Coleman Wrestlers Going for Gold on March 3
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 The Coleman-Crivitz Journal

Coleman Wrestlers Going for Gold on March 3

March 2, 2012
Mason Mergener (on left in green) and the Coleman Cougars wrestling team are Headed to team state in Madison, Wis. on March 3 to vy for the Gold. (Photo by Jody Korch,
Mason Mergener (on left in green) and the Coleman Cougars wrestling team are Headed to team state in Madison, Wis. on March 3 to vy for the Gold. (Photo by Jody Korch,
After bringing home one individual wrestling state champion and three runner-ups from Madison last weekend, the Coleman Cougars will be gunning for the gold on Saturday (March 3.

Here is a reprint of an excellent article posted on written by Jody Korch, sports editor of the Marinette EagleHerald in Marinette, Wis.

They're back for more gold
Cougars head back to state with historic mission

EagleHerald sports editor

COLEMAN - Every so often - maybe once in a generation - a special group of athletes elevates a high school sports program. Coleman has had two of those groups in the past three years.

Saturday, eight seniors will lead the Coleman wrestling team in search of a third consecutive Division 3 title.

Coleman is primed to add its ninth straight title, including five state crowns in the 1960s.

The seniors have followed a blueprint which was drawn up by legendary Coleman coach Jim Douglas, whose teams won three straight state team titles in the 1960s. They also followed the example that was set two years ago by an extraordinary senior group which included, among others, Darek Behnke, Cody Baker, Myles Magee, Troy Stillings, Mitch Kuchta, Jerit Zeitler and Jordan Zeitler.

The sophomores that season helped win the program's first state title in 10 years. The seniors paved the way.

"We've been blessed to have had hard workers ahead of us," Cougar senior 160-pounder Mike Mergener said. "They (the 2010 seniors) always worked hard in practice. If they saw someone slack off they'd tell him Without any slackers, you're bound to be good."

Coleman 152-pound senior Jake Engels had Magee as his wrestling partner in practice. Magee taught him how not to get sloppy with his wrestling stance.

"Oh, they taught us a lot about leadership, too," Engels said. "They're definitely a big part of our success."

As good as the class of 2010 was, this class may be even better. The Cougars have been ranked No. 1 in the state all season and are heavy favorites to win the WIAA State Team Tournanment, to be held at the historic UW Fieldhouse in Madison Saturday. In the 1 p.m. semifinals, Coleman will wrestle Iowa-Grant and Spring Valley/Elmwood will wrestle Random Lake. The title match will start at 6.

The Cougars hauled home nine medals from last weekend's Individual State Tourney. They're good but humble.

"They're not gonna just hand it to us," Coleman 145-pounder Mitch Champagne said. "We worked for it and we deserve it. I believe we can win it. It would say a lot about the team and what type of people we have on it."

Senior 182-pounder Lucas Markiewicz is seeking a little family one-upsmanship. His brother, Matt, wrestled on Coleman's 2000 state title team.

"I could say I won three," he said.

Since the team format began in 1992, no school has won three straight state titles in any division. Previously, teams that scored the most points during the individual state tourney were declared team champs.

Five of the state championship trophies come under the direction of Douglas (1960, 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1966).

"He basically put Coleman on the mat," Champagne said. "Our coaching staff is amazing, and it's all because of Jim Douglas."

Coleman's seniors are writing their own legacy.
"If we can go down as the class that had the other three-peat it would be pretty awesome," senior 220-pounder Kollin Long said.

"We're just gonna pretty much go out there and do what we always do," said senior 120-pounder Justin Grzybowski.

This is a group that was one play away from the football state semifinals in each of the past two years, and advanced to the state semifinals in baseball last spring.

"We're all in the same sports," Long said. "We're all close friends - just extremely comfortable with each other."

That means swimming and golfing together in the summertime, bowling during wrestling season.

"Basically what it comes down to is anything we can compete in against each other we do," Long said.

"We just like to have fun," Grzybowski said. "We all get along."

To senior 132-pounder Mitch Mergener, there's not one oddball in the group.

"We all push each other in the wrestling room," he said. "It's always been that way in every sport. None of us party. We know how to have fun without alcohol, and that's what keeps us in shape."

Mitch Mergener, who was primarily a jayvee wrestler until his junior season, is one shy of 100 varsity wins. An ankle injury sustained Saturday at state won't stop him.

"I'll be ready to go," he said.

The ultra-competitiveness is no more evident than in the wrestling room.

"It's like a state tournament every day," Markiewicz said of the team's practices. "If one person gives up a takedown, you know next time they're gonna go all out. We don't like losing to each other."

Senior 170-pounder Jordyn Schaal travels from Gillett to be a part of Coleman's storied wrestling program.

"I had the opportunity to go to Oconto Falls or here," Schaal said. "I just wanted to be a part of something special. Here we are three years later, going back to team state," he said.

By Schaal's sophomore year, he fit right in with his classmates.

"We just push each other every day," Schaal said. "They never back down against anybody. They're leaders - each and every one of them. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."

The Cougars experienced ups and downs at state last weekend. That was just a prelude to this weekend.

"It means everything," Mike Mergener said. "They say wrestling's all individuals, but it's really not."

Not to Engels, either.

"I love team state," he said. "That's bigger than any individual title you could get. It would be a shame if we didn't get the job done".
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