Muskego's wrestling team wanted to set a physical tone to the start of the second half of its season.
The Warriors did just that Jan. 5 by taking it to conference foe Kettle Moraine and winning nine of the 13 matches wrestled with six pins in a 52-16 dual-meet win. Muskego continued its roll by winning the Bauer Brawl at West Allis Hale on Jan. 7.
"It was a good way to start the second half," Muskego coach Sean Fortmann said. "We've been training pretty hard. We just wanted to see where we were at. The kids went out and wrestled hard. I thought we were in a little bit better shape than Kettle Moraine, and I thought we were a little bit more physical. I think that showed on the scoreboard."
Kettle Moraine's John Crawford opened the dual with an 11-0 major decision over Tyler Schanen at 132 pounds.
Muskego then began a run of three consecutive pins to grab control. Tyler Huckstorf pinned Hailey Valleskey in 3 minutes, 12 seconds at 138 pounds, Evan Sinda needed 1 minute, 33 seconds for a fall over Jared Albrecht at 145 pounds and Ben Terloin pinned Michael Haley in 1 minute, 10 seconds at 152 pounds.
The match of the dual came at 160 pounds between Kettle Moraine's Andre Lirette and Muskego's Adam McNally.
Lirette recorded a takedown in the first period to lead 2-0. McNally used a pair of escapes and a takedown to even the match at 4-4 heading to the third. Lirette started the final period on the bottom and took a 6-4 advantage with a reversal. But McNally, wrestling up a weight class, escaped and took Lirette down to go up 7-6.
In the final seconds of the match, Lirette nearly reversed control, which would have earned him the win. However, McNally held onto control and didn't even allow the escape that would have sent the match to overtime.
"I was a little slow to begin with," McNally said. "But at the end, he was a little tired, and he wasn't in as good of position as he was in the beginning. I saw I had an opening, so I took a shot and went for it.
"I just held on. I knew there was a little bit of time left, so I just held on. I wanted to make sure he didn't get two and that at worst he would get one."
Tyler Larsen kept Muskego's run going with a 5-0 win over Jacob Kastner at 170 pounds.
Kettle Moraine then rattled off three straight wins, as Michael Burgireno pinned Connor Schwartz in 4 minutes at 182 pounds, Josh Nowak won 5-1 over Gavin McNally at 195 pounds and Josh Wedesky used a late takedown for a 4-2 victory over Jakob Hein at 220 pounds.
"It was a physical night, and unfortunately, Muskego was the one being physical," Kettle Moraine co-head coach Dustin Hitz said. "They wrestled last week, and we had some time off after Badger State got canceled on us. Not to make excuses, but maybe we were a little rusty. They moved guys around like we did. We wrestled some of their better kids like we wanted and came out in some of those matches. Unfortunately, they were the ones that were more physical today."
After the Lasers forfeited to Jorin McGuire at 285 pounds, the Warriors rattled off three straight pins, two of which came when trailing in the match.
Alex Wintheiser was down 8-2 and nearly was pinned by Dawson Valleskey at 106 pounds before he flipped his fortunes with a quick reversal and pin in 3 minutes 11 seconds. At 120 pounds, Parker Belilacqua was quickly taken down and put on his back by Turner Truttschel. Belilacqua avoided the fall and reversed control, eventually pinning Truttschel in 1 minute, 57 seconds.
"We were leading matches, and we got pinned," Hitz said. "Those are three matches where you have a chance to pin and you get pinned. That's a 12-point swing in each match, so there are 36 points."
Hunter Albrecht pinned Josh Garvens in 1 minute, 43 seconds at 113 pounds, and Dale Kafura wrapped up the dual with a 13-1 major decision over Jake Garvens at 126 pounds.
"It is a good start for our team to the second half," Adam McNally said. "As a team, we wrestled really physical tonight. That's something we really have been working on. That was a good thing. It showed in how we wrestled."
With four individual champions, the Warriors racked up 202.5 team points to edge host Hale by 2½ points to win the Bauer Brawl.
Bevilacqua earned a pin in 1 minute, 56 seconds in the quarterfinals, won a 7-5 decision in the semifinals and then pulled out a 7-5 overtime win over Charlie Wagner of Hale in the finals at 113. After receiving a bye in the quarterfinals, Sinda won 8-4 in the semifinals and then pinned Bryan Jordan of Hale in 5 minutes, 35 seconds to win the championship at 145.
Schwartz collected a pin in 1 minute, 46 seconds in his quarterfinal match, claimed a 3-0 win in the semifinals and edged Steve Djurina of Franklin, 3-2, in the finals at 182. McGuire cruised to the finals with pins in 49 and 42 seconds but received a challenge in the 285-pound championship, where he won, 2-1, over Liam Arnold of Milwaukee King.
Wintheiser (106 pounds), Adam McNally (160) and Gavin McNally (195) took second place, while Huckstorf (138), Terlion (152) and Hein (220) came in third.