Don't forget to check back Saturday for live coverage of the WIAA wrestling individual state finals. Wrestlers in the semifinals from the Lake Country Publications area include: Arrowhead's James Clark (125 pounds), Arrowhead's Arik Yde (130), Arrowhead's Nick Huckey (135), Mukwonago's Billy Schlottke (152) and Mukwonago's Brad Baus (189). Hucke is looking for his third straight title, and Schlottke is gunning for No. 2.
Lots of Division 2 and Division 3 action going on during the afternoon at the Kohl Center in Madison, and Pewaukee wrestlers David Phillips (145) and Josh Mohr (189) are the newest Lake Country-area visitor to the semifinals, defeating Tim Miller of Rice Lake, 7-4, and Jake Filkins of Prescott, 6-5, respectively.
Phillips (46-4) will face Cole Schmitt of BellevilleMonticello/New Glarus (43-1) in the semifinals, which is no easy task considering Schmitt has won state titles each of the past two years. Mohr (39-10) will challenge Nick Lloyd of Luxemburg-Casco (39-2) -- another defending title-holder -- in the semifinals.
As for other semifinal matchups featuring our guys, let's take a look:
James Clark, Arrowhead (40-2) vs. Anthony VandeHei, Hortonville (30-2), 125 pounds
Al Yde, Arrowhead (43-5) vs. Matt Gaffney, Sauk Prairie (43-1), 130 pounds
Nick Hucke, Arrowhead (37-0) vs. Justin Garcia, Verona Area (39-3), 135 pounds
Billy Schlottke, Mukwonago (43-0) vs. Eric Vanevenhoven, Kaukauna (42-4), 152 pounds
Brad Baus, Mukwonago (43-0) vs. Joe Budi, Kaukauna (47-0)
Obviously the match that jumps out is the last one, with two undefeated wrestlers locking horns. However, Thursday's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel report from the Kohl Center indicated Baus suffered an injury during his quarterfinal win over Kyle Castellion of Muskego, leaving his status for tonight in doubt. It would be a shame, since this has been a buzzworthy possible match since the brackets were drawn. Budi is the defending state champion and widely regarded as one of the state's best in any class or division, and he's a challenge at full strength, let alone after injury.
VandeHei is the No. 2 wrestler in the state, according to Wisconsin Wrestling Online's 125-pound rankings in Division 1, but Clark defeated Sam Umlauf of Wausau West (ranked No. 3) in the quarterfinals, so he's no stranger to pulling upsets.
Yde turned an upset in beating Aaron Gilling of D.C. Everest in the opening round, and Gaffney is probably the favorite to win the bracket after trumping Glen Meyerhofer of Kaukauna in the second round.
Schlottke and Hucke are the prohibitive favorites to win their bracket.
I'm super early, but I have arrived at the Kohl Center in Madison, with the WIAA championship matches slated to begin at 6 p.m. We're down to two wrestlers in the Lake Country Publications coverage zone vying for state titles, and both have been there before: Nick Hucke of Arrowhead and Billy Schlottke of Mukwonago. Both wrestlers enter the final match of their high school career undefeated, and as defending state champions. Hucke is looking to become the first wrestler in Arrowhead history to win three state titles, and Schlottke is looking to join Chad Leviner as the only Mukwonago wrestlers to earn two.
While we prepare for the main events, I should point out that the Lake Country Area will be well-represented on the podium, regardless of what happens in the final matches. Several locals earned top-six finishes, with most of those third-place and fifth-place matches wrapping up earlier today.
Arrowhead freshman Jake Sueflohn capped an incredible freshman season by finishing 48-4, defeating Scott Lau of Muskego and taking third place at 119 pounds. Lau, oddly enough, was the only wrestler to beat Sueflohn at the Kohl Center this weekend, trumping him via 6-4 overtime decision in the quarterfinals. Sueflohn had to win his next three matches to earn one more chance against Lau for a third-place spot, and the Arrowhead rookie finished with five wins in six matches at state. Safe to say, the state will have their eye on Sueflohn for the next three years.
