Although his Muskego wrestling team won, 53-11, in its dual meet against Waukesha South on Jan. 12, Sean Fortmann wasn't overly pleased with certain aspects of his team's performance.
It took just one day of practice for the Warriors to get the message, as Muskego showed well with four individual champions and a third-place finish at the Lancer Invite on Jan. 14 at Brookfield Central High School.
"We were pretty lethargic," Fortmann said of the Waukesha South dual. "You win 53-11, there are definitely positives, but they were outmanned in matches we were able to get pins, and they forfeited to some of our better wrestlers. Those other matches, we had some opportunities in the matches we lost, and we just hung on in the ones we won. They were more the aggressors. We just looked a little flat.
"To be able to bounce back on Saturday was a really good sign. We wrestled really well."
The Warriors won eight of 11 matches wrestled and received three forfeits against the Blackshirts to move to 4-1 in Classic 8 duals. Muskego claimed wins or received a forfeit in each of the first eight matches to take a commanding 41-0 lead.
After Jorin McGuire won by forfeit at 285 pounds, Alex Wintheiser pulled out a 3-2 decision over Joey Rozanski at 106 pounds. The Blackshirts forfeited to Parker Bevilacqua at 113 pounds, and Dale Kafura earned a 16-1 technical fall in 3 minutes, 40 seconds over Mohammed Abbasov at 120 pounds.
At 126 pounds, Tyler Schanen won, 10-8, by decision over Ernesto Castro-Lopez.
Muskego then received consecutive pins, as Alex Lai won by fall over Bradey Rohda in 1 minute, 58 seconds at 132 pounds and Tyler Huckstorf pinned Mango Gay in 1 minute, 56 seconds at 138 pounds.
Waukesha South then forfeited to Evan Sinda at 145 pounds. Adam McNally grabbed a 4-2 decision over Dawson Sayles at 160 pounds, Connor Schwartz pinned Travon Trunnell-Olson in 4 minutes 55 seconds at 182 pounds and Gavin McNally won 7-3 over Nick Lindsay at 195 pounds.
"I felt like we were a little sluggish," Fortmann said. "South has a good program. We've had a lot of close duals with them the last few years. We knew the matches where they had some experienced guys were going to be tough. I felt like we were hanging on a lot at the end of matches."
With Wintheiser, Bevilacqua, Schwartz and McGuire winning individual championships and Sinda placing second, Muskego came in third place behind a pair of state-ranked teams.
Seventh-ranked Oak Creek won the tournament with 385 points, followed by third-ranked Sparta with 359 points and Muskego with 300.5 points.
"We took 12 guys — we didn't have two weights covered — and all 12 guys scored," Fortmann said. "As we get closer to conference and regionals, that's how you do well in tournaments like that by having everyone contribute for the team.
"The four champs were great, the second-place finish was great, but the fact everyone had some success and scored points was the best thing to come out of (the Lancer Invite). I honestly didn't think we'd place third there, so that was a nice surprise."
Wintheiser went 5-0 with four pins to win the title at 106 pounds. He downed two state-ranked wrestlers in the process, earning a 3-1 win over Chip Hansen of Whitnall/Greendale in the semifinals and then pinning Blake Brooks of Sparta in 3 minutes, 11 seconds in the finals.
"He continues to surprise me," Fortmann said. "You keep kind of waiting for him to fall off a little bit, but he keeps bouncing back and responding. He's starting to believe he's a pretty good wrestler. He's aggressive, and I think that's why he's had success. He goes out there, and he sets the pace and keeps moving all the time."
Bevilacqua, honorable mention at 113 pounds in the latest state rankings, won all five of his matches by pin. He pinned Messi Elgin of Homestead in 4 minutes, 19 seconds in the semifinals before winning by fall in the finals over Jakob Larson of Sparta in 4 minutes, 53 seconds.
After receiving byes in the first two rounds, Schwartz reached the 182-pound final with a pair of pins. He won the championship match with a 12-0 major decision over state-ranked John Schraith of Pius XI.
Sinda reached the championship match at 145 pounds with a win by decision and two pins before losing, 15-0, by technical fall to 2015 Division 2 state champion Jaden Winchel of Sparta in the finals.
McGuire needed just 5 minutes, 36 seconds to record five wins by pin to take the crown at 285 pounds. Ranked fifth in the state at his weight class, McGuire has received four forfeits in Muskego's five Classic 8 duals, so having five matches in one day was valuable despite such a short time on the mat.
"The tournaments for Jorin are so important because he can go out and wrestle some quality guys and work on what we are working on in the practice room," Fortmann said. "I wish he would have had a little more mat time, but he's being aggressive and is going out and trying new things. He went out and wrestled very well."