Twin peaks: wrestling gold for Muskego
It's first time Warriors have two titlists in same season
Muskego — Muskego - Muskego's 189-pound state wrestling champion Roland Dunlap didn't have much time to celebrate his crown at the Kohl Center in Madison last Saturday, immediately following his 10-2 finals victory over Arrowhead's Shane Hughes.
That's because teammate, fellow state champion and, most importantly, "the best training partner in the world" Jordan Gruettner was already up on the mat at 215, completing an unbeaten season with a dominant 13-4 championship decision over West Bend West's Steve Sizer.
So after doing a little celebratory shimmy, much to the delight of the crowd, and hugging his coaches, Dunlap hied his way into the stands back behind where the Muskego coaching staff was sitting to watch Gruettner's match.
A bit of history for duo
But not before attending to one very important matter first.
"My thoughts were a little scattered (immediately following the match), I admit," he said, "and it was hard to sit still (watching Gruettner), but I did the first thing that I thought of. I went up and hugged my Mom."
That's the same person who has been driving him the 20-25 minutes it takes each morning to get from East Troy to Muskego after Dunlap decided to enroll at Muskego when he was still in grade school. His family were neighbors in East Troy with Muskego co-coach Ted Price and they also liked the academic programs at Muskego.
Especially his favorite class: history.
And so it's no small matter that he and Gruettner have now made history themselves.
They are the seventh and eighth state champions, respectively, for the Muskego program and the first dual titlists ever in a single year for the team. Gruettner is also the first underclassmen ever to win the 215-pound class in its nine-year history.
And because of the pair's unique back-to-back positioning in the team line-up, they have now injected themselves into the same kind of unstoppable training partner/state champion conversations that are normally reserved for the likes of Wisconsin Rapids' legendary brothers T.D. and Rocky Biegel.
In 1988, that pair won the 189 and heavyweight classes, respectively (there was no 215-pound class at that time), by each posting 40-0 records.
The interesting thing for both Gruettner and Dunlap, though, is that they can do the Biegel brothers one better, as the two juniors have the potential for doing this twin title thing again next year.
But first, they'll have to figure out who'll get the upper hand in the training room next season, as Gruettner, who also refers to Dunlap as the "best training partner in the world," relates.
"We don't have a set routine in practice, we like to switch it up and keep it fresh," said Gruettner, who was a NOW Newspapers football all-purpose selection last fall. "He's quicker so he can defend my shots easier and I'm stronger so I can block him a little better."
"It gets a little intense at times, but it just makes us who we are. It's the nature of the sport. It's physical."
"They feed off each other," said Warriors' co-coach Ted Price. "It's no surprise that they're both champions."
Gruettner did admit to an extra bit of adrenaline flowing through his veins after watching Dunlap's victory.
"I knew that if he won that I would have to dig down deep and really pick up the pace," said Gruettner. "…but this was something we talked about doing this all season: Training partner champions. Now that we've done it, it's really pretty cool."
And though Gruettner and Dunlap are like brothers on the mat, it was actually real family blood that Gruettner himself was thinking about. He's the youngest and the biggest of three wrestling brothers - with Jason (171 pounds) and Jerred (160) - and he dedicated the title to Jason, who's aspiring to become a firefighter.
"He was with me every step of the way, every match this season," Jordan Gruettner said. "We're very close. He qualified for state himself, but didn't quite achieve all the goals he wanted to."
The title pair was part of a spectacular weekend for the Warriors, who also got a fourth out of 2010 state finalist Justin Scherkenbach at 125 and a fifth from Tyler Quartullo at 135.
"In fact, we were a little greedy," said Price. "After we got four into the semifinals, we were thinking three finalists."
For good reason, because this year is just a buildup after last year, when Scherkenbach (112) and Gruettner (189) each took second and Dunlap was third at 171.
Though Dunlap had lost to Hughes in the powerhouse Cheesehead Tournament in Kaukauna over the holiday break, he still felt he could beat him, given victories over the Warhawk senior in two previous matches this season. Hughes had earned a state finals' shot with a surprising come-from-behind pin over top-ranked Devin Peterson of Wisconsin Rapids.
"When I went out there, I knew I could take him down anytime I wanted to," said Dunlap (42-3).
Which he did, getting four takedowns and allowing only two harmless escapes.
Gruettner (40-0), who had come into his finals match top-ranked in the state and a heavy favorite, had beaten Sizer before this season and controlled this match right from the beginning, getting waist-high shots repeatedly on the West Bend senior.
Like Dunlap, he was never seriously threatened at all.
As opposed to his more excitable teammate just moments before, Gruettner took a low-key approach to his celebration afterwards with simple handshakes and backslaps.
"I didn't want to showboat or anything like that," he said. "Just get the match done and get out. …What Roland did though (the shimmy) was great. He's a goof sometimes (laughs)."
Price and Fortmann saw the titles as something historic for the program, but wanted to keep the focus on the athletes themselves.
"We really pointed to this weekend from the beginning of the year," said Fortmann, "as one where we could do some special things and we did."
"It was big time," said Price, "but we don't want to get caught up thinking too much about what this means to the program. We just want to congratulate the kids who worked hard and achieved their goals."
Roads to glory
DUNLAP: Shondell Stiff, Milwaukee Riverside (18-5 major decision); Jake Reuteler, New Berlin (21-5 technical fall); Justin Birschbach, Fond du Lac (22-11 major decision); and Shane Hughes, Arrowhead (10-2 major decision).
GRUETTNER: Michael Gamboa, Sauk Prairie (pin 1:16); Noah Lassa, Merrill (pin 2:26); Tyler Lecher, Brookfield East (pin 3:53); Steve Sizer, West Bend West (13-4 major decision).
OTHER WARRIOR EFFORTS: 103, freshman Austin Quartullo (1-2 for the tournament, no place, 38-10 final record); 125, junior Justin Scherkenbach (3-2, fourth place, 46-5); 135, senior Tyler Quartullo (3-2, fifth place ,44-8).
OTHER MUSKEGO STATE CHAMPIONS: 1963, Ken Haacke (180 pounds); 1969, Dale Spies (128); 1975, Glenn Spies (132); 1978, Tom Schilling (145); 2000, Paul Schlottke (171); and 2006, Riley Kreuzer (140).
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