Pewaukee picked up a pair of third-place finishes in David Phillips (145 pounds) and Josh Mohr (189) in the Division 2 field. Phillips (48-5) defeated Tommy Dobbs of Melrose-Mindoro, 7-3, and won three of four matches during his stay at state. Only defending state champion Cole Schmitt of Belleville/Monticello/New Glarus defeated the Pirates junior. Mohr (41-11) surprised some people by beating Josh Filkins of Prescott to take third place -- the second time Mohr had defeated Filkins in the tournament. Defending state champ Nick Lloyd of Luxemburg-Casco was Mohr's only setback in four tries.
Both Pewaukee and Arrowhead will get to strut their stuff at the team wrestling state meet next weekend, also hosted in Madison (hopefully we'll have a live blog there as well).
Arrowhead junior James Clark (41-4) took fourth place at 125 pounds, facing Sueflohn's situation in reverse. Sam Umlauf of Wausau West (50-2) lost to Clark in the quarterfinals, but rebounded to nip Clark in the third-place match, 5-4. Still a great showing for Clark, who will certainly be among the favorites to take a state title next year. Not that Clark will stay at 125 pounds necessarily, but both of the finalists this year (Malachi Root of Green Bay Preble/East and Anthony VandeHei of Hortonville) are seniors.
Oconomowoc sophomore Zach Mommaerts took fifth place at 103 pounds, winning four of his six matches and losing the other two in one-point decisions. He narrowly lost to defending state champion Alex Becka of Manitowoc Lincoln in the quarters, 3-2, but rallied back with consecutive wins before a 4-3 loss to Billy Lorenz of LaCrosse Logan. Mommaerts is a good story, having qualified for sectionals as a freshman last year but missing the trip after breaking his wrist in practice. Check LCP staff writer Chuck Delsman's article on Mommaerts here.
Senior Arik Yde (43-8) continued to represent Arrowhead well by taking sixth place at 130 pounds. Yde reached the semifinals before falling to Matt Gaffney of Sauk Prairie, with losses to Steven Monk of Wausau West and Aaron Gilling of D.C. Everest thereafter. The loss in the fifth-place match came via 1-0 decision.
Brother Al Yde (45-11) joined his older sibling with a fine showing at 145 pounds, also taking sixth place. The sophomore won three of his six matches, with losses to finalist Dillon Bera of Kaukauna and Waukesha North's Jerick Kuester -- who came to state undefeated -- among the weekend's events. The name Yde figures to remain prominent in Arrowhead wrestling for at least the next couple years.
It was a disappointing weekend for Mukwonago's Brad Baus -- but not because of his performance on the mat. The 189-pounder came into the field with high expectations, having beaten defending 171-pound champ and 2008 finalist Jody VanLaanen of Ashwaubenon during the season and carrying an undefeated record into the meet. But Baus suffered a separated shoulder in his win over Muksego's Kyle Castellion in the third period, and Baus was unable to wrestle against fellow undefeated matman Joe Budi of Kaukauna in the semifinals.
Because of forfeits in the semifinal and subsequent consolation matches, Baus finishes with a sixth place and listed record of 43-3 -- even though not one of those losses came on the mat. It's a "what-might-have-been" bummer for Baus, but at least he gets a spot on the podium despite the injury.
Regardless, the meeting between Budi and VanLaanen -- both defending state champs -- will be among the night's highlights for the packed house in the Kohl Center.
Others who qualified but did not place -- Chris Ponder of St. John's Northwestern Military Academy, Praveen Bhat and John Hrabik of Pewaukee, Dan Kachelmeyer of Mukwonago, Sussex Hamilton junior Chad McLaughlin and Arrowhead entrants Chris Senner, Torsten Nieminen, Derek Thommesen, Eric Herbert and Andre Orr.
Four times the fun: Dodgeville's Bobby Wunnicke and Luxemburg-Casco's Zac Cibula enter tonight's championship matches looking to become the eighth and ninth four-time state champions in Wisconsin history. Both will wrestle in Division 2 title matches at 125 and 152 pounds, respectively. Wunnicke won titles in 2005 (103 pounds), 2006 (112) pounds and last year (119), though he was rewarded the 2006 title after Anthony Lampe of Tomahawk -- who defeated him in the title match -- was ruled ineligible. Cibula had to rally in a close quarterfinal against Logan Einerson of Lodi, though he pinned his man in the semis. Believe it or not, he's one of six Luxemburg-Casco wrestlers in title matches tonight. Cibula won titles at 130 pounds (2005), 140 (2006) and 145 (2007).
