Top Photo Row I (LtoR) Don Reichert, John Arnott, Kurt Weyers, Mike Fleming, Todd VanRyen, Craig LaFevre,Tom Laiter, Joe Clevenger, Gerry Postl, Brad Booth
Top Photo Row II (LtoR) L Smith, Coach Tom Freude, Art Moritz, Tom Henkel, Brian Burroughs, Brad Bishop, Bob Garrou, Randy White, Jeff Ducommun, Tim Kenney, Joe VonSchrader, Coach Bob Skubal, Missy Boyens.
As many athletic supporters know, this was not the first conference dual meet or conference tournament title for Tomahawk in wrestling but it was, in this author’s opinion, the season that the program crossed a mental barrier helping the wrestlers to achieve heights they only dreamed about in the past. This season helped establish total dominance of the Lumberjack Conference for the remainder of the decade and into the 1990’s. Because of the conference success, athletes came to believe that they could defeat anyone they faced in the conference and that the second best athlete at each weight class was in the Tomahawk wrestling room. Junior varsity wrestlers were patiently waiting for their turn at the varsity level. The conference was filled with many talented programs, and Tomahawk knew it must cross that mental barrier if they wanted to separate themselves from the remainder of the talent.
The coaches involved were Tom Freude, Bob Skubal, & Joe Farmer. Members of the program were Tim Kenney, John Arnott, Kurt Weyers, Brad Booth, Scott Burroughs, Randy White, Bill Kleich, Jeff Renn, Ron Renn, Tony Buches, Randy Carstensen, Mike Fleming, Todd VanRyen, Craig LaFevre, Art Moritz, Brad Bishop, Jeff Ducommun, Mark VonSchrader, Todd Halverson, Brian Burroughs, Josh Leggett, Tom Laiter, Joe Clevenger, Gerry Postl, Tom Henkel, Bob Garrou, Joe VonSchrader, Joe Yustus, Dave Westerhouse, Ken Durray, & John VanNorman.
The varsity produced a 9-3-1 record and was ranked honorable mention while the JV’s were 10-3. The season produced several challenges but none that could not be handled when belief in self took place.
The season started out with two straight losses of 33-24 to Antigo and 32-25 to Rhinelander. Both of these Divison 1 schools had solid wrestling programs and provided non-conference competition that was great preparation once the conference schedule began. Next was the Hatchet Triple Dual in which Tomahawk defeated Stratford 36-24 and Three Lakes 66-6 before losing 28-24 to state ranked Athens. Tomahawk then dominated the Rosholt Invite and non-conference foes Mosinee 33-21 and Edgar 37-25 before edging Flambeau by one point to win the Hodag Invite and get some payback on Rhinelander.
Conference competition started out with a 23-23 tie with Lakeland. In order to achieve the tie, Tomahawk forfeited the 185 lb. weight class and moved Tom Henkel up to heavyweight where he earned a 9-2 decision. Too many close matches with the T-Birds meant that Tomahawk had not crossed that mental barrier that they needed to cross for dominance. A win of 50-14 over Phillips, 51-12 non-conference win over Wittenberg-Birnamwood, and 41-9 over Ashland set up a conference showdown with unbeaten and defending conference tournament champion Park Falls. The dual match went back and forth and with two weight classes left, Park Falls held a 22-16 advantage. At 185 lbs. Scott Burroughs came out on top of a hard fought 13-10 match and set the table once again for heavyweight Tom Henkel. Tom and Phil Schmidt were tied 2-2 after the first period before Tom earned the reversal and, for what seemed like an eternity, secured the pin in 3:26 of the second period in a standing room only Park Falls’ gym. Not many people know that Tom had stepped on glass in the locker room floor two days prior to the competition and had to see three doctors before one would sign the permission slip to let him wrestle with 20 plus stitches in his foot. More and more mental toughness was seen.
Once again Tomahawk had defeated Park Falls in their dual match but could they complete the sweep with a conference tournament title? The coaching staff took the necessary steps to make sure that the team did not fall flat like the season before. By the time that the conference tournament was over, Tomahawk had scored 140.5 points while second place Park Falls had 127.5 points. All Conference Athletes were 1st Team-Gerry Postl, John Arnott, Kurt Weyers, Brad Bishop, & Tom Henkel, 2nd Team-Todd VanRyen & Tim Kenney, and Honorable Mention-Scott Burroughs. Talk about taking a huge mental step. Even when Tim Kenney was upset in the finals 9-8 by Woody Lisner of Lakeland, the team never felt that they could not win the conference tournament. Conference dominance was now taking place.
Regional action would see Park Falls put up a fight, but Tomahawk came out on top for their second straight regional crown as the Hatchets sent five athletes to sectional action where they placed sixth as a team.
The season was concluded at state with Tim Kenney becoming Tomahawk’s first state champion, helping Tomahawk to a ninth place finish in Division 2. Concluding honors would include Tim Kenney as Lumberjack Conference Wrestler of the Year and Tom Freude as Lumberjack Conference Coach of the Year. While learning to develop strong mental toughness the program had established a TRADITION!