MADISON – Carson Strong and Jacob Nadeau each had a singular goal in mind for this, their final season of high school wrestling – a state championship!
A dream that the Glenwood City senior duo had relentlessly worked toward for years.
“They were in for morning workouts four mornings a week and their practice intensity was outstanding this year,” said Glenwood City head wrestling coach Shane Strong and the father of Carson.
“They both wrestled together in Colorado this past summer and Jake attended the JRob camp to improve as (an) individual,” continued Coach Strong.
[emember_protected] So, naturally, when the final result was not gold for either of the hard-working and dedicated grapplers following the conclusion of last weekend’s state championships, there were tears, disappointment and pain.
First-time state participant Carson Strong, following a tough quarterfinal’s loss to a three-time defending state champion on Friday, rebounded to win three straight matches the following day and the bronze medal in the Division 3, 126-pound weight class at the 2018 WIAA State Individual State Wrestling Tournament, which marked it’s Sapphire Jubilee or 75th year, held this past Thursday, February 22 through Saturday, February 24 at UW-Madison’s Kohl Center.
Unfortunately, the third time was not the charm Jacob Nadeau was hoping it would be.
The three-time state qualifier and now two-time medalist, won his opening quarterfinal match at 120 pounds but Nadeau lost his next three state bouts including a heartbreaking two-point decision in Friday night’s semifinals to finish sixth. He placed fourth in the same weight class a year ago.
“Their losses really hurt them, that’s a good thing,” stated Coach Strong. “It would not hurt if you didn’t have all of that work invested into your goal. Sometimes kids do not feel that pain of loss in athletics and in every case it was because they didn’t invest what it takes to be a champion.”
“These guys invested with practice, weight room, cardio training, proper nutrition and discipline. Losing that goal hurts, but they can be proud of the effort they put into the process. They can carry that with them the rest of their lives.”
Junior Bryce Fayerweather, the final member of this year’s Hilltopper state tournament trio, made an all too brief debut in Madison.
Fayerweather was pinned in the first period of his Division 3, 285-pound preliminary match Thursday evening on the Kohl Center mats which eliminated him from the state meet competition.
Unlike Fayerweather, both Strong and Nadeau received preliminary round byes as incoming sectional champions and did not have to wrestle until the quarterfinals on Friday.
Carson Strong had arguably one of the toughest opening round matches facing three-time defending state champion A.J. Schoenfuss, a 45-5 senior from Stratford, in a 126-pound quarterfinal match Friday noon.
Schoenfuss, ranked first for much of the season until he was beaten in the sectional final Feb. 17 by Bonduel senior Jordan Boldt who not only took over the top ranking but went on to spoil Schoenfuss’ bid for a fourth state title by winning a 4-3 decision in an Ultimate Tie-Breaker in Saturday night’s state championship.
Strong, ranked third behind both Boldt and Schoenfuss, battled the Stratford wrestler to a scoreless deadlock through the first period of action. Strong nearly had a takedown on the edge of the circle but the referee ruled the GC wrestler had stepped out.
“He tried to hip toss him when Schoenfuss was pushing into him, and he hit it, it was the right call, Carson’s foot was out of bounds but that could have been a difference maker too,” said Coach Shane Strong.
In the second period, Schoenfuss chose to go down to start the period. With just 19 second elapsed from the clock, the Stratford senior scored a reversal on Strong and in short order added a pin to defeat the GC grappler with just five seconds left on the period clock.
“He (Carson) was confident,” said his Father. “He felt like he could beat him.”
“We put a lot of film time in on the kid (A.J. Schoenfuss), but just couldn’t finish, Carson couldn’t get in on his shots because the kid is just that good,” added Coach Strong.
“Then when Carson came to his stand up, he had his head too close to his knee and, boom, you’re in a cradle. And when you’re in a cradle, its hard to get out.”
“You know, it was zero-zero going into that second period when Carson got locked in that cradle. But you can’t make those mistakes against great wrestlers. But he bounced back and I am proud of that,” stated the head coach.
Carson Strong, rebounded in the consolation semifinals later Friday afternoon with an impressive 55-second pinfall of Crandon junior Jakob Hoyt to pick up his 100th career victory and qualify for Saturday’s consolation finals and a shot at third place.
Facing Fennimore sophomore Aiden Nutter, Strong trailed 2-0 after the first period of the 126-pound consolation final.
With Nutter taking the down position to start the second period, Strong worked the Fennimore wrestler on to his back to earn two near fall points to knot the contest at two.
Nutter worked an escape to lead 3-2 after two.
Strong chose the down position to begin the final period of regulation time with Nutter opting to give the GC senior the escape and point before the third frame started to tie the bout at three.
Both wrestlers probed the other’s defensive with little success until Strong broke through for the takedown with 28 seconds left on the clock and held Nutter down as the final seconds ticked off on his 5-3 victory.
Within an hour, Carson Strong was facing fellow senior Caden Calabrese of Kenosha Christian Life.
Just two seconds into the match, Calabrese took Strong to the mat for a 2-0 advantage. The Topper wrestler broke free 10 seconds later only to have Calabrese take him down a second time for a 4-1 lead.
But Strong drew back to even with an escape and his own takedown, making it four all heading into the second period.
In the second period, Strong took his first lead and would never relinquished it.
Starting with a quick escape that gave him a 5-4 lead, Strong stretched his lead to three points, 7-4, after taking Calabrese to the mat with 45 ticks left in the middle stanza. The Christian Life wrestler cut his deficit to two after working loose near the end of the period.
Looking for a point or more, Calabrese chose to go down for the third and final period. Strong was equal to the task, keeping control of his opponent over the course of the final two minutes to preserve a 7-5 win and claim the bronze medal.
“A lot of kids when they lose that first match in the quarterfinals they could have at that point just packed it up and he didn’t,” Shane Strong said of his son. “He beat three very good kids in a row to take third place and showed a lot of character, so I just told him that I was proud of him like any dad would.”
Carson, who missed his entire freshman season with a knee injury, finished with a record of 102-18 which included a 34-4 senior season mark.
Jacob Nadeau’s third consecutive state tournament appearance started off well.
The Toppers’ senior scored an early takedown and led Cain Fischer, a Weyauwega-Fremont junior, 2-1 after the first period of their Division 3, 120-pound quarterfinal’s tussle.
Nadeau brought the match to an end just 27 ticks into the middle period, pinning Fischer to earn a berth in the semifinals.
But dreams of gold were dashed in the Friday night’s semifinal round.
Nadeau, who entered the tourney ranked second, lost a 6-4 decisions to fourth-rated Cian Fischer (45-4), a junior from Weyauwega-Fremont.
Fischer scored a takedown late in the opening period for a 2-0 advantage.
Nadeau, who took the down position to start the middle frame, scored a reversal to knot the match.
But in the third, Fischer scored another takedown and two near fall points to lead 6-2. Nadeau scored a reversal but could not close the gap any further.
“Jake was confident and felt he could win this tournament,” stated Coach Strong. “He had a mind set that he could win every match in this tournament.”
“The semi-final loss was very tough on him emotionally,” noted the coach. “His goal was to win a state championship, something he has worked for his entire life. It really hurt him, but I don’t feel it was the reason he fell short in his other matches.”
Still with an opportunity to qualify for his second straight third-place match, Nadeau took on Javyn Freeman of Phillips in Saturday’s consolation final for that opportunity to wrestle for the bronze.
The pair had battled in previous Saturday’s sectional final in Osceola with Nadeau prevailing 3-1.
This was another tight fight for much of the match.
Freeman took the 2-0 lead on a late, first-period takedown. Nadeau, who started the second period down, came back to tie it with a reversal but Freeman quickly escaped to regain the advantage 3-2. Then with 30 seconds left in that period, Nadeau scored a takedown to go ahead 4-3.
It remained that way until 36 into the final period when Freeman reversed Nadeau to lead 5-4. Nadeau escaped to tie the match but was then caught, cradled and pinned with 54 seconds left in the match.
Nadeau came back an hour later to wrestle his final match for fifth place in the D3, 120-pound weight class.
Nadeau and Kewaunee freshman Jack Severin held one another scoreless for nearly two periods before the Glenwood City senior scored a reversal with 19 seconds left in the middle period to take a 2-0 lead.
Nadeau kept Severin at bay for much of the final two minutes of action but then, with five seconds remaining, the Kewaunee wrestler scored a takedown and a pair of near fall points for the 4-2 victory.
It was a bittersweet ending to a terrific career that saw Nadeau finish with 118 wins and 48 losses including a 29-8 senior campaign.
“Jake was in the lead in both of his final two matches,” noted Strong. “He just got out of position for a second, which cannot happen when you are wrestling kids at the state tournament.”
“Things didn’t work out the way Jake would have liked, but his effort and attitude were outstanding.”
As were those of first-time state competitor Bryce Fayerweather despite an elimination loss in the prelims.
Fayerweather, Glenwood City’s junior heavyweight, was not able to make it out of the first period. He was pinned by Athens’ Tyson Sommer at 1:59 of the 285-pound preliminary match Thursday night.
“Bryce had a great attitude coming into this tournament,” said Strong. “As a coach you can sense if a kid is just satisfied or if he has the drive to keep winning. I felt Bryce was focused and believed he could win.”
“He has come a long way with only a couple years of wrestling under his belt. Much of the credit for Bryce’s improvement goes to John Thatcher as a workout partner and coach to him.”
“Bryce has always been open to coaching and gives great effort to improve. He is driven to win a state title next year as a senior. He understands that the works starts now and not in November. I believe he will be committed to reach his goals next year,” concluded the Toppers’ coach. [/emember_protected]