Cameron sophomore Tanner Gerber will be one of just 20 former state champions to take part in the 77th annual WIAA Individual State Wrestling Tournament this week in Madison.
Gerber is part of that select group after yet another superb weekend of wrestling led to a 113-pound championship Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Div. 3 Edgar Sectional.
Gerber, who is now 45-1 on his sophomore season, won the 106-pound, Div. 3 state title last year.
Unlike last season, when he finished second at the local sectional and then faced the state’s top-ranked wrestler in the state finals, Gerber will have a target on his back at the 2020 state meet. He enters the three-day tournament as the state’s top-ranked Div. 3, 113-pound grappler.
Gerber’s sectional title gives him a bye through Thursday night’s (Feb. 27) preliminary round at Madison’s Kohl Center. He’ll wrestle a quarterfinal match at approximately 11:15 a.m. Friday against Jayden Glasbrenner of Fennimore (34-10) or Tanner Birenbaum of Random Lake (26-12).
At Edger, Gerber used a second round pin, a clean 5-0 victory and then an impressive technical fall to win his first sectional title. His first match was a 2:28 pin of Wyatt Graceffa of Chequamegon (5-17).
“Tanner’s second opponent was the sixth-ranked wrestler in the state, Karter Stuttgen of Stratford (23-5),” said Cameron coach David Geber said. “Tanner won 5-0 to advance to the finals. Although the score was somewhat close, Tanner controlled the match and never came close to giving up any points.
“Many of Tanner’s opponents try to slow down the action, with the hope of keeping the score close and maybe finding a way to score points at the end.”
For the sectional title, Gerber faced a familiar foe in Clear Lake’s Dominic Leintz (42-3), who was ranked fourth in the state. Gerber was more than impressive while recording a 21-6 technical fall.
A week prior, Gerber beat Leintz 18-5 to earn a regional title.
“Tanner wrestled really well throughout the tournament,” his father/coach said. “His constant pressure on opponents causes them to get out of position and gives Tanner a lot of scoring opportunities. He was able to take advantage of all those opportunities.”
Cameron had two other wrestlers qualify for the sectional tournament but fail to move on, 120-pound senior Remington Ladd and 138-pound sophomore Tommy Quinn.
“Remington’s high school wrestling career unfortunately came to an end Saturday,” coach Gerber said. “Remington placed fourth in the sectional and just missed going to state, as only the top three qualify for state.”
Ladd’s day started with a 12-7 loss to Josiah Berg of Boyceville (34-4). When Berg advanced to the finals – where he later one – Ladd received another chance to wrestle.
“Remington wrestled really well in the next match, defeating Kaleb Sonnentag of Cadott (33-12) 7-0,” the coach said. “Remington’s opponent in the match to move into third place was Derick Vollendorf of Ladysmith (35-10), who Remington beat last year in the match to go to state, 8-2.
“This year, Vollendorf came out on top 7-5. Remington was leading 5-2 with about a minute left in the match. He was in deep on a takedown but ended up losing his balance a little and landed on his back, giving up the takedown and three back points to fall behind 7-5.
“He fought hard to get off his back and just about had a reversal to tie the match in the closing seconds. It was a difficult loss. To be that close to going to state but then to have a career end is a lot of emotions to go through in a short time.”
The senior, who accumulated a 35-12 record this season, left his mark on Cameron wrestling.
“Remington ended a spectacular career,” Gerber said. “He won 117 matches as a four-year varsity wrestler. He wrestled in the state tournament and won an individual conference championship. He will be missed next year. It will be difficult to replace his wins and also his leadership.”
Quinn also lost his first match on Saturday, falling in 3:17 to Ira Bialzik of Boyceville (25-18). Quinn’s day ended when Bialzik was pinned in the next round.
Bialzik eventually qualified for state with a third place finish, while Quinn’s season ended with a 27-15 record.
“Tommy is only a sophomore,” Gerber said. “He will be back next year and have a good opportunity to get to state.”