Wisco Flexes Muscles at Milwaukee Luthern Invite

By Joe Shinners

    Wisconsin Lutheran wrestling coach Darrell Roecker was looking for some evidence that his Vikings had improved this year at the 8th Red Knight Invitational that concluded Saturday afternoon at Milwaukee Lutheran.

    Headed into his team’s big Wisconsin Little Ten Conference dual next week with Hartford, the Vikings showed enough to more than satisfy their coach after the two-day tournament.

    Roecker watched the Vikings dismantle the field at the 19-team invitational by sending eight wrestlers to the finals, claiming four individual champions and winning the overall title with 266 points.

    La Crosse Aquinas finished second with 193 points, followed by Waukesha Catholic Memorial (191), Milwaukee Heritage Christian (172) and Lake Mills Lakeside Lutheran (136).

    “I was pleased with our effort all weekend,” said Roecker, whose team is ranked No. 7 in the area. “We had been wrestling very well (coming into the tournament), but I didn’t expect to do this well.”

    Two Vikings sophomores – 103-pounder Devin Caira and 112-pounder Mason McMullen – gave Lutheran a huge lift by winning unexpected titles.

    Caira (16-7) built a 5-0 lead after two periods but needed a third-period reversal to hold on for a 7-4 victory over Madison Edgewood sophomore Kris Neumann (23-4) in the final at 103. McMullen (11-9) had no trouble in winning the 112 final as he defeated Heritage Christian senior Jordan Martin (16-8) by a 12-4 major decision.

     Lutheran seniors Cody Petersen (21-5 at 152) and Kevin Zeitler (24-1 at 285) also had impressive tournaments.

    Peterson avenged one of his losses this year when he cradled and pinned Tyler Zimmerman (18-8) in 3 minutes 58 seconds to win the 152 final. Petersen was named Outstanding Wrestler at the tournament after winning his second tournament title.

    Zeitler, one of the top wrestlers in the area at 285, made quick work of the field. He posted three pins in a total of 3:11 on his title march. In the final, he pinned Milwaukee Marquette sophomore Casey Geilenfeldt (15-6) in 1:22.

    Lutheran blew out the field with a nearly perfect second round Saturday morning. The Vikings won 12 of 13 matches between the semifinals and the wrestlebacks to pull away.

    “We wrestled absolutely fantastic,” said Roecker. “At one point, we had four matches going on at one time and we won all four of them.”

    Waukesha Catholic Memorial junior Chris Weber (21-1) used a takedown with 11 seconds left in the third period to defeat Vikings junior Tyree Roberts by a 5-3 decision in the 215 final. It was Weber’s second straight title here.

    Kenosha St. Joseph senior Austin Lemens (19-1) returned to the finals for the third time, winning at 119 this year after winning at 103 two years ago and finishing second last year. Lemens picked up two pins before tech falling Vikings freshman Ryan Whitehouse (14-8), 18-2, in 3:58.

    Milwaukee Lutheran senior Maxx Liebecki (16-12) posted the biggest comeback win in the championship round. Liebecki trailed Sheboygan Area Lutheran/County Christian junior Casey Krahn, 7-2, entering the third period of their final at 130. But Liebecki never allowed Krahn to escape in the third and finally used a cradle to turn and pin Krahn (19-5) with only two seconds left in the match.