February 19 Pewaukee Gets Last Laugh, and Team State Berth

By Joe Shinners

Special to the Journal Sentinel

            Mukwonago – The tension between the Whitnall/Greendale and Pewaukee Pirates wrestling teams has been simmering all season long.

In the end, the Pirates and their coach Ed Kurth had the last laugh as they won two crucial swing matches and pulled out a 31-23 victory over Whitnall/Greendale Tuesday night in a dual that began at 170 pounds to win the Division 1 team sectional final at Mukwonago and advance to the state team tournament for the fifth time overall.

Whitnall/Greendale, the first-year co-op that received a lot of negative attention this year, was denied a chance at state in its first season and finished 31-5 this year. Whitnall last qualified for the state team tournament in 1995.

Pewaukee (16-3) is to face Wisconsin Rapids in the Division 1 quarterfinals on March 6 at the UW-Fieldhouse in Madison.

There was bad blood between these two teams all season long over the merger, but Whitnall/Greendale coach John Quinlan and Kurth finally found something to agree on in the final meeting between the teams this year.

The dual was decided by the outcomes of the matches at 182 and 145.

Both went Pewaukee’s way and so did the Pirates first berth in the Division 1 field after qualifying four times in Division 2. A year ago, Pewaukee finished second in Division 2.

Both swing matches were decided in the final seconds as Pewaukee avenged a 36-30 loss to Whitnall during the Woodland Conference dual meet season.

At 182, Pewaukee senior Jacob Becker (29-17) outlasted Whitnall/Greendale senior Ryan Olson (37-10) in a marathon seven-period thriller by a 3-2 margin on the ultimate tiebreaker. Becker scored his final point when he rode Olson in the final 15-second overtime period. It was the fourth overtime period of the match.

Pewaukee jumped out to a 20-0 lead by winning the first five matches. Pewaukee sophomore Jacob Raschka (47-1) opened the dual by pinning Whitnall/Greendale junior Chase Kendall (19-13) in 1:38 at 170.

Whitnall/Greendale came back to win five of the next six matches from 106 to 132 to tie the dual at 20-20. Whitnall/Greendale senior Josh Rinka (23-21) pinned Pewaukee freshman Caden Evers (6-14) in 2:58 to start the run.

At 145, Pewaukee senior Matt Fritchen (28-16) came through when Pewaukee needed it most. Fritchen’s takedown with 15 seconds left in the third period gave him a 6-4 victory over Whitnall/Greendale senior Blake Leslie (14-5) and basically sealed the dual. Fritchen’s takedown gave the Pirates a 28-20 lead with two matches remaining.

“Give them credit,” said Quinlan, whose team was hurt by the absence of injured senior state qualifier Nick Monty (152). “They won the close ones. Obviously, it was a big challenge without Monty. But we had our chances. In a title match, you’ve got to win the close ones.”

Every other match in the dual went as expected with Pewaukee dominating the upper weights, and Pewaukee dominating the lower weights.

“When we won at 182, we knew we were in control,” said Kurth. “When we won at 145, we knew it was over.”