Franklin Surprises at Park Regional

By Joe Shinners

    Racine – Franklin wrestling coach Louis Brown admits he had no clue what to expect from his young team Saturday afternoon when the Sabers began competition at the Division 1 Racine Park Sectional.

    He left the gymnasium pleasantly surprised by Franklin’s performance as the Sabers had three individual champions and qualified a tournament-high six wrestlers for the state individual tournament next week.

    Oak Creek won three titles and advanced five wrestlers, followed by South Milwaukee with four qualifiers in a surprisingly strong showing and Whitnall and Racine Park with three qualifiers each.

The state individual tournament is to be held Thursday through Saturday at the Kohl Center.

    “Normally when I go to a sectional, I kind of know how many champions I’m going to have,” said Brown. “But this year, I didn’t know. We only have two seniors. They are a bunch of hard workers. They keep busting it. It’s nice to win some close matches. The guys really wrestled well.”

    Franklin freshman Sam Kortes (38-4) scored one of the biggest upsets when he defeated Milwaukee Pulaski junior Jeremy Kuklinski (42-2) by a 6-5 decision in the final at 103 pounds.

    Kortes lost by two points to Kuklinski earlier this year, but a takedown with 41 seconds left and solid riding enabled Kortes to turn the tables this time.

    Kuklinski, a two-time qualifier, took a 4-0 lead but was never able to maintain control or establish an ability to escape in the third. Both wrestlers qualified for state.

“I think he was very aware of what he was missing today,” said Pulaski coach Joe Flick. “Hopefully, we can go to work this week and correct some things.”

The other big upset of the day was turned in by Milwaukee Marquette junior Scot McCullough (32-10), whose takedown in overtime allowed him to post a 4-2 victory over Racine Park senior Tyler Dombeck (30-8) in the final at 140.

Franklin senior Adam Tadeo (38-4) also pulled out a close victory. He beat Whitnall senior Jake Noel (44-3) by a 4-3 decision in the 125 final. Tadeo, a state qualifier a year ago, also was able to win by riding Noel out during the crucial moments in the third period in a battle between two three-time qualifiers.

“Tadeo has beat some quality kids lately,” said Brown. “He’s really come on since he lost at conference.”

Franklin also received a title from junior Josh Larson (33-9) at 135. He beat South Milwaukee senior Jordan Aiosa (23-15) by a 9-1 major decision.

 “We won close matches and that shows we’re in good condition,” said Brown. “We’re in good shape. They really had to bust it to be a champ here.”

Oak Creek’s champions came from two-time sophomore qualfier Kyle Wey (25-3 at 171), senior Josh Howard (34-8 at 130) and junior Mitch Pordon (189). Junior Jordan Hauerwas (29-9) finished second at 145 and qualified for the second time.

Lemmer cruises: Milwaukee Bradley Tech senior Jeff Lemmer qualified for the state meet for the third time as he blew through the bracket with two pins and a technical fall at 160 pounds.

Lemmer (48-0) pinned South Milwaukee junior Jake Pavlovic (34-10) in 3:52 after building a 22-6 lead.

Tech qualified two wrestlers, and faded down the stretch after a solid season.

“A lot of people had their chances,” said Lemmer. “It just didn’t go their way.”

Lemmer hasn’t won a match in Madison and isn’t looking past anyone this year.

“That’s what got me in trouble last year, looking at the bracket and people saying I could beat this guy or that guy,” said Lemmer. “I’m just taking it one match at a time. But I’m confident. I’m going to go up there confident.”

Witkiewicz moves on: Three-time qualifier David Witkiewicz (45-1), a Whitnall senior, posted three pins as he punched his return ticket to Madison.

In the final, he pinned South Milwaukee junior Charlie Mitchell (40-3) in 1:14.

“My goal is to place in the top four,” Witkiewicz said. “I’m trying not to worry about it too much.” 


This article was first published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel