After a disappointing opening day at the State Wrestling Tournament, when three of Union High School’s eight competitors were ousted from the competition, the Knights found themselves in fourth place in the standings, looking up at teams who had as many as eight wrestlers each still competing.
The Knights opened day one of the traditional tournament with a loss, as Jon Hellman was defeated by eventual state champ, Michael Millage of Crestwood. When Max Thomsen (145), the Holschlag brothers, Derek (113) and Jacob (170), and Trevor McLaughlin (160) reeled off consecutive wins, it looked the Knights would take charge of the 2A tournament. The upper wieght classes proved unkind, however, as Tanner Shirk (182), Jace Hadachek (220) and Michael Ahrendsen (285) each lost their opening matches and were bounced from the tourney later in the day with losses in the consolation bracket.
With the dawn of a new day, though, the remaining Knights flexed their collective muscles and proceeded to make up ground on the field by scoring bonus points via the pin. Union’s returning state champions, Max Thomsen and Jacob Holschlag, continued sticking opponents faster than you could say, “We are Union.” Six matches between them in the first two days of action resulted in six pins and 12 bonus points on the scoreboard. Jon Hellman bounced back with a pin of his own, and banked a total of six valuable team points on his way to placing seventh at 106 lbs.
On Friday, a brutal draw ended Trevor McLaughlin’s tournament sooner than he wanted, dropping consecutive decisions to wrestlers with a combined record of 86-1.
Meanwhile, sophomore Derek Holschlag continued his impressive run through the tournament to with a series of decision wins on his way to a second place finish. Midway through the championship match, Union fans were incensed when action was stopped by the referee, just as it appeared Holschlag had secured a takedown. Instead, the match ended at a 1-1 tie and a quick takedown in overtime ended Holschlag’s state title hopes.
Unlike the path to victory in Team Duals, where contributions from every member of the team helped Union secure a championship, early tournament losses meant the team’s hopes rested primarily on the shoulders of Thomsen and the Holschlag brothers. They very nearly pulled it off, accounting for 77 of the team’s 89 points, which was good enough for a second place tie with Creston, just three points behind eventual champion Mediapolis.