The 2017-2018 wrestling season was filled with plenty of excitement. Whether it was conference titles, or state tournament appearances, the talent was on full display in the area all season long.
Below is a look at the Herald Journal All-Area Wrestling team.
AUSTIN GABBERT (WATERTOWN-MAYER)
Gabbert was one of the three Watertown-Mayer wrestlers to reach the state tournament. While he was there, he didn’t disappoint. Despite just being a freshman, Gabbert proved he belonged there,
Gabbert took fifth place at the Class AA state meet at 106 for the Royals. On the season, he posted a record of 36-7.
“Austin Gabbert was a guy we could always count on to start the duel meet off with a win,” W-M coach Kurt Becker said. “It’s a big advantage having a stud at 106 to get things started. He also had three individual tourney championships this year. Austin was voted our most improved wrestler this year, going from 11 wins last year to 34 this year.”
ZAC NEATON (WATERTOWN-MAYER)
Neaton was one of several seniors that helped lead the Royals to a Wright County Conference title this season. On the season, Neaton posted an impressive record of 32-6 while banged up all season.
He won the Section 2AA title at 170 to qualify for the state tournament. Neaton wrestled his first match on Friday morning and won, despite having knee surgery just two days earlier.
“Zac Neaton was also one of our stoppers that we could move around a couple different weights to take out another teams’ top wrestler in a duel,” Becker said. “Zac won three individual tourneys, and was voted our tough guy award after he injured his knee in the section tourney and still took first place. Then, he had surgery on that knee on the following Wednesday, and wrestled in the State tourney two days later and still won a match.”
CARTER ENTINGER (WATERTOWN-MAYER)
There was no state tournament trip this season for Entinger, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a successful season for him. Entinger battled for a sixth-place finish at the Section 2AA tournament while battling it out against four state-ranked wrestlers.
Overall, Entinger finished the year with a record of 29-12.
“Carter Entinger is one of our best wrestlers, and also probably had the toughest schedule of opponents of anyone on our team,” Becker said. “Carter was 29-12, and all 12 of the guys he lost to were ranked in the state.”
JORDON PETERSON (WATERTOWN-MAYER)
Peterson was another key wrestler for the Royals who helped them pick up wins at a consistent rate. He finished the season with a 22-11 record, and took sixth place in the Section 2AA tournament at 145.
“Jordon Peterson also wrestled three different weights for us this year in order to help the team,” Becker said. “He won some big matches for us, and was our top leader in the practice room this year.”
Adam Sweeney (Watertown-Mayer)
Like Entinger, Sweeney battled some of the state’s best in the Section 2AA tournament. He ultimately took fifth place overall as he battled three state-ranked wrestlers.
On the season, Sweeney finished with a record of 18-8.
“Adam Sweeney was unfortunately injured much of the second half of the season and that cost him an All-Conference honor,” Becker said. “Adam was a strong leader in the room, and always stepped up in duels to get big wins for the team.”
ELIJAH RIEMER (HLWW)
There’s no doubt that Riemer was the heart and soul of the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted wrestling team this season. The senior posted an impressive 33-10 record, and helped the Lakers reach their goal of reaching the Final Four in Section 4A.
On the season, Riemer was a finalist in three different tournaments, and an All-Conference First Team selection for the Central MN Conference. His goal of back-to-back state tournament appearances came up just short with a third-place finish at 285.
For his career, Riemer finished with 71 career wins, which was enough for 15th overall in program history.
“(He was) twice voted captain by his teammates,” HLWW coach Puncochar said. “(He) didn’t miss a practice the entire year, and finished his last three seasons with a 71-38 record, to post a 90-75 career record. Elijah was a hard worker, and came to practice tired and sick or whatever, because he knew that’s what a leader is supposed to do. He helped us increase our win total from 3 to 8 wins this past season by winning crucial matches at 220, or bumping up to 285.”
COLLIN BOESE (HLWW)
Boese was the lone state qualifier for the Lakers this season, and held his own on the state’s biggest stage against one of the top wrestlers in the state.
He finished the season with a 27-11 record, and was the first seventh-grader in school history to reach the state tournament.
“(He was) voted hardest worker by his teammates, and is second all-time for escapes in a season,” Puncochar said. “(He) led the team in escapes and takedowns. Collin grew rapidly throughout the course of the season. He scored a lot of team points, and actually gave up the least amount of team points this season, despite his 11 losses. He learned to battle through the long winter season while dealing with bumps and bruises all while being a seventh-grader. He was the fourth-seeded wrestler in his section bracket, and went on to beat the No. 1 and No. 3 seeds and claim the section crown.”
MITCHELL MALLAK (HLWW)
While Boese did reach the state tournament, the future is bright for the Lakers with Mallak as well, who is another seventh-grader who stepped up big time this season. Mallak posted a record of 23-9 this season, and won the Chisago Lakes Invite and Minnewaska Invite.
He took third place in sections at 106, as was named to the All-Conference First Team this season, as well.
“We would be talking about Mitchell Mallak if it wasn’t for the shadow cast by Boese,” Puncochar said. “Another talented seventh-grader who had 23 wins, and finished one win shy of the state tournament. Mallak tied for the team lead in pins this season with 13, while being held out three events to comply with MSHSL event count rules. He was a big spark plug for us at the bottom of our line-up that got us off to a fast start in many cases. He competed in two individual tournaments during the regular season, winning both of them. Our coaching staff is very excited about the potential of Mitchell Mallak.”
JOSEPH SCHANUS (HLWW)
Schanus was another member of the team that was named All-Conference for the Lakers this season. With a record of 17-12, Schanus was named All-Conference honorable mention.
In sections, Schanus finished just short of reaching state with a fourth-place finish at 182.
“Joe Schanus is the type of kid you want on your team,” Puncochar said. “He’s a hard worker, a natural leader, and a great teammate. On top of that, he is very gifted. Schanus was voted the Laker Identity Award winner this season because his teammates see him doing the right things all the time. (He) was voted team captain for the 2018-2019 season by his teammates and coaches.”