Hartford Retains Little 10 Glory

By Joe Shinners

    The Hartford Orioles wrestling team was overlooked at the beginning of the season. Everyone talked about Wisconsin Lutheran as the new league power.

    Forget all about the slight. The Orioles have their swagger and bragging rights back.

    Hartford, ranked No. 8 in the area, defeated the host Wisconsin Lutheran Vikings, 45-19, Friday night at Lutheran in the Wisconsin Little Ten Conference to show that the Orioles are still the team to beat in the league, and a team once again on the rise in the area.

    “Our guys felt like we were overlooked a bit to start the year,” said Hartford coach Steve Best. “And they felt people were counting us out. Our kids were feeling the pressure tonight. There were a lot of butterflies in the kids’ stomachs tonight. It was a good night.”

    Hartford improved to 6-0 in the league and 15-2 overall while dropping No. 6-ranked Lutheran to 14-2 and 5-1. Both teams are favored to win their final league duals next week.

    The Orioles won 10 of the 14 matches and picked up three crucial pins after Lutheran grabbed a 19-12 lead midway through the dual that began at 145 pounds.

    Lutheran was hurt by the absence of senior Brandon Bilden at 145 pounds. He injured a knee last weekend and is scheduled for surgery next week. His backup was out with pink eye.

    Bilden’s absence was a key as Lutheran coach Darrell Roecker was forced to alter his lineup from the start. Hartford took advantage and won the first three matches and four of the first five to take a 12-3 lead.

    Hartford seniors Adam Linder and Patrick Kenealy recorded important victories to start the dual. Linder used a takedown with 12.3 seconds left to turn back Lutheran senior Tim Filter at 145 in a 4-0 decision. Kenealy used a late reversal and two-point nearfall to score the evening’s biggest upset by beating Lutheran senior Cody Petersen by a 10-8 decision at 152.

    Hartford junior Ben Bunzel also held on for a tight victory. His takedown with 17 seconds left sealed his 9-4 victory over Lutheran senior Tony Sawall at 160.

    “It was a good night,” said Best. “They definitely got the ball rolling. Adam Linder is a solid 145 pounder. But they had to make the switch with Bilden out.”

    Lutheran was left scrambling for points to get back in the dual, and received pins from senior Kevin Zeitler (285) and sophomore Devin Caira (103) and a major decision from junior Tyree Roberts (215) to take a 19-12 lead after eight matches.

    The Vikings, however, couldn’t finish off Hartford.

    In all three matches the Vikings eventually gave up a pin, they held the lead only to be turned and pinned.

    The most important was at 125 pounds, where promising Hartford freshman Erik Becker fought off his back and eventually pinned Lutheran freshman Ryan Whitehouse in 3:26 as Hartford took a 30-19 lead.

    “I thought we were prepared,” said Roecker. “We haven’t been pinned like that in a long time. We’re not used to that. Not having Bilden in there hurt, but if those early matches go differently maybe it’s a different match. Give all the credit to Hartford.”

    The matches didn’t go Lutheran’s way, as Hartford neared another dual meet league title and turned back Lutheran’s coronation as the league’s best.

    “(Lutheran) is a good, solid outfit,” said Best. “I always said you have to focus on conference first, and the rest of the year will take care of itself. I thought we wrestled well tonight.


Hartford 45, Wisconsin Lutheran 19

    145 – Adam Linder, H, def. Tim Filter, 4-0; 152 – Patrick Kenealy, H, def. Cody Petersen, 10-8; 160 – Ben Bunzel, H, def. Tony Sawall, 9-4; 171 – Mike Buell, WL, def. Jordan Hamilton, 5-3; 189 – Nick Broadway, H, def. John Klein, 7-2; 215 – Tyree Roberts, WL, def. Sean Fuiten, 14-3; 285 – Kevin Zeitler, WL, pinned John Gougar, 2:53; 103 – Devin Caira, WL, pinned Ben Schmirler, 1:10; 112 – Zach Durante, H, pinned Mason McMullen, 3:09; 119 – Jarid Baumgartner, H, pinned Mike Hernandez, 2:59; 125 – Erik Becker, H, pinned Ryan Whitehouse, 3:26; 130 – Weston Klink, H, pinned Charlie Galecki, 2:41; 135 – Danny Allen, H, def