The Verona wrestling team crowned three champions and finished second at the Mount Horeb Invitational on Saturday, Dec. 18.

The Wildcats got championships from seniors Cael Wozniak at 182 pounds, Adam Murphy (220) and Jay Hanson at heavyweight. Verona had a trio of grapplers miss the invitational for non-COVID-19 reasons.

“I think if everybody would have been healthy we could have probably won it,” Verona coach Bob Wozniak said.

Verona was coming off a thrilling 40-36 Big Eight Conference dual meet win over Janesville Craig on Tuesday, Dec. 14, in Verona.

Atticus Marse had a pin in the final match against Craig to help the Wildcats upset the Cougars. Janesville Craig was the preseason pick to win the Big Eight title.

“We have been telling our kids all year that this is our year to win the conference,” Wozniak said. “It was a huge win for our program. I don’t think we have ever beaten Janesville Craig since we joined the Big Eight Conference.”

Mount Horeb Invite

Hanson remained unbeaten and posted three pins en route to winning the title at heavyweight.

Hanson (16-0), ranked fifth in Division 1 by the Wisconsin Wrestling Online state poll, pinned Merill’s Kieran Hehling in the first round in 1 minute, 34 seconds. He then beat Mount Horeb’s Garrett Waefler in a fall in 2:37. In the championship match, Hanson pinned Pecatonica/Argyle’s Burke Gustafson in 1:02.

“Jay has been working really hard and has put in a lot of time,” Wozniak said. “Jay’s been really dominant this year.”

The other champions for the Wildcats were Cael Wozniak (182) and Murphy (220). Both the Verona grapplers went 3-0 after first-round byes. Wozniak (13-3) pinned Pecatonica-Argyle’s Tayte Hirsch in 55 seconds in a second-round match. He then beat Poynette’s Dylan Elsing in a fall in 3:02. In the title match, Wozniak defeated Brodhead-Juda’s Cole Hoesly 14-7.

Cael Wozniak is 4-3 against wrestlers ranked in the top-12 in the state this season.

“He’s faced some very good competition this year,” Bob Wozniak said of his son.

Cael Wozniak trailed after Hoesly scored on a takedown in the first period. Cael Wozniak responded with a reversal to tie the match at 2 at the end of the first period.

“He took over the match in the second period and it was a big match for him to win,” Bob Wozniak said.

Murphy improved to 12-4 this season. He opened the invitational by pinning Pecatonica/Argyle’s Levi Paust in 1:10. In a semifinal match, he knocked off Mount Horeb’s Toby Maier in a fall in 4:57. Murphy then pulled off a 13-2 major decision win over Dodgeville’s Sean Jones in the title match.

Both Verona’s Bryson Kundinger (138) and Jimmy Shields (195) finished third place in their weight classes. Both Tayvion Howard (106) and freshman Brett Burrs (152) took fifth place.

“He’s a good athlete and it’s great to see him step up and score points for the team,” Wozniak said of Burrs.

After a first-round bye, Kundinger pinned Pecatonica/Argyle’s Sammy Nelson in 3:23. He lost to Brodhead/Juda’s Marcus McIntyre by a fall. Kundinger rebounded to pin Whitewater’s Cooper Hammond in 1:12 in a third-place match. Shields went 3-2 to take third. After a first-round bye, Shields won a third-place match when Payton Lyon dropped out because of an injury.

Howard (106) pinned Dodgeville’s Blaek Foust in 2:22 in a fifth-place match. Burrs (152) clipped Madison West’s Leonardo Ruggiero 3-2 in an ultimate overtime tiebreaker.

Verona 40, Janesville Craig 36

The Wildcats had five pins to edge Janesville Craig in a Big Eight clash Dec. 14.

Marse (170) pinned Janesville Craig’s Matthew Lear in 24 seconds to clinch the victory for Verona. Janesville Craig was the preseason pick to win the Big Eight title.

It was a battle of Verona’s strength in the upper weight classes against Craig’s dominance in the lower weight classes.

Wozniak said a couple of wrestlers were bumped up weight classes because he liked the matchups.

The dual meet started at 182 and the Wildcats dominated the upper weight classes winning six of the seven matches. Cael Wozniak (195) pinned Craig’s Kyle Pringle in 1:21. At 220, Murphy pinned the Cougars’ Nick Gregg in 1:59. Hanson pinned George Greene in 1:20. Senior Logan Neuroth (152) beat Craig’s Dominick Albrecht in a fall in 34 seconds.

Verona’s Nolan Witkowski (160) pulled off a 14-3 major decision over Andrew Craddick. The Cougars won matches at 120, 126, 132, 138. Craig forfeited at 113. At 145, Verona’s Michael Scharenbroch lost a nail-biter to Craig’s Tobias Spieth 4-2.

The Cougars had four starting wrestlers miss the meet because of illness.

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