Coleman Wrestlers Claim 13 All Conference SpotsIssue Date: March 25, 2020
It should come as no surprise that the Division 3 state champion Coleman Cougars dominated the M&O all-conference wrestling team in 2019-20.
The Cougars put 13 wrestlers on the first team, taking up all but four spots. It might have been a full 14, but Coleman didn't have anyone in the 132-pound weight class at the time of the conference championship.
Coleman was led by state champion Karson Casper, who was named the conference's most outstanding wrestler.
"Karson had an awesome year. You can't ask for anything better than him ending up being a state champion," coach Kevin Casper, his dad, said, noting that Casper gets up at 5 a.m. every day to get a workout in before school and puts in a lot of time outside of regular practice.
"All of those things probably paid off in the end, especially going into the overtime in the state final," coach Casper said. "He has great technique, works hard at it and it was nice to see a Casper finally got on the state champion board."
Three Coleman freshmen made the all-conference team: Will Bieber, Ray LeMieux and John Nowak.
"They all had great seasons," coach Casper said.
LeMieux and Nowak split time in the lower weight classes, from 106 to 120. Nowak ended up at 120 to end the year.
"Just a great kid that will always give you 110 percent all the time, so I'm very proud of what he accomplished this year," Casper said.
LeMieux made it to individual state as a freshman and got two wins at team state against other individual state qualifiers.
"That just tells you the kind of kid he is and the ability he has," Casper said. "He had a successful year. He's hard to wrestle. He's tall, he's lanky and definitely one of those that's just a gamer. He will come at you for six minutes, full-tilt and you love guys like that."
Bieber ended the season over 40 wins and gave the team two wins at team state as well, including a pin to start the semifinal match.
"He just had a super year as a freshman and another one of those kids that you just like the tenacity of all those freshmen, they don't back down from anybody," Casper said.
Making the all-conference team as sophomores in addition to Karson Casper were Chance Gruber, Cole Klimek and Brody Zahn.
Gruber cut down to 113 and made state for a second straight year. Once he cut to 113, he saw more success, coach Casper said.
"He had a very good season making it back to state," Casper said. "He's a very good wrestler."
Klimek finished the year at the 170-pound weight class. Casper said he loves the way Klimek wrestles, saying "he never backs down from anybody."
Zahn wrestled at 220 this season. He didn't make individual state, but "he's a very hard worker," Casper said, meaning he'll undoubtedly be gunning for a spot in Madison next year.
"He's got a bright future ahead of him," Casper said. "He's got to work on his technique a little more but he'll get better and he did a great job and basically was one place away from making it to state this year."
Jakob Horton, Spencer Karban and Tyler Blanchard were the Coleman juniors to make the all-conference team.
Horton was also a win away from state this season. With another year, Casper said, "I expect great things from him."
After 40 wins on the year as well, Blanchard's season ended early after a shoulder injury at sectionals. If not for the injury, he looked like a lock for the podium at individual state and surely would have made an impact at team state.
"Just a kid that is a fantastic wrestler and it's a shame that he wasn't able to wrestle at individual state, because he very well could have been at the top of the podium," Casper said. "I guess the good news is he has another year in him and he'll see that success next year."
Casper said Karban improved a lot from last year, ultimately taking fifth at state.
"He beat a lot of really good heavyweights throughout the year," Casper said. "I think next year if we keep seeing the improvement he's made, he could hopefully get his name on the state championship board as well."
Last but not least, Coleman had three seniors: John Bieber, Sam Kuchta and Shamus McLain.
Sam made state as well after missing his junior season due to an ACL injury.
"To see what he did this year is pretty incredible," Casper said, noting Kuchta's sixth-place finish at individual state and his win in the state finals over a two-time state qualifier. "I couldn't be more proud of what Sam accomplished."
Bieber and McLain were two standouts on the team, despite having a lot of good wrestlers. Bieber took third at individual state and McLain, a four-time individual qualifier, took second. Each of them won a pair of matches at team state as well.
On Bieber, Casper said, "you'd love to have a team full of Jonny Biebers - great attitude, hard worker, great leadership. I'm proud of what he accomplished this year."
McLain came up just short of a state championship as a senior after a loss to a two-time state champion in the final, but that doesn't take any of the shine off his illustrious career.
"He has nothing to hang his head about because he's a four-time state qualifier and a two-time state placewinner," Casper said. "Throughout the year, he was a pinning machine. He just came up with huge pins - at state he had two pins. Great kid."
Aside from the Cougars, Lena sophomore Cody Dellise and state-qualifying freshman Luke Misco made the first team, as did Crivitz senior Jaden Bemis and Gillett/Suring senior Michael VanDenElzen.
Misco, the son of head coach Chad Misco, was the third freshman in Lena history to make it to state. He finished with 32 wins on the year at 106 lbs. While Dellise, who coach Misco said "had a solid season", was a sectional qualifier at 160 lbs. in his sophomore season.
Bemis had an outstanding season for the Wolverines qualifying for the state tournament at 285 lbs. and finishing with 32 wins on the season.
Making honorable mention were Crivitz senior Tony Jopek, Oneida senior Evan Danforth, Lena freshman Sam Marquardt and Gillett/Suring freshman Keegan Rattin.
After starting his first high school season off 0-6, Marquardt ended the season as a sectional qualifier, so he could be another wrestler poised to make a jump next year.
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