With seven dual meets, the Northern Exposure Tournament tests the strength of a wrestling team.
Led by undefeated wrestlers Jake Belongia and Jaron Radish, New Berlin passed the mental and physical test. The co-op won six of its seven matches to take fourth place at the two-day, 18-team event held Dec. 28 and 29 at Merrill High School, moving its season dual-meet record to 14-1.
"This was a great tournament for us as a team," New Berlin coach Patrick Detmer said. "We learned how to compete when we were physically and mentally fatigued over two grueling days of wrestling.
"The kids learned how to respond to adversity. We wrestled some physical teams, especially Mineral Point and Port Washington. There are two ways to respond when a team gets physical with you. You can fold up or fight back. Our kids fought back and fought back hard on the second day of wrestling."
New Berlin began the tournament with wins over Waukesha South (41-23), Manawa (70-6) and Rice Lake (45-33). After falling 55-18 to Mineral Point, which is ranked No. 4 in Division 3, New Berlin bounced back to close the first day of the tournament with a 53-24 win over Merrill.
The second day of the tournament gave New Berlin difficult duals against Port Washington and Beaver Dam.
Down 27-23 to Port Washington with three matches to go, Tony Scaffidi won 5-4 by decision at 132 pounds, Peter Katris rallied from a 4-0 deficit to win 10-8 in overtime at 138 pounds and Mike Baumann sealed a 35-27 win with a pin in 1 minute, 44 seconds at 145 pounds.
New Berlin again rallied late in its final dual, overcoming a 10-point deficit for a 37-34 win over Beaver Dam. Katris won 5-2 at 138 pounds, and Baumann earned a major decision at 16-7 at 145 pounds to leave the dual up to Nate Clark, who was making his varsity debut at 152 pounds. Clark came through in the clutch, earning a pin in 1:32 to give New Berlin the win.
Belongia and Radish each went 7-0 for the tournament, while Tony Scaffidi, Katris and Baumann were 6-1.
"The duals against Port Washington and Beaver Dam on the second day of wrestling were very exciting," Detmer said. "Peter Katris rallied from a 4-0 deficit in his match to win in overtime. Donoven Acevedo fought off of his back to record a pinfall at 220 pounds, and Tony Scaffidi and Mike White both won tight matches that helped us lock up the dual victory.
"We knew the dual against Beaver Dam was going to be tight as well. We got some big wins from Peter Katris and Mike Baumann to pull us within three points. Nate Clark got a critical pinfall for us in the last match to seal the win. He had a solid varsity debut for us at 152 pounds. We were very impressed with his performance, and he came through for our team in a big way this weekend."