Falls wrestlers live up to favorite's tag and win GMC tourney title

Indians earn four individual championships

Menomonee Falls’ wrestler Bill Holz (left) won his third straight individual GMC title on Feb. 7 as the Indians defended their league tournament championship.

Menomonee Falls’ wrestler Bill Holz (left) won his third straight individual GMC title on Feb. 7 as the Indians defended their league tournament championship. Photo By Peter Zuzga

Feb. 9, 2014

Last year's Greater Metro Conference tournament title won at Marquette was a bit of a surprise for the Menomonee Falls wrestling team.

But this year, before their own home fans Friday night, the Indians took the favorite's mantle and wore it proudly, earning four individual titles and six second-place finishes in cruising to a repeat tournament championship.

"It's just a good way to end the regular season," said a tired Falls coach Jim McMahon, who was helping with the cleanup well after the 9:30 p.m. finish. "It was nice to defend. We definitely came in as the favorite and we talked to the kids about it.

"We told them that they should go out and win this tournament. They did and they took a lot of pressure off themselves by doing it."

That they did.

"It was super exciting to do it this way," senior 182-pound champ Jake Fuiten said. "We just went out and wrestled in a dominating fashion. Everyone wrestled their hearts out."

The meet was one of the first for Falls where they were close to full power and the results showed, said junior Bill Holz, who easily won his third straight GMC crown, the 120-pound class.

"It was pretty impressive," he said. "We've had so many varsity tournaments this season and not one full lineup. It was nice to see the damage we could do in a situation like this."

The Indians scored 2561/2 points to easily outdistance runner-up West Allis Central (2111/2) and third-place West Allis Hale (197). The title was also the first-ever repeat championship for the Indians in the 17-year history of the GMC and it also marked the first time that Falls had won both the dual meet and tournament championships in the same season.

Individual titles were claimed by Aaron Daly at 113 pounds, Bill Holz at 120, McMahon's son, Jake, at 138 and by Jake Fuiten at 182.

For Holz, it was his third straight league crown while for Daly it was his second.

Falls also had six individual runner-up finishes, as Eric Wunsch at 106, Jeff Kleser at 126, Casey Crangle at 145, Tyler Simcock at 160, Brandon Schafer at 195 and Trayvon Handy at 285 all made the finals as well.

The Indians won the title despite coming up a bit short of coach McMahon's goal of 20 pins for the meet (they had 10).

In a nice turn of events, the veteran coach couldn't help but be proud for his son, who earned his first-ever individual league title.

Jake McMahon picked up a first-round bye and then pinned a Central opponent (1:52) and then overpowered a Marquette foe by a major decision (12-4) in the final to finish undefeated for the conference season.

"I really credit my kid," laughed coach McMahon. "It's very nice. He takes part in three sports (cross country and track, too) and I don't know where he finds the time. He just gets the most mileage (out of his talent)."

Daly had a first-round bye, too, and then beat a Brookfield Central foe by major decision (12-2) and then edged a Hale opponent in the final, 4-2. He will likely go down to 106 pounds for next Saturday's WIAA regional tourney, which the Indians also host.

It's the weight class in which he was state runner-up in 2013.

Holz continued his dominating season with a sound tournament. He had a bye and then beat a Sussex Hamilton opponent on a technical fall before overpowering a West Allis Central foe, 10-4, in the final.

"We all did what we needed to do today," he said. "We didn't get as many pins as we would have liked today, but we exceeded our expectations in terms of number of guys in the finals (10)."

Fuiten kept his late-season surge going with an impressive effort. After a bye, he pinned a Hamilton competitor (1:18) and then stuck a Hale foe, who he had to work hard to beat in a dual meet earlier this season, with a spectacular move at the edge of the mat right at the end of the first period (1:59).

"It was 0-0 and we were all ready to go to the second period and then he pulls that off," coach McMahon said. "It was really sweet."

"I don't even have a name (for that move)," Fuiten said. "I sort of made it up as a I went along. ...We're both pretty good wrestlers....But he gave me a chance and I took advantage."

The only real disappointment on the day was Crangle, who entered the tourney ranked in the state's top five and was a defending league champion. He fell to Central's tough Mark Choinski, 8-5, in the final.

"Their dual had been a close match, too," coach McMahon said.

The coach was pleased for the senior Kleser, who qualified for state as a freshman, but then struggled to make the varsity lineup the last few years. Fellow senior Austin Klein also had two pins in taking third at 132, and the freshman Schafer continued to impress with his runner-up finish at 195.

Freshman Eric Wunsch also came in for praise, as he has held down the fort well at 106, losing only to a tough Central opponent in the final.

"He really struggled early in his youth career," coach McMahon said, "but he's a kid who's worked his way through our ranks to become a great asset to our program."

Overall, coach McMahon, whose team advanced to the WIAA State Team Tournament last season, thought the title was a lesson in patience as Falls had all 14 wrestlers finish in the top five of their respective weight classes.

"We were just steady all night," he said. "Everyone contributed. Good things happen to those who persevere and tonight we persevered."

And with WIAA regionals, sectionals and state coming, the Indians are just getting warmed up.

"It's been a great year," Holz said, "but it's not over yet."


WIAA TOURNAMENT: The Indians, a 2013 WIAA State Team Tourney qualifier, try to get back to that event, starting with their own regional tourney at 10:15 a.m. Saturday. The top four individuals in each weight class advance to the individual sectional tournament at Milwaukee Riverside on Feb. 22 while the regional team champion takes on the winner of the Nicolet regional in a dual Feb. 18 for the right to advance to the team state tournament. Falls beat Wauwatosa last season for that berth. North Shore champ Cedarburg will be the Indians primary opposition in the regional. 2013 state tourney qualifier Jerott Holz is expected back in the lineup after missing several weeks with a should injury.

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