Team talk: Arrowhead only has one wrestler in the finals, but by qualifying a tourney-best 10 wrestlers to state, they've shown what their made of. They'll get a chance to prove it when they open against Tomah in the team state tourney next Friday. They got their by virtue of an 80-0 win over Brookfield East -- an outcome that has many buzzing about East's tactics. The Spartans forfeited six matches and sent a skeleton crew to the team sectional, prompting some to say East was saving its wrestlers for the individual sectional the following Saturday, rather than go toe-to-toe with a stronger AHS squad. CNI Newspapers columnist Steve Tietz has a great look at the situation here, at MyCommunityNow.com.
Local flavor: I've already talked about the Lake Country athletes involved in tonight's competition, but several other Milwaukee-area kids will be on display tonight as well. Among those battling for state titles tonight: Alex Dieringer of Port Washington (103 pounds), Jesse Thielke of Germantown (112), Derek Olson of Muskego (130), Jeff Lemmer of Milwaukee Bradley Tech (160) and Kevin Zeitler of Wisconsin Lutheran (heavyweight). I'll try to keep tabs on their performances as well, but I'll be focusing on Hucke and Schlottke.
Don't forget to add your comments if you'd like beneath each post. You can also email me by clicking on the "email author" link at the top of the page when you click on the "comments" button. I'll do my best to check both during the live blogging and respond where I can. My e-mail is email@example.com.
I already have a discussion topic for the comments thread -- WIAA Communications Director Todd Clark said WIAA.TV received 100,000 hits during the weekend watching televised footage of the early rounds. The finals won't be broadcast there since FoxSports will be carrying the broadcast on tape delay, but Todd wants to know if anyone saw the WIAA.TV feeds and has any feedback or thoughts.
I watched some of the earlier rounds at work (shhhh, don't tell my boss!), and though it's hard to tell who's on the mat you're watching, it's pretty cool to have cameras on all six mats at once.
The doors are open at the Kohl Center and people have begun filtering into the arena. I've been to state wrestling once before, and I know how full this place gets -- it's hard to believe if you don't see it firsthand. Many people are already peppering the seating at the end of the arena where Division 1 matches will be conducted.
The format is pretty simple -- three matches take place at the same time (for each of the three divisions), starting at 103 pounds and progressing forward through the 14 flights, finishing with 285. Division 2 gets center stage somewhat, with D1 championships held at the north end of the arena and D3 matches at the south.
One of my favorite aspects of this tournament is what happens in the hour leading up to the title matches. All the kids competing in the finals from all three divisions hit the floor at the Kohl Center and participate in warmups -- running, stretching, etc. It's hard to grasp that every single one of those kids out there, big and small, are vying for state titles.
The Ring of Champions (not sure if that's the official name or not) comes just before the matches start ... the lights go off and the kids march around the arena. Really, really cool stuff before a packed house.
I notice the Luxemburg-Casco kids running laps in a pack. Easy to do since there are SIX of them vying for state titles. Ridiculous. If Pewaukee is fortunate enough to face them in the team championship match next weekend, they're going to have their hands full.
A quick rundown of who we're watching in tonight's Division 1 title matches:
- Nick Hucke, Arrowhead (38-0) vs. Ben Thone, Fond du Lac (41-7), 135-pound championship
- Billy Schlottke, Mukwonago (44-0) vs. Jake Abhold, Hortonville (33-8), 152-pound championship
Others of note from the Milwaukee area:
- Alex Dieringer, Port Washington (44-0) vs. Alex Becka, Manitowoc (44-2), 103 pounds
- Jesse Thielke, Germantown (45-0) vs. Carl DeLuca, Wisconsin Rapids (43-2), 112 pounds
- Derek Olson, Muskego (44-3) vs. Matt Gaffney, Sauk Prarie (44-1), 130 pounds
- Jeff Lemmer, Bradley Tech (51-0) vs. Richard Kessler, Elkhorn (36-3), 160 pounds
- Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin Lutheran (43-1) vs. Zak Saevre, Ashwaubenon (47-0), 285 pounds
Well the Kohl Center speaker system works just fine. The big screen is showing highlights of the tourney thus far, with tunes such as "Sweet Emotion" by Aerosmith, "Lucky Man" by the Verve and "How Far We've Come" by Matchbox Twenty, and the volume is insanely loud. Someone turn down the volume just a couple notches please!
There's 20 minutes to go before the finals start, and already the three decks of the Kohl Center have filled in. Plenty of open spaces remain, but I have a feeling that's going to change by the time 6 p.m. rolls around.
The big board footage is now showing highlights of last year's finals, with glimpses of Hucke and Schlottke winning their titles included.
The walk around the arena concludes with each entrant matched with his opponent, staring across the mat on which they're going to compete. The National Anthem has come and gone, and we're ready for wrestling.
Port Washington's Alex Dieringer has garnered plenty of buzz as one of the state's best freshman (joining 112-pounder Jesse Thielke of Germantown). Dieringer enters with a perfect 44-0 record, but he's paired against a senior from Manitowoc. Alex Becka also happens to be the returning state champion at 103. It should be a great way to start Division 1 competition.
After first period: no score
After second period: 3-0, Dieringer. The Port entrant controlled most of the latter half, turned Becka twice and got nearfall points on the second effort.
Final: 4-0, Dieringer. Dieringer adds an escape and rides Becka through the rest of the period. Lots of people have zeroed in on Dieringer as a potential four-time state champion. He just got his first.
Milwaukee wins the first Division 1 match ... how will they do in the second? Jesse Thielke steps onto the mat for his first attempt at a state title.
After first period: 5-1, Thielke. The kid is in total control against the Rapids senior.
Stoppages abound as DeLuca clears some blood off his face. While we're talking about Germantown, I saw they defeated Waukesha South in boys basketball action earlier today. The winner of tonight's Arrowhead-Sussex Hamilton game will face Germantown in a sectional semifinal at the Al McGuire Center in Milwaukee. I'll keep an eye on that outcome if I can.
After second period: 6-1, Thielke. Germantown's freshman has been on the offensive all match, and DeLuca has yet to show that he can accumulate points.
Final: 10-2, Thielke. Jesse adds a reverse and a takedown for good measure, and Germantown gets their first-ever WIAA state wrestling champion.
They're presenting the awards for the 103 pound champions, with medals going to top six finishers. Among them earning a medal -- Zach Mommaerts of Oconomowoc. I'm sure he'll be back on this stage in the next couple years, though he'll have his work cut out for him if he has to battle Dieringer, who just swept through his first high school season with a perfect record (ditto for Thielke).
No Milwaukee wrestlers for a couple flights here, so I'll keep updates light for a bit.
The Wave makes is way around the Kohl Center, just as Martino Balsiger of Chippewa Falls takes a 7-1 decision to win the 119-pound title over Ian Duncan of Tomah. Our first nail-biter of the day is taking place on the Division two mat, where Charlie Wanty of Waupaca and Adam Zehren of Luxemburg-Casco went down to the final second. Wanty was given an escape point in the last two seconds, and a throw by Casco's kid at the buzzer came too late. A tight 4-3 decision.
Muskego's Derek Olson looks to become the seventh state champion in school history, and first since Riley Kreuzer won on a last-second escape in 2006.
Some notes from the 125-pound finals: Anthony VandeHei of Hortonville scored a takedown with 14 seconds left and spun a 5-4 victory over Malachi Root of Green Bay Preble/East. In Division 2, Bobby Wunnicke of Dodgeville put the wraps on his fourth state championship, becoming the eighth wrestler in the history of the state tournament to do so. Zac Cibula of Luxemburg-Casco will have a chance to add his name to the list later today.
On to Olson-Gaffney!
After first period: No score. I'd give the slight edge in assertiveness to Gaffney.
After second period: 5-0, Gaffney. Gaffney uses a strong kick to put Olson on his back, leading to a trio of nearfall points. Gaffney continues to maintain control of the match.
Final: 5-0, Gaffney. Olson's only a sophomore, so he's going to have two more chances to win a state title. A fourth-place and second-place finish in his first couple tries is nothing to sneeze at.
It's the first of two main events for Lake Country readers as Nick Hucke (38-0) seeks to become the first three-time titleholder in school history, challenging Ben Thone of Fond du Lac (41-7). Keep refreshing for updates.
Hucke was 49-0 last year in winning the 130-pound state title, and he hasn't lost a match since midway through his sophomore season, at the talent-heavy Cheesehead Invite in Kaukauna. The AHS senior won at 125 in 2006. He was the only entrant in this year's 135- pound field with fewer than two losses, and one of two with fewer than three.
Thone defeated Tyler Furgur of Wausau West in the semifinal, 12-3. Hucke topped Justin Garcia of Verona Area in the semis, 10-4.
First period: Hucke out fast, as he usually is. Takes Thone to the circle a couple times, and the referee resets in neutral position Hucke is far and away the aggressor. Thone tries a shoot but Hucke reads it, and a stalemate gets called. Now Hucke slides around Thone for a reverse, two points. Hucke rides out the period. After one: Hucke 2, Thone 0.
Second period:Thone starts on top but Hucke gets to his feet quickly and escapes, upping his lead to 3-0. Thone shoots again, but it's a stalemate before long, with a minute gone by in the second period. Now it's Hucke's turn to shoot and he takes down Thone, adding two more points. Trying to turn the Fond du Lac opponent. Hucke gets whistled for a headlock, giving Thone his first point, and Thone escapes to draw closer on the ensuing sequence. Neutral position with under 20 seconds to play -- neither wrestler tries to do too much. After two: Hucke 5, Thone 2.
Third period: Hucke on top and he's doing all he can to turn Thone, but his opponent wriggles free. Hucke re-asserts himself and gets Thone on his back. Referee starts counting, worth two nearfall points.
Hucke is hurt. He's in pain after trying to pin down Thone. The coaching staff is tending to him and I'm screened as to what hurts -- it appears to be an ankle. There is 1:12 left to go in the third period, and Hucke has a 7-2 lead. He seems to be in a lot of discomfort, though he's sitting up now. He limps noticeably as he gets to his feet, but he seems prepared to close the deal.
Showing no ill effects from the ankle, he starts on top and brings Thone to the mat. This is where he's comfortable anyway. He turns Thone and the nearfall points are counting! The ref is looking for confirmation of a pin and the crowd starts chanting "Huck-e, Hucke-e."
Three points to Hucke, even though he ultimately let Thone break free. Thone tries to shoot one last time, but it's not happening. Nick Hucke is a three time state champion.
Final: Hucke 10, Thone 3.
Congrats to Nick Hucke, state champion in 135 pounds. I'll try to get some quotes from coach and wrestler.
Some postmatch thoughts from Nick Hucke after winning his third straight state title:
On watching two-time AHS state champ Ben Askren in middle school...
"My brother was on the team with Ben and I wrestled with Max (Askren) one year. I've been following those guys all through middle school and high school, I'm pretty close friends with them. I'll be wrestling at Missouri, and they're probably the reason for that because I'm really close to the guys. I know I can improve a lot wrestling with those guys; they're the best wrestlers around."
On being the first to win three titles at Arrowhead ...
"(Ben Askren) would have gotten it if he wouldn't have gotten hurt. I think that's the best at Arrowhead, so that's pretty sweet holding that record."
On the cramp in his leg sustained during the third period...
"It didn't feel good, I tell you that. I was just hoping it would go away and I could finish the match. It's happened before in a match, so I knew it wasnt anything severe. I wrestled through it and won the match."
On his mentality in the state tournament...
"I didn't really think of losing. I knew I could win this tournament. I didn't just come in here knowing I could win the tournament, I didn't think like that. I wanted to go out and wrestle my best match every match, and that's what I did."
The 152-pound championship is coming up.
Hucke didn't have to injury default after sustaining a cramp in the third period, but there have been two injury defaults since I last posted -- one in the 140-pound championship in Division 1 and one in the 145-pound match in Division 3. Neither one looked good, either.
I have to confess, I'm a graduate of Kaