Manchester Wrestling Takes First at Todd Stern Blackhawk Invitational

By: Seth Kinker,

The Manchester Flying Dutchmen Wrestling team won the Todd Stern Blackhawk Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 26, out placing 22 other teams at Leslie high school.

12 Dutchmen wrestlers traveled to the tournament and every single one placed. 

Junior Drew Gebhardt (119), junior Jacob Shelby (130), and junior Colin McCaffrey (171) all took first in their weight classes. Gebhardt also moved to within one win from 100 career wins while Shelby downed a wrestler who took third in states last year. 

Freshman Jared Bunn (103, 2nd), senior Grant Tungate (135, 4th), senior Josh Bunn (140, 4th), junior Jacob Kurgin (145, 3rd), senior Max Wagner (152, 6th), junior Nick Phillips (160, 3rd), junior Derek Guenther (189, 5th), junior Travis Withrow (215, 3rd) and junior Simon Lato (Heavyweight, 5th) rounded out the placings for the Dutchmen. Tungate recorded his 100thcareer win on Saturday as well. 

Colin McCaffrey with head coach Steve Vlcek after winning the 171 weight class at the Blackhawk Invite on Jan. 26. Courtesy Sarah McCaffrey

On Tuesday, Jan. 29, the Dutchmen will travel to Vandercook Lake for a rescheduled meet from a snow day on Jan. 23. They’ll take on Vandercook Lake and Napoleon in their last two conference matches before postseason play begins on Feb. 7 with team districts at East Jackson. 

Heading into the postseason, Manchester head coach Steve Vlcek is happy with how his team is wrestling but wants them to be stronger mentally.

“They need to have their minds in the right places,” said Vlcek on Jan. 27. “I think we lost a couple of matches just from a mental aspect Saturday we shouldn’t have lost at this point in the season.”

“They’ve been wrestling solid all year,” added Vlcek  of his team. “(One key is) baving them healthy and happy going into districts with the right mindset, team and individual, which has been strong all year. I think we just need to keep working at it and carry the right attitude into it.” 

Vlcek also noted that despite strong showings all year there hasn’t been a complete team tournament yet, something he wants to see the team do as the post season approaches. 

“Each tournament we’ve been at it’s been someone different,” said Vlcek.  “Each time there’s a different kid either placing the highest they’ve placed or beating kids that are seeded ahead of them, that’s the good thing about it. We haven’t really hit our peak with the whole team going, hopefully we find that in the next couple of weeks.”

Manchester finished in first with 207 .5, Leslie (A) (152), Climax-Scotts Martin (124), Napoleon (111) and Lansing Eastern (106.5) rounded out the top five.

With the conference title decided on half the points coming from dual meets and half from tournaments, the Dutchmen can move into a good position for their 11thconsecutive conference title with two wins on Tuesday, Jan. 29. 

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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