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WAUSAU — Sometimes it is not how you start that matters most but how you face adversity and choose to finish.
Tyler Dormanen could have been satisfied with just competing in his first state wrestling tournament especially after losing his first match here last Saturday. Thankfully, he was not.
The Boyceville junior, instead, refocused and committed to giving his best effort and the results were amazing.
After that initial loss in the quarterfinals, Dormanen, ranked fifth heading into state, reeled off three straight victories including a pair of back-to-back major decisions against higher ranked opponents to claim third place and the bronze medal at 160 pounds in the 2021 WIAA Division 3 Individual State Wrestling championships held February 13 at Wausau East High School.
“We started out not where we wanted with Tyler,” said his head coach Jamie Olson of Dormanen’s 6-2 quarterfinal loss to Southern Door senior Grant Englebert to open this year’s one-day state tournament.
“Nerves got to him a little bit but Englebert was tough,” noted Olson. “He countered everything we threw at him and beat us to the punch in positions we thought we could score in and didn’t.”
Undaunted by the loss, Dormanen came back with a vengeance, a young wrestler on a mission.
He dominated his next two opponents, beating fourth-ranked Dylan Teunissen, a senior from Cedar Grove-Belgium, 12-4 in the consolation semifinals before pummeling second-ranked sophomore Ryan Roy of Wabeno/Laona 17-7 in the consolation finals to earn a shot at third place.
That momentum carried into the bronze-medal bout which Dorman won 9 to 6 over freshman David Malin, the weight class’s seventh-ranked wrestler from La Crosse Aquinas who had also lost to Englebert in the semifinals.
“But for him (Tyler) to come storming back the way he did, holy cow,” stated Olson. “Three wins against three solid kids. Tyler beat a kid (Roy) 17-7 who majored the Englebert kid in the sectional who Tyler lost to.”
In his state debut, Dormanen was never able to really go on the offensive against Grant Englebert (17-3) who wound up finishing second after losing 18-7 in the finals to top-ranked and now two-time state champion Aiden Vandenbush, a 21-0 senior from Random Lake.
The first period of the quarterfinal between Dormanen and Englebert nearly finished in a scoreless tie but the Southern Door wrestler scored a takedown with just 15 seconds left in that opening frame for a 2-0 advantage. The middle period did pass without a score. Choosing the down position to begin the third period, Englebert worked a reversal to open a four-point lead but was then called for back-to-back infractions – a slam and a second stall warning – that awarded Dormanen a point on each occasion and halved his deficit to 4-2. Englebert, however, secured the win when he turned Dormanen late in the match for two back points and went on to win 6-2.
“We had to regroup a bit mentally,” Olson admitted.
“His goal was to be on the podium and after that everything was a bonus and he kept rolling,” added Olson.
With the goal firmly in sight, Dormanen took to the offensive in his next three matches.
After a tentative start in his next tussle, a consolation semifinal contest in which he trailed 2-0 after one period to Dylan Teunissen (13-4) of Cedar Grove-Belgium, Dormanen suddenly roared to life in the second period. In that middle two minutes of wrestling, he scored a reversal and consecutive near falls for three and two points to overtake Teunissen 7 to 2. Dormanen extended his advantage to 12-2 in the third frame with a takedown and another three near fall points. The Cedar Grove-Belgium senior did score a late reversal to close the gap slightly to 12-4 but Dormanen held on to win his first state match by the same score.
In the consolation finals, Dormanen was paired against talented Wabeno/Laona sophomore Ryan Roy, who had beaten Cadott’s Nelson Wahl in the quarterfinals before succumbing to a pinfall against Vandenbush in the semis.
Dormanen jumped into the lead with a takedown and three back points for a 5-0 lead after one period. When Roy (17-3) worked free for his first point in the second period and then added a takedown that made it a two-point match, Dormanen responded with a reversal and a pair of near fall points to extend his advantage to seven at 9-3.
Then in the third period, Dormanen (who was on the bottom to start the two-minute frame) and Roy exchanged reversals to move the score to 11-5. Roy gave an escape in hopes of executing takedown and more as time grew short, instead it was Dormanen that got the takedown and more, a two-point near fall that pushed his lead to 16-5. Roy worked one last reversal but Dormanen eventually freed himself to account for the 17-7 final tally as the horn sounded.
That second win propelled Dormanen into a third-place battle against Aquinas’ David Malin. The pair fought to a scoreless deadlock after the first period. Dormanen scored the match’s first points on a reversal midway through the second period and added a three-point near fall for a 5-0 lead. Malin reversed Dormanen for his first points and then scored two back points to make trail by just a single point as the middle frame ended. Dormanen however, was able to stretch his lead back to five points with a reversal some 20 second into the final period and added the insurance of a two-point near fall and a 9-4 advantage. Although Malin scored reversal to get to within three points, Dormanen held on to take the 9-6 win and the state bronze.
“After a tough loss he responded,” stated Olson. “And I am proud of him for that. He is tough, he is gritty. He found himself in some tough positions in some of those matches but found a way to score points.”
“I thought he was capable of being in that top three, top two,” added Olson of his 160-pound junior. “And he showed today that he is right there. Watch out for him next year!”
Although Olson says that he cannot really take credit for Dormanen’s emergence this season, that the coach says, is a testament to his practice partner Trett Joles, who claimed his third consecutive state title about an half hour later.
“This year Trett took Tyler under his wing and really spent most of his year just getting Tyler to where he is at,” said Olson.
“Coach Day and I can’t take a lot of credit for Tyler Dormanen, it’s Trett Joles who coached him all year,” he added.
“He was his practice partner, Trett coached him,” said Olson of the Joles-Dormanen relationship.
“And he did a phenomenal job and that’s the type of kid that Trett is. He kind of stepped back to be Tyler’s guy. The bond they shared together this year was pretty special and you can see it today, here, how it all came together,” Olson concluded.
Dormanen finished this COVID-abbreviated season with a 17-3 record and a thirst to build on this year’s state experience!