Junior Cade Willis wrestles away with a win during a tournament held earlier this season. Cade Willis finished first in the Highlander Invite hosted by Homestead High School on Jan. 24 (Michael Stefanich Jr./Southern Lakes Newspapers).

Junior wrestler ‘fired up’

By Jason Arndt

Union Grove junior wrestler Cade Willis said his win against Delavan-Darien on Jan. 23 fired up his intensity entering the Highlander Invite at Homestead High School the following day.

Cade Willis, top-ranked in Division 1 at 132 pounds by Wisconsin Wrestling Online, certainly showed his intensity as he finished first in the 27-team tournament.

The junior wrestler rattled off five straight wins, starting with a first round pin of Cudahy’s Chris Dondajeski (5-12) at 1:27 followed by back-to-back major decisions, which moved him to the semifinal match. Cade Willis defeated Burlington’s Austin Skrundz on a technical fall and advanced him to the title bout with Kimberly’s Karsen Otis.

Cade Willis, who pinned the Papermaker at 1:46, jumped to 32-1 on the season.

He felt the positive vibe a day earlier when he pinned Delavan-Darien’s Jacob Dutton in 1:42.

“(The Jan. 23) kind of got me fired up, getting me prepared for (Friday) in the tournament,” he said. “It was kind of like a kick start.”

Union Grove, meanwhile, placed seventh as a team with 261.5 total points.

Burlington won the meet with 431.5 points, more than 100 points ahead of second place Germantown, which produced 325.5.

Neenah placed third with 308.5 points.

Individually, the Broncos had two wrestlers finish among the top five in their respective weight classes, including senior Connor Esch at 285 pounds.

Esch (24-11) opened with three consecutive pin fall victories before losing the semifinal match. In the battle for third place, Esch lost to Neenah’s Bryce Fochs (20-8) on a pin, which put him in fourth.

Meanwhile, at 182, junior Gavin Hood (14-11) took fifth, winning his first match with a pin. He then lost to Kimberly’s Dejondre Williams on a pin at 1:36 in the quarterfinal match, but bounced back with a 12-1 major decision over Dylan Cleveland (11-6) of Muskego. Hood won the fifth place match by pinning Logan Woodard from Waukesha West at 1:08.

The Broncos wrestled without Cade’s brother, Cooper at 120, because of illness.

Sophomore Cooper Willis, ranked second in Division 1, also missed the Broncos’ Jan. 23 dual meet against visiting Delavan-Darien.

Union Grove 48, Delavan-Darien 26
The Broncos defeated Delavan-Darien 48-26 in a Jan. 23 Southern Lakes Conference dual meet behind six pin victories and two decisions.

Union Grove improved to 5-1 in league dual meets and received pins from Cade Willis, senior Dylan Scacco (160), sophomore Gianni Scacco (170), Hood (195), junior Trae Ford (220) and Esch (285).

“Overall, our whole team has wrestled well the last couple of dual meets,” said Union Grove coach Andy Weis.

Weis acknowledged his team would come through in the middle to upper weight classes.

“I knew there were some opportunities for us to score team points from about 152, 160 all the way through heavyweight,” he said.

Cade Willis, coming off his first loss of the season Jan. 18, went back to business by defeating Jacob Dutton on a pin fall at 1:42.

“He is one of the top kids in the state and he wrestled well (Jan. 23),” Weis said. “He is doing well and having a great season and is not done yet.”

Weis, meanwhile, credited senior Thomas Cook at 126 for his 11-4 decision against Jacob Greidnaus.

Jacob Greidnaus previously defeated Cook in the Mid-States tournament at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater during winter break.

“He lost to him at Mid-States earlier on the year just over Christmas break and he went out there and he controlled the match and got a victory,” he said.

Thomas Beaupre, at 182, was the other wrestler who garnered a win by decision.

“Everybody is putting in the time and effort, everybody is working hard and we are all coming together and know we are good team,” Cade Willis said after the match.