Badger High School’s Kyle Freund wrestles in the 285-pound weight class at the Badger State Invitational, held Dec. 28 and 29 at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Freund took second in his class at the meet. (Bob Mischka photo)

By Michael S. Hoey


Three Lake Geneva Badger wrestlers made it to the finals at the Badger State Invitational on Dec. 22. Josh and Jake Stritesky and Kyle Freund all made it to the championship round but none of them were able to bring home a title.

Assistant Coach Hank Peters said all three wrestled very well just to get to the finals. He said Josh Stritesky, who lost by pin in the finals, had a very tough match in his 106-pound championship round against Cale Anderson of Viroqua, a wrestler who was much stronger and is the top-ranked Division 2 wrestler in the state. Stritesky used his length and height to his advantage and that played a role in his being able to fend off attacks and score points.

“He is a wrestler who has the awareness of match situations to know when to fight hard and dig deep and when to stay calm and be comfortable in certain situations,” Peters said of Stritesky.

Stritesky finished second and scored 26 team points. He defeated Macoy Fitzgerald of Fennimore by pin, Joey Showalter of Elkhorn by 6-0 decision, and Parker Heintz of Lodi by pin to get to the finals.

Jake Stritesky finished second at 126 pounds and scoring 28 points, losing to Cian Fischer of Weyauwega Fremont by 8-3 decision in the finals. Stritesky pinned Lucas Mendella of Brookfield East, Daniel Driessen of Hartford, and Mason Lull of Fennimore along the way to the finals.

Peters said Jake Stritesky got caught in a position during his quarterfinals match that put him down 7-0 after one period but he had enough determination to fight back and get the pin in the third period.

“Jake is a smart wrestler and very competitive,” Peters said. “He has a will to wrestle and to win.”

Peters said Stritesky was able to push himself outside of his comfort zone to come back the quarterfinal match for the win, something a lot of other wrestlers would not have been able to do. Unfortunately, Stritesky faced the current No. 1-ranked Division 3 wrestler in the finals and came up a little short. Peters said Stritesky had several chances to take the lead during the match but was never able to do so. A critical stalling call against him also made Stritesky feel like he had to take what turned out to be a bad shot at Fischer.

“It was a good learning experience for Jake,” Peters said.

Freund finished second at 285 pounds, scoring 24 points, after falling to John Champe of Brookfield East in the finals in a fourth-overtime tiebreaker. Freund defeated Josh Layton of St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy by 2-0 decision and Tony Hohol of Stoughton to reach the finals.

Champe was the seventh ranked heavyweight wrestler in Division 1. Peters said Freund battled hard, wrestled smart, and opened a lot of eyes by almost taking Champe down. Peters said Freund has an incredible work ethic and wears his opponents down. He had never been in a situation like the finals match against Champe, so Peters said having that experience will be a great motivator for the future.

Patrick Keplar had the highest finish for Badger other than the three seconds. Keplar finished sixth and scored 14 points at 195 pounds. Keplar defeated Steven Lazaris of Hartford by pin, lost by pin to Marshall Kools of Neenah, pinned Daniel Ford of Waunakee, and was pinned by Logan Klaas of Fennimore.


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