lopsided, Watson said he sees improvement from Union Grove, which will only help the Panthers and the rest of the conference down the road.

“They’re putting a pretty full lineup out there on the mat,” he said. “It’s nice to see Union Grove improving. As the conference gets better, it means everybody has to step up their game to get to a high level.”

Winning matches against the Broncos were Justin Russell (195), 8-3; Gascoigne (220), by pin in 55 seconds; Wagemann (106), by pin in 41 seconds; Andrew Heckle (113), by pin in 3:03; Zembal (120), by pin in 1:24; Zach Dere (132), by pin in 3:16; Michael Lindeman (138), 4-0; Collin Berry (145), by pin in 2:42; Gartner (160), by technical fall 20-5; and Gray (170), by pin in 1:58.

Melvin Merkel (152) received a forfeit.

Wilmot was back in action Thursday night against visiting Delavan-Darien, followed by a trip to the Sun Prairie Invitational Saturday, Dec. 10, at 9:30 a.m.

The Panthers have won that invite title the last two years, and Watson is hoping to see his team put together another strong effort.

“We don’t focus on a lot of matches until we get conference and state, but (at) Sun Prairie, we want to look good up there,” he said. “As defending champs, we’d like to come in there and have a good showing.”




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