By Ryan Kaczmarski
The Lutheran West Shorthorns youth wrestling program has another state title, as eighth-grader James Handwerk (of St. Mark’s Lutheran, in Brunswick) defeated Marcus Williamson, 3-1, for the 146-pound middle school state championship.
The victory came after a first-round bye, then two pins in the quarterfinals and semifinals, to give Handwerk an overall record of 55-1 for the 2012-2013 season and postseason.
“It’s real exciting,” Shorthorns head coach, and Handwerk’s father, Jon Handwerk said. “It was a blessing that he was able to achieve (this level of success) at such a young age.”
Handwerk started winning state titles in sixth grade, and there was no doubt in his mind that he would finish this year’s tournament as state champion. He is now focused on having a good showing at this year’s national tournament.
“I’ve placed third a few times (at the junior nationals), and last year I was a true second-placer, so I hope I can win (it all) this year,” he said.
The state championship has Lutheran West head coach Dave Ressler anticipating adding Handwerk to his roster this fall as a freshman.
“We’re very excited,” Ressler said. “James is a great student and a great wrestler – a leader on the mat – and he’s going to fit in real well – stepping in right where we graduated someone (in his weight class) – so it’s a big plus for us.”