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Garrett Joles wins silver in first state wrestling tournament

MADISON — “Everything we threw at him, he stopped!”

Those words by Boyceville head coach Jamie Olson succinctly summed up Garrett Joles’ Division 3 state championship match at 170 pounds.

Joles, just a freshman, lost 18-2 to Edgar senior Devin Lemanski in the title match Saturday evening, February 28 during the 72nd annual WIAA State Wrestling Championships in the Kohl Center.

“Garrett ran into a kid that wrestled a lot like us, almost twins in styles,” Olson said. “We had a senior that was a state champ that was a little bigger and a little stronger.”

“He was really strong,” said Joles of Lemanski, who finished the season a perfect 41-0 and with his second individual state title.

“I got in a couple of positions where I could have capitalized,” said Joles. “I got him out of position but didn’t go my way, he just kind of muscled me out.”

“I don’t know if he was a better wrestler,” added Coach Olson. “But he was more physical and beat us to the punch on some moves.”

“We had him out of position about four or five times but could not capitalize because he was so strong,” Olson stated.

Despite the loss, Joles was jubilant to make the finals and leave with a silver medal.

“I am delight! This is great,” Joles said summing up the experience.

Lemanski scored the first points of the championship on a takedown 18 seconds after the opening whistle. The Edgar wrestler stayed on top of Joles throughout the rest of the first period and added a two-point near fall at the buzzer for a 4-0 lead.

Lemanski continued to rack up points in the second period scoring another two-point near fall.

Joles was able to work a reversal with 41 seconds left in the middle period to cut his opponents lead to 6-2. Unfortunately, those would be the Boyceville freshman’s only points of the match.

Lemanski would return the favor with a reversal and his third, two-point near fall in the final nine seconds of the middle period to up his advantage to 10-2.

Lemanski, starting the final period in the down position, reversed Joles quickly and added three more back points to take a 15-2 lead. The Edgar wrestler then scored a final three-point near fall with 33 seconds remaining to bring a stop to the match with an 18-2 technical fall.

Lemanski won the Division 3, 126-pound state title in 2013 and made it to the 145-pound semifinal a year ago before losing and then defaulting out of the rest of the tournament.

Garrett Joles, who made a big splash in his first two state matches last weekend – winning on a pin and then beating a defending state champion in the semifinals, admitted that he is following in the footsteps of Micah Johnson.

A year after Johnson made the finals and won a state wrestling championship, Joles figured why couldn’t he try and do the same.

Joles qualified for the finals after he scored a thrilling 5-4 win over defending state champion and second-ranked Luke Nowak of Iowa-Grant/Highland at the Kohl Center Friday night, Feb. 27  in the Division 3, 170-pound state semifinals.

Nowak defeated Boyceville’s Bryor Hellmann in last year’s 160-pound championship.

“Micah Johnson really inspired me last year,” said Garrett Joles shortly after his semifinal win. “I thought, I can hang with this kid and go with him in the (wrestling) room. I just thought, ‘If Micah can do it, I can do it as well’ ”.

Joles and Nowak battled to a scoreless draw after one period of wrestling Friday night. But Nowak broke through for a takedown 23 seconds into the second period. Joles would be given an escape and then another to start the third and final period. Those escapes would come back to haunt Nowak.

Tied at two apiece, Joles hit Nowak with a takedown at the 4:30 mark of the match. Nowak came back with a reversal some 40 seconds later to knot the match once again.

But it took Joles less than ten seconds to come up with his third and final escape for a 5-4 advantage. He would make it stand as he turned away several of Nowak’s takedown attempts.

“Someone asked me the other day what is to wrestling me?” Joles recalled. “Working hard for something that you really don’t care about is called stress. You have to love the sport.”

“For me, working for something you love is called passion. And that is what it is all about right now.”

Joles was neither awed by the bright lights and vast space of the Kohl Center nor his opponent in his first-ever match at state wrestling tournament.

Joles stepped on to the mat here inside the Kohl Center early Friday afternoon and performed like a seasoned veteran of the tournament and dominated Coleman senior Alex Stodola throughout the pair’s D3, 170-pound quarterfinals bout for an impressive 10-1 major decision.

It took Joles a mere nine seconds to put the first points of the match on the scoreboard.

That takedown would lead Joles to a three-point near fall as he established a 5-0 advantage that he took into the second period.

His lead grew to 9-1 during the two-minute middle frame. Joles added a two-point near fall and takedown in that time span. Stodola’s lone point of the match – an escape – was sandwiched between Joles’ second-period scores.

Stodola took the upper position in the final period but could not get Joles turned and finally gave the escape with less than a minute left. The Coleman wrestler was looking for an opportunity to take Joles to the mat but the smart and talented Boyceville freshman would have none of it and held Stodola at bay to claim the 10-1 win.

“When you think about what Garrett did down here this weekend, beating a state champion and having to wrestle another state champion,” Olson said.

“Look at his weight class. How many weight classes had two defending state champions in it down here,” continued Olson.

“You talk about an unbelievable performance that he put on, it was similar to what Micah did last year as a freshman and to do it at 170 pounds is incredible,” Olson concluded. “The sky is the limit for this kid.”

Joles finished 31-5 in his first year of varsity wrestling and claimed a state silver medal.

His goal for the next three years are simple, “Be the best I can be and work as hard as I can.”