February 11 Gundrum Rolls Through Changes

By Joe Shinners

            Jordan Gundrum has been rolling through the changes the past four years.

There’s been the three coaches in four years under whom the senior from West Bend East has wrestled. Luckily, one of them was his father, James, as a freshman.

            There’s been his growth in weight class from 126 pounds as a freshman to 160 pounds last year and this year. He’s managed the growth spurt.

            There’s been his dismantling of the school’s wrestling record books. The 177 victories in a career is his favorite

There’s been the change in his offensive attack to avoid a letdown that occurred a year ago at the state individual wrestling tournament when he suffered his only loss of the year. Only time will tell if the changes truly pay off.

And now he has the burden of carrying the No. 1 ranking in the state – his first-ever – to contend with as Gundrum heads into regional competition at 10 a.m. Saturday at Manitowoc. The top four wrestlers in each of the 14 weight classes advance to the sectional level next week.

It’s been quite a ride for Gundrum, who became one of only three area wrestlers this year to win four conference titles last weekend when he won the 160-pound title at the Wisconsin Little Ten Conference meet last Saturday.

“I was pretty excited about that,” said Gundrum of his fourth league title. “I had that goal since I was a freshman. That’s definitely crazy that I used to be 126 (pounds).”

            Gundrum has reset the record books at East. He holds the school career pin record at 108, the careeer win mark (177), pins in a season (34), takedowns in a season (160), near falls in a season (73), career team points in a season (286) and others.

This weekend provides Gundrum with another opportunity to add to his legacy at West Bend East. He’s trying to become the school’s fourth state champion and first since Brett Henschel won the 113 title in 1993.

            He is also a three-time regional champion, a two-time sectional champion and a three-time state qualifier. As a freshman, Gundrum qualified for state but did not place. As a sophomore he placed fourth at 145.

            A year ago, he rolled into the state tournament with a 45-0 record at 160 only to be defeated by a 10-5 decision to Merrill’s Mason Reinhardt, now a senior, in the semifinals and went on to finish third. Reinhardt – currently ranked No. 2 at 170 with a 38-1 record – went on to finish second. Gundrum’s stagnant offense was the problem in his only loss of the year.

            That’s when Gundrum decided to make his biggest change of his career. He opened up his offense to focus on more than his bread-and-butter moves of the fireman’s carry and the duck-under.

            Gundrum’s biggest test during this state tournament series is to see if the changes have paid off and if he learned from his mistakes a year ago.

            “(Reinhardt) beat met with technique,” said Gundrum. “He had a better technique than I did. I’ve added a bunch of moves to my arsenal this year because everyone is going to do their research on me. They know what I’m going to do. I’ve had to add some things.”

            On what he’s added, Gundrum says, “I think I should keep some things secret.”

            First-year East coach Andrew Mueller, who graduated from Manitowoc and was teaching in Texas for eight years before taking a middle school position in West Bend, was thrown into the fire when he took the job this year. But he did have a proven winner in Gundrum who is willing to learn new offensive attacks.

            “I walked into a great situation,” said Mueller. “We have a great youth program, a great middle school program and (Gundrum) is a great wrestler. He’s a hard worker. He’s very coach-able. He’s really developed those other takedowns this year. He’s not relying on that fireman’s anymore. He’s using a lot of other takedowns.”

Gundrum is taking it all in stride at this point. He can’t hide. He’s ranked No. 1.

“It’s a little more pressure being ranked No. 1,” said Gundrum. “It gives me a little more confidence being ranked No. 1. I’ve definitely got a target on my back. If I lose, I’ll be happy if I know I’ve put everything into it.”