Wrightstown's Alex Maes wrestles against Oconto Falls' Dewey Krueger during the WIAA Division 2 state wrestling championship match in the 132-pound weight class Saturday in Madison.
Here's a real quick memo to the International Olympic Committee concerning the possible exclusion of wrestling from the 2020 Summer Olympic Games: GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER!
If there was one thing that was supremely evident at the WIAA state wrestling tournament at the Kohl Center in Madison the past few days, it was that the sport of wrestling is as popular as ever. And it's almost mind-boggling to think that this sport, which has so many athletes at so many levels from youth to adult, could be non-existent in the Olympics by the end of the decade.
While at the Kohl Center on Saturday, I was able to catch up with Larry Marchionda, the former Fond du Lac wrestling coach, member of the Wisconsin and USA Wrestling Hall of Fame as well as current owner of World Class Wrestling Enterprises Inc.
As you might expect, he was clearly upset with the IOC's recent decision to pull wrestling and place it among seven other sports that will be vying for one spot on the list of events at the 2020 Olympics.
"Disbelief, that was my immediate response," Marchionda said. "I didn't think it could happen. But I also have a lot of international friends. We do international exchanges in Bulgaria and Japan and all over the world. We've had a lot of kids from the Valley head to Japan, Bulgaria and Germany. (The IOC's decision) really set off a world rampage among the wrestling people.
"There's so much pressure now on the IOC, I would be surprised if it's upheld."
As the champions were crowned throughout the evening on Saturday, it was clear that while athletes in other sports such as baseball, basketball, football and soccer have professional organizations in which to aspire to play for, wrestling does not.
The Olympics, Marchionda said, is the highest achievement for a young wrestler.
"These kids that are high school state champions, they want to go to college and be an NCAA champion and All-American," he said. "But the ultimate dream is a gold medal and to take that away from the millions of kids on the planet, not just Wisconsin, is really a crime against humanity."
Freedom coach Justin Lancaster had three of his wrestlers reach the championship level on Saturday. Freedom is also home to Garrett Lowney, the 2000 bronze medalist on the U.S. Olympic team in Sydney.
"There's a lot of young men and women out there that are missing the opportunities for their dreams to come true," Lancaster said. "I don't want to take anything away from any other programs that are there, but my personal opinion is to take something away that was at the start of the Olympics - a sport that teaches toughness, hard work and the ability to overcome adversity - that's a big deal to take that away."
Marchionda and Lancaster were true gentlemen and did not want to ridicule the IOC's decision by comparing the value of wrestling to other sports.
I won't be that kind. To even put some of these almost cartoonish sports on the same level as wrestling is incomprehensible. And you know which sports I'm talking about. That's right, I'm looking right at you rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized swimming and trampoline jumping.
We can only hope that the IOC sees the error of its ways in the coming months, when a decision will be made to have wrestling on the 2020 Summer Olympics events list.
WIAA state basketball: Wednesday, 7 p.m. We'll have two athletes from one of the remaining area teams still alive in the WIAA boys' basketball tournament to talk about the upcoming sectionals at postcrescent.com.
Brandon Elrick, Little Chute wrestling: Thursday's edition in print and online. Brandon talks about his second-place finish at the WIAA Division 2 state wrestling tournament in the 285-pound class, while also sharing his thoughts on wrestling, football and the entertainment world.
THINGS I LIKED FROM THIS PAST WEEK
Congratulations to our nine area wrestlers who reached the championship level on Saturday at the WIAA state wrestling meet. That list includes Kaukauna's Robert Lee (120) in Division 1 and Silas Petrie (285) of Brillion in Division 3. Division 2 finalists included Freedom's trio of Cody Walrath (120), Andrew Philibeck (145) and Reed Ambrosius (220), Chilton/Hilbert's duo of Mitch Fucile (152) and Austin Hephner (195), Little Chute's Brandon Elrick (285) and Wrightstown's Alex Maes (132). ... How about the great week the Appleton East boys' basketball team had this past week. The Patriots shocked Appleton North in a Division 1 regional semifinal before dropping a 37-35 decision to heavy favorite Oshkosh North in the regional final on Saturday. Great showing by coach John Mielke and the boys this season. ... Congrats to Seymour boys' basketball coach Jon Murphy for picking up his 500th career win in the Thunder's 62-61 victory over Plymouth in a WIAA Division 2 regional final. There are few programs with the sustained success that the Thunder have had and Murphy is the biggest reason why. ... Everybody likes to talk about Little Chute, Brillion and Xavier in that area Division 3 boys' basketball sectional, but don't forget about Wrightstown. Those Tigers have a great frontcourt, led by Cole Van Schyndel, and could surprise this week in sectional play. ... I picked the Shiocton boys' basketball team to reach state this March and the Chiefs are two wins away. Oh, by the way, nice three-quarters court shot there Patrick Brouillard. Hope somebody has that up on YouTube. ... Kudos to the New London girls' basketball team for finishing 22-0 in the regular season. The good news? A few more wins and you ladies get to head up to the Resch Center to compete for a third straight title in Division 2. The bad news? You get to go up to the Resch Center to compete for a third straight title in Division 2.
TWEETS OF THE WEEK
"I don't know what I'm going to do when I go to college and crave El Azteca #addicted." - Neenah girls' basketball player Brooke Hiltunen, @brookehiltunen
"Turned on the Daytona 500 during a commercial and sure enough, they are still driving in a circle." - Kaukauna boys' basketball player Jon VandeWettering, @JonnyVW4
- Ricardo Arguello: 920-993-1000, ext. 558, or firstname.lastname@example.org; On Twitter @PCRicardo