Marko and Gaffey win respective weight divisions
When and where: Feb. 13 at Wausau.
Outcomes: St. Croix Falls earned third place as a team at the D-3 individual wrestling tournament held in Wausau. Mineral Point claimed the team title with 87.5 points with Stratford and St. Croix Falls a close second and third with 68 and 64 points respectively.
Comments: “Like I’ve mentioned before, the WIAA state tournament is our focus and goal in the SCF wrestling program so last weekend is an accumulation of 365 days of preparation,” St. Croix Falls Coach Joe Raygor began. “I’m beyond proud of how the wrestlers competed and carried themselves last weekend. Sometimes it’s easy to take for granted their success and it needs to be reminded how much blood, sweat, and tears go into reaching these milestones.”
Individually: “Mason Will battled and showed some grit in his third-place finish,” Raygor said “His ultimate goal was to be a State champion so he’s not going to be satisfied with third, which will motivate him to train harder than ever before. He lost to the State champion 3-2 in a nail biter and then went on to wrestle back to third place. On the backside he beat three wrestlers ranked above him and showed he belonged in that top tier talent. Mason has a blue-collar mentality that is infectious to younger wrestlers in the program.
“Bennett Bergmann finishes his career as a 3-time state qualifier and last weekend he added a fifth place State finish at 182 pounds to his resume,” Raygor said. “Normally wrestlers get a reputation of having to lose weight to compete at the highest level. Bennett actually grew from 152 pounds last season to 182 pounds this season. Being able to go up that much weight and succeed is a testament to his work ethic and wrestling skills. Bennett has had many huge wins for SCF Wrestling in his career and I’m very proud of his achievements but more proud of the man he’s become.
“Kole Marko captured his third State title showing amazing composure and wrestling skills in doing so, “Raygor noted. “Each year his skills have improved as well as his ability to deal with the pressure that comes along with being as talented as he is. Kole had his most difficult match in the tournament in the State semi-finals against a worthy opponent, Aiden Brosinski. It was one of those matches where nothing went our way, but he continued to battle and scrap, and took the lead with 30 seconds left. His ability to handle the adversity and push through is the reason he’s so special. In the State finals Kole controlled the match from the beginning and set a great offensive pace.
“Tanner Gaffey finished his career as a 4-time State qualifier, 3-time State place winner and a two-time undefeated State champ,” Raygor said. “Tanner’s ability to only wrestle in positions that he wants to be is his secret to success. His entire State tournament run he never left his position and showed control in every match. Tanner graduates out of the wrestling program as an all-time great and a role model for younger kids to look up to. If Covid had not significantly altered our schedule this season, Tanner would have surpassed the all-time wins record of 167 easily by ten or more wins. The Sports Center analytics teams can decide where Tanner falls in the all-time category but in my mind, he’s the best SCF wrestler to ever put on the singlet. However, he can only enjoy that honor for one year because then Kole Marko graduates from high school.”
Highlights: “Kole Marko won his third straight WIAA individual State title which has never been done in SCF history,” Raygor said. “Tanner Gaffey won his second straight State title and becomes the third wrestler in SCF History to win two State titles. Tanner also went undefeated his junior and senior seasons, which has only been done once before.”
Upcoming: “Now that the season is over our number one priority is getting stronger,” Raygor said. “Wrestling skills can be significantly altered in short amounts of time but getting stronger takes months and years to see significant gains. The work done in the spring and summer will show on the mats next year.”