The well-known bobblehead out in the trophy case alongside the Germantown gym probably tipped its head spontaneously in approval when no one was looking following the Warhawks' 49-30 North Shore dual meet win over rival Homestead on Thursday night.
But probably just a little bit, as because everyone in the area wrestling community knows, now retired coaching legend Barry Bernstein made his way across the North Shore leaving success in his wake, starting first at Whitefish Bay, then with a long tenure at Germantown (his formal employer) and then finishing up a fine stint at Homestead last season.
He and his lovely wife Nancee are now retired and living in Colorado, where Bernstein is no doubt helping bears to wrestle (laughs).
The bobblehead, which is the property of current Germantown coach and Bernstein protege' Casey Gabrielson, is probably a bit too skinny and Homestead wrestling coach Ernie Millard, who is a long-time friend of Bernstein's and who admits to having a copy of that very same bobble on his desk, offered this question:
'What I don't understand is why it does it have so much hair?"
Both Bernstein and Millard are, shalll we say, folically-challenged.
Anyway, Bernstein would have appreciated the fine, intense wrestling that went on Thursday night, as the Warhawks won the battle for second-place in the NSC dual meet standings. Germantown finished at 6-1 and Homestead at 5-2.
And Bernstein, who always had an affection for the big guys, would have greatly appreciated the powerful display that Germantown put on in the 182, 195, 220 and 285-pound weight classes that went a long ways towards clinching the match.
The Warhawks' Steve Asmondy, Mike Knippen, Hunter Higginbotham and Joe Zizzo, respectively, all recorded pins in those matches to take the score from 12-10 Homestead to 34-12 Germantown. The Warhawks were never seriously challenged after that point.
Most impressive were the victories by team leader Mike Knippen at 195 over the Highlanders' highly-regarded Antoine Easterling (in 4:42) and Hunter Higginbotham's stick in 4:24 of the equally well-though-of Mensah Amuzu at 220.
"It was just good competition to have," said Knippen, who just started wrestling his freshman year. "It's a great win to have right before the conference meet (a week from Saturday). This year has been a nice surprise (31-5 record). I just kept working out and I came in this year with a renewed focus. I just spent my time in the weightroom in the off-season and got stronger and stronger."
"He's put in the time and has really become our leader this year," said Gabrielson. "He's taken a lot on his shoulders and has held up well."
The Highlanders, who were coming off a sound 37-27 win over Whitefish Bay the night before, were a bit disappointed with the showing.
"We knew that they were a little bit better than us coming in," said Millard, "but we were still hoping for a little better showing. We wanted to do a few more things well, but we just didn't execute well in certain situations. There were a lot of fundamental mistakes which you can't have against a team like Germantown and expect to win."
Homestead got off to a good start as Nolan Cohen won by pin to start the match at 145 pounds, but then the Warhawks got back-to-back wins from Danny Krause at 152 (3:51) and Tyler Baran at 160 (23-9 major decision) to take a 10-6 lead.
Nick Pierret gave Homestead its last lead of the night with a pin in 3:34 at 170.
Following Germantown heavyweight bombing, the Highlanders tried to get back into the match with back-to-back pins by Jacob Sanner (2:55) at 106 and Josh Ference at 113 (5:29).
Ference's match with Germantown's Josh Butz was arguably the wildest of the night, with Ference finally getting the stick with the score 22-14 in his favor.
The score was 34-24 at that point, but the Warhawks headed off any drama, as Tyler Colegrove won a tense 4-3 decision over Homestead's Drew Waller at 120 and Brandon Goesch recorded a pin in just 1:32 at 126 to make it 43-24 Germantown.
Homestead's Zach Mueller got a pin in 5:23 at 132 and Germantown's Tyler Palzkill closed the Warhawks' senior night out on a positive note, with a pin in 3:23 at 138.
"It meant a lot to get a win on senior night," said Knippen. "Good to get a team win too."
"We wrestled as we could have last night (against Bay)," said Millard, "but if we want to be a solid team, we have to be steady and sturdy throughout. On the plus side, as poorly as we wrestled, we were only a couple of wins away from making this really interesting."
Gabrielson was pleased it didn't come to that.
"We always have a good time in this meet," he said. "It's always a battle on the mat and great sportsmanship afterwards."
And the bobblehead in the hallway probably nodded his head vigorously in agreement with that statement.
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