Sokolski, Banker and Giese lead Bears at Oconto Falls

Menominee Indian’s Hernandez, Peters and Wayka all take second

Greg Bates Leader correspondent

Bonduel’s Max Sokolski, Isaac Banker and Jacob Giese all won their respective weight classes as Bonduel nabbed second place at the 10-team Brawl in the Falls Invitational at Oconto Falls High School on Saturday.

It had been a full year since Sokolski faced off on the mat against Florence’s Tristen Mascarette. In that match, Sokolski was defeated handily by technical fall.

“It motivated me a lot,” Sokolski said. “I knew I had to put in a lot of work in the offseason, so that’s what I did.”

The two wrestlers squared off again Saturday, and Sokolski had revenge on his mind. It wasn’t just any match — it was for the 126-pound title.

Sokolski trailed the entire match before tying it at 7-7. Then, with about 30 seconds remaining in the third period, Sokolski scored a takedown. He could sense that victory was within reach.

“I dug deep,” said Sokolski, who is an honorable mention in Division 3 at 126 pounds in the rankings. “Like coach always says, ‘When you’re tired, you have to dig down and find your mental toughness.’”

Sokolski held on for dear life to earn a 9-8 decision over the No. 9-ranked Mascarette. First place, and more importantly avenging last season’s loss, was a sweet reward.

Banker, who went 4-0 on the day at 195 pounds, got a tech fall 19-3 victory in a de facto title match at 195 pounds, beating Menominee Indian’s Darius Wayka.

Giese had one of the most impressive performances at the tournament. He beat all four of his opponents on first-period pins in the 220 weight class. His longest match of the day was just 1:14.

Oconto Falls (305.5) won its own tournament, followed by Bonduel (245.5), New London (234.5), Menominee Indian (161) and Luxemburg-Casco (94.5).

“That was something we wanted to accomplish today, coming in here and taking either first or second,” Bonduel coach Chris Rank said. “We were hoping to come out on top, but we thought second was attainable. It seems like it was a little closer than we would have liked, but we’ll take it.”

Bonduel’s Jayson Toellner (120) cruised to the championship match with three pins and a major decision. He nearly went home with a title, falling to Oconto Falls’ Collin Schindel, 3-2.

Kaden Bergsbaken (170) also notched a second-place finish for the Bears, losing just once on the day.

Gavin Bougie (106), Luis Lagunes (113), Moises Lagunes (152) and Tristan Tomashek (160) each came in third for the Bears.

Rank is hoping his guys continue their strong wrestling with an important and busy stretch coming up.

“This was a good tournament for us to be at today. Everybody seemed to wrestle well and got some wins,” Rank said. “We’ve got a big match Thursday with a big rival in Wittenberg. We’re hosting it, but we want to be wrestling at a high note. So hopefully these guys got some confidence today.”

Menominee Indian had three wrestlers have shots for titles, but all three had to settle for second place. Alfred Hernandez (132), Leone Peters (182) and Wayka were each just one victory shy of a perfect tournament.

Peters went 4-1 on the day, and Wayka finished 3-1.

Hernandez had a first-round bye followed by three pins to get to the championship match against New London’s Lucas Gerrits. Hernandez struggled in the bottom position and was pinned in 1:28, but he was pleased to take second place.

“It really means a lot,” he said. “It’s my last varsity year since I’m a senior; I’ve got to really finish out strong. We’ve got a lot of season ahead of us — really hope to make it to sectionals this year.”

The runner-up place is Hernandez’s best finish in the four years he’s competed in the Brawl in the Falls.

“It really shows that I’ve been improving throughout the years, and senior year especially is when you go out with a bang,” Hernandez said.

Morgun Fish (145), Glen Miller (195) and Hunter Connahvichnah (285) all placed third for the Eagles.