The first thing West Allis Hale wrestling coach Randy Ferrell wanted people to know after the Huskies claimed at least a share of their second straight Greater Metro Conference title with a 40-25 win over host Menomonee Falls Thursday night was the team philosophy.
"We tell them that intensity and heart will carry you through the toughest of times," he said. "We work the kids hard and we want them to know that the room (the practice area) will be the toughest place that they will have to go through. Everything else will be easier than that."
And Ferrell knows that by living that philosophy and carrying out this important win, the wrestlers were able to bring something important back to the school.
"We don't get to celebrate back-to-back titles in many sports here," he said. "So to repeat like this was a big deal for us."
The Huskies philosophy carried them through in many matches, such as in the case of several rallies that Hale grapplers had to pull out Thursday night.
It started with the Huskies' first win of the evening at 138 pounds, as Josh Petrovich rallied from a 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 victory over the Indians Austin Meyers. Similar rallies were carried out by Maurice Beck at 145 (11-5 decision), Jon Baltz at 106 (9-4 decision) and Trevor Kruzick at 120 (5-3 decision).
And it was Baltz's win over the Indians' Aaron Daly in one of the evening's high-profile matches that provided the Huskies with their clinching points. His win made it 37-19 Hale with just two matches to go.
"He had just earned honorable mention (on the Crossface state rankings), so that was very big for him," said Ferrell of Baltz.
Falls had taken a 19-18 lead courtesy of an impressive pin by Jake Fuiten over the Huskies' Logan Mocco at 170 (4:20) and Ayoola Olapo's 13-4 major decision over Hale's Jordan Plantiko at 182. It was Olapo's 30th win of the season.
But then the Huskies' big guys put on a show, as Andrew Buelow at 195 (pin 2:59); Dallas Wanta at 220 (13-3 major decision) and heavyweight Ryan Vankerkvoorde (pin 3:44) set up Baltz for his clinching decision.
Ferrell pointed to several key efforts including those of Petrovich, Beck, Jake Gruichich at 152 (pin 4:37), Baltz and Kruzick.
"That was a great win for Trevor (Kruzick)," said Ferrell. "He's been with the team (on varsity) for four years and that was just a huge quality win over Jerott (Holz)."
Taylor Tomczak got the other win for Hale at 160 pounds with a pin in 3:06.
For Indian coach Jim McMahon, it was a disappointing showing before a noisy and loud home crowd as Falls was trying to claim a share of its first league title since 2006.
"We lost a lot of the 50/50 matches," he said. "We got outhustled and outmaneuvered in some situations and that hurt. This was a big check mark we had on our list this season and we didn't quite meet expectations."
"We knew that pins and bonus points would count for a lot and a couple of matches that we thought we'd get got away from us."
"But congratulations to them (the Huskies), they took it to us."
Falls had taken a 9-0 lead courtesy of an 11-6 decision by Bill Holz at 126 and a pin in 3:47 by Casey Crangle at 132. The Indians only other victory was Ben Bonesho's forfeit at 113.
The two teams will meet again at the GMC Tournament on Friday, Feb. 1 at Marquette. Hale can either complete a clean sweep of league titles there or the Indians can come back and claim a piece of the crown.
"We're still in good shape," said McMahon. "This group still has a lot of wrestling in it yet."
And so does Ferrell's team.
"The kids were really focused on what we had to do," he said. "We had some very good days of practice and we asked them to lock in on the basics. But this is just a start, we're still looking for some big-time, big-tourney results in the end."
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