Hodag wrestlers keep the hammer in a nail biter
The annual meet for the Hammer in honor of Tom Handrick took place this year in Minocqua at the Lakeland High School.
The Hodags were intent on keeping the Hammer but the meet did not start out in their favor. Rhinelander forfeited the first match at 126 pounds and then lost by pins at 132, 138 and 145 pounds. Cayden Neri was the first to score by picking up a win by going all three periods, putting three points on the board for the Hodags, now down 24-3. Rhinelander would lose another match at 160, to be down 27-3, before things would change.
Dominic Ratliff earned a forfeit win at 170 and with no T-Bird wrestlers at the 170-pound weight, coach Ellenbecker tweaked the line up and move people around. Walker Hartman went up to 182 and pinned his opponent in 40 seconds; Connor Lund moved to 195 and won an 11-5 decision; Trevor Knapp stayed at 220 and pinned his opponent while Ben Sinclair moved to 285 from his usual 195 and earned a pin in 39 seconds.
Now with three matches remaining the Hodags needed two wins to take the match. At 106 pounds, Tanner Schmidt was pinned in the first period which put the Hodags behind 30-33. Junior Tim Fox, at 113 pounds, defeated Ben Nemcek in a three-period match 10-0 for a slim 34-33 lead.
The last match would decide the winner of the match and the Hammer. Hugh Wiese would be the last wrestler for the Hodags and would not disappoint. He pinned his Lakeland opponent in the first period for the 40-33 conference win. Photos and recap by Bob Mainhardt.