By Greg Bates
ACN & Times-Press
Two Shiocton wrestlers will end their careers in a familiar place: the Kohl Center.
Seniors Sammy Van Straten (138) and Levi Snortum (145) will make return trips to the state meet after placing runner-up in their respective weight classes in the WIAA Division 3 Bonduel Sectional at Shawano on Saturday, Feb. 17.
“That’s basically what we start with every year, try to get at least two through,” Shiocton coach Eric Clausen said. “This year was kind of a rough one. We had a lot of guys on the bubble, so we are hoping to knock at least three in, maybe four. But obviously that didn’t happen.”
Six other Shiocton wrestlers competed at sectionals but didn’t place: Ethan Flannery (120), Jared Jahnke (126), Billy Reif (170), Blake Johnson (182), Tyler Hess (195) and Ben Gunderson (285).
Van Straten will be competing at state for the third time – not placing as a sophomore and finishing runner-up last season, both at 138. Snortum will be making back-to-back trips after losing his only match at state in 2017.
Van Straten, who is ranked No. 9 in his weight class, according to WiWrestling.com, had a relatively easy time getting to the championship match, scoring pins against Pittsville’s Tyler Dammann (5:12) and Gillett/Suring’s Sam Lemens (4:41).
For the title, Van Straten met his nemesis, Stratford’s Jeremy Schoenherr. Van Straten (42-4) lost to Schoenherr (33-0) in last year’s state championship match, 5-1. Schoenherr, who is ranked No. 1, won the sectional title by major decision, 17-6.
“The Achilles’ heel right now is Schoenherr, basically,” Clausen said.
Van Straten — who isn’t scoring as many points as he did last year, which has concerned Clausen – went after Schoenherr and pushed him.
“We kind of changed his style up a little bit,” Clausen said. “He hasn’t been as offensive as he was last year and he’s kind of going into a more conservative mode, and that’s not him. We changed his style up, especially from the feet. We knew Schoenherr was going to come out and snap us. Schoenherr is just brutal with snap downs and stuff. We put him in a three-point stance to start out and just take some pretty off those snaps and make him shoot from a distance. Otherwise, he’s tying everybody up, and that’s not him.”
Van Straten and Schoenherr could meet again this season, which would most likely have to happen in the state title match since Van Straten is on the top of the bracket and Schoenherr is on the bottom.
Snortum (33-5) didn’t have the easiest draw at sectionals. After pinning Bonduel’s Moises Lagunes in 1:30, Stratford’s Jake Drexler pinned Snortum in 1:58. The senior is the top-ranked wrestler in his weight class.
Snortum had to come back to win his next three matches to move on to state.
“He had to wrestle an extra match or two to get in, so those matches will definitely help him down (in Madison) as well,” Clausen said.
Clausen is looking for bigger things out of Snortum this year at state. He was downed 9-6 in the state preliminaries last year and didn’t get a second match.
“We’re hoping to get past that hurdle this year,” Clausen said.
Johnson and Gunderson both won their quarterfinals matchups at sectionals, but couldn’t win their second match to guarantee a trip to Madison.
“Those were the two that we were hoping to push at least one (to state),” Clausen said. “Both those two kids are probably the hardest workers that I’ve had in a while. They’re the hardest workers out of that group. Not the most talented, but hard workers, biggest hearts.”
Johnson pinned Crivitiz’s John Danielson in 1:45, but was beaten 5-1 by Edgar’s William Raatz, No. 4 ranked in his weight class, in the semifinals. Things didn’t get any easier in the consolation round as No. 5 Jacob Banker of Bonduel won by major decision, 10-1.
Clausen saw a lot of progress from Johnson, who finished his senior season 32-10 after combining to win 17 matches as a freshman and sophomore.
Gunderson (30-6) had a quick match against Elcho’s Jacob Eighmy, earning a pin in 1:40. But he was then pinned by Athen’s Tyson Sommer in 2:37, and lost 4-3 to Coleman’s Brock Martinson.
“He didn’t stick to the game plan as well as I wanted him to, but that’s how it works,” Clausen said.
Hess (20-16) lost his only two matches of the day, getting pinned by Stratford’s Aiden Hoffman (2:19) and Wabeno Area/Laona’s Dylan Houts (3:14).
“He’s going to be an exciting guy to watch next year,” Clausen said. “He’s another one, he’s got his own style. He brawls.”
Reif, ranked No. 11 at 170, was upset by Coleman’s Tyler Blanchard, 4-3, in the opening round.
That was Reif’s only match of the day, finishing 36-7 on the season.
“That was our third guy getting in,” Clausen said. “Billy was wrestling strong, I think. Going into sectionals, he was wrestling strongest out of all of our guys.
“He had a game plan, but he would not take shots. He was kind of playing that game if I keep it close and squeak it out, that’s what I’ll do. We had a lot of opportunities to score points and we just didn’t. We let the Coleman kid hang around and hang around. In the end, he got us.”
Both Flannery and Jahnke had tough draws in their weight classes and lost their only matches.
Stratford’s Max Schwabe downed Flannery (33-9) by a 7-0 decision. Jahnke (27-15) lost to Coleman’s Billy Ganter by major decision, 15-5.
“Jared for a freshman wrestled him well,” Clausen said. “Towards the end, Ganter was tired and Jared was scoring points on him, but obviously it wasn’t enough to make a difference.”
Of the eight wrestlers at sectionals for Shiocton, four will be back next season: Hess, Reif, Flannery and Jahnke.
Levi Snortum and Sammy Van Straten, along with the high school marching band, paraded around the Shiocton school on their send off to Madison for the State Wrestling Tournament. The tournament was held at the Kohl Center, Thursday – Saturday, Feb. 22, 23 and 24. – Photo by Linda Titel
By Greg Bates