Michael Bannach uses the placards that wrestlers receive for winning first place in a tournament as a border along the walls of his bedroom.
At the rate he is winning tournaments, he is going to need a bigger room.
In a heart-racing match with Keenan Graef from West DePere, Bannach earned a 1-0 decision over Graef to not only earn his third straight Little Chute Mustang Invitational title, but helped lead the Wrightstown Tigers to a dominating team championship in the tournament.
With 225 points, the Tigers were far and away the tournament champions, far out distancing the second place and host Little Chute Mustangs (172 points). West DePere (153), DePere (123), and New Holstein (116.5) rounded out the top five. Olympian Conference foe Brillion finished seventh in the 12 team field with 86 points.
Wrightstown put eight wrestlers in the championship matches, with five of those wrestlers taking first place medals. The Tigers were on such a roll that the first three matches of the championship round were won without giving up a point.
“Our kids wrestled well. We had 11 kids in the top three, and our other three guys were real close,” said Wrightstown co-head coach Matt Verbeten. “We came to wrestle and we did what we talked about. “
The championship run for the Tigers started with Dillan Micke. Wrestling at 113 pounds, the senior had stoked himself to an 11-0 lead when he earned a pinfall at 5:23 of the match over Kyle Irmick of DePere. Coming off a 37-10 state qualifying season last year, Micke is off to a 3-0 start in 2013.
Michael Bannach’s match was a nail-biter, with an escape by the senior being the only point scored.
“In neutral, he was really heavy on my head, and I would get under him and try to pancake him, but he was really strong there,” Bannach said. “I really couldn’t get the takedowns that I wanted.”
Bannach becomes the third Tiger wrestler to win three titles at the Mustang Invitational since 2009, joining Jackson Fox (2009-2011) and Alex Maes (2010-2012).
“Michael is solid. Michael works hard and it showed in the match,” Verbeten beamed about Bannach. “When you win 1-0 in the championship, it shows that you are competing at a high level and you are controlling your opponent the whole time.”
Brady Maes continued the family success at the Mustang Invitational. The sophomore also faced an opponent from DePere, and earned the same result as Micke, a pinfall, although Maes earned his a little faster (3:42 of the match). With the victory, he earned the fourth straight Mustang Invitational title for the Maes family. Older brother Alex won three straight from 2010 to 2012.
The surprise of the tournament for the Tigers may have been freshman Bryce Herlache. Wrestling at 152 pounds, Herlache used a takedown late in the third period to give himself his first major tournament title with a 5-2 over Tyler VanLannen from DePere.
“A freshman to win a championship at a quality tournament against a quality kid like he did is outstanding,” Verbeten said. “Bryce has a bright future, and he is just scratching the surface of the potential that he has got.”
Stetson Burmeister continued his strong showing on the season, earning a 5-0 decision over Brandon Loehrke from Weyauwega-Fremont at 170 pounds. The sophomore’s victory was the fourth shutout the Tigers earned in the finals.
Along with the Champions, the Tigers had second place finishes from Ben Klister (143 pounds), Brandon Buechler (160) and AJ Craig (220), and third place finishes from Quentin Propson (132), Josh Verbeten (138) and Mitchell Murphy (182).
“This is an outstanding start-up tournament for us. Little Chute is always tough. West DePere and DePere have improved greatly this year. They got some good kids,” Verbeten said. “There were a couple new teams here this year, so this is a nice tournament for us to get going. We will hit our grinding schedule here coming up, so this is a good tournament to get us ready for that.”