A term used quite often in high school wrestling is “meat grinder”. It is used in most instances to describe a tough tournament where wrestlers do battle with highly ranked, stronger wrestlers in nearly every round. Tournaments like the Battle on the Bay, the Marty Loy Classic, and the Cheesehead Invitational are prime local examples of this term. While not on the same level as these tourneys, the first North Eastern Conference Triple Dual held Thursday night is pretty close, considering that the ten teams in the conference have produced 11 team state championships and 65 individual state champions in their histories.
With all ten teams in the conference having three dual meets each, the triple dual gave everyone in the conference a chance to see the rest of the conference. The Wrightstown Tigers of co-head coaches Matt and Bill Verbeten earned three dual victories in the triple dual, improving to 4-0 in the conference on the young season.
“This tournament gives you a measuring stick for the rest of the conference,” said co-head coach Matt Verbeten. “You get to see the other teams battle and it gives you a pretty good gauge of where you are sitting against the bigger guns in the conference.”
While wrestling to relatively easy victories over Little Chute (66-9) and Clintonville (78-6), the Tigers found themselves in a battle with the Denmark Vikings. After a loss by Preston Kussow at 126 pounds, the Tigers rattled off eight victories in the next nine matches, survived suffering three pins in the last five matches, and earned a hard fought 40-26 victory over the Vikings.
“Denmark is tough; they really came to battle,” said co-head coach Matt. “They wrestled us well. They knew what we wanted to do and they were working well on defense. Our big guns stepped up. Josh (Verbeten), Ben (Klister), and Stetson (Burmeister) stepped up and we had a couple of guys step in for us. And Travis Leick moving up a weight and getting a win was awesome. It was a total team effort.”
Leick earned a 9-3 victory at 182 pounds, while Klister got a pin at 152, and Burmeister had a 12-6 victory at 195.
Joshua Verbeten had a particularly good night for the Tigers. The senior, wrestling at 160 pounds, earned three pins on the evening, with two of them coming in the first period. But just like the team battle, his toughest battle of the night was against Denmark’s Max Schmitz. Verbeten earned the pin at 3:50.
“Josh wrestled a tough kid. The kid from Denmark was a quality kid. We didn’t wrestle him at the Battle on the Bay, but we saw him there,” Matt Verbeten said. “We knew it was going to be a good match. You can’t take those kids lightly or they are going to beat you. Josh kept working and stay focused. He gave up a takedown, but he didn’t lose focus, kept grinding and did what he does.”
For Joshua, the work that the coaches put them through in practice prepares the team for a dual meet like this.
“As a team we had a great night; we were focused all week in practice,” the young Verbeten said. “Coaches were pushing us hard. I think the ability of the guys we have pushes us in practice and makes us wrestle the best we can. I am looking forward to the Marty Loy this Saturday.”
The Tigers next travel to Fond du Lac on Saturday, December 19th for one of those meat grinder tournaments, the Marty Loy Classic. The largest one-day tournament in the state of Wisconsin, wrestling begins at 7am, with the finals approximately at 6pm.
FREEDOM 82, MARINETTE 0
LUXEMBURG-CASCO 84, FOX VALLEY LUTHERAN 0
DENMARK 76, CLINTONVILLE-MARION 6
OCONTO FALLS 67, WAUPACA 9
WRIGHTSTOWN 66, LITTLE CHUTE 9
FREEDOM 81, CLINTONVILLE-MARION 0
LUXEMBURG-CASCO 78, MARINETTE 6
WRIGHTSTOWN 40, DENMARK 26
OCONTO FALLS 84, FOX VALLEY LUTHERAN 0
LITTLE CHUTE 40, WAUPACA 30
LUXEMBURG-CASCO 67, LITTLE CHUTE 12
WRIGHTSTOWN 78, CLINTONVILLE-MARION 6
WAUPACA 33, MARINETTE 24
FREEDOM 81, FOX VALLEY LUTHERAN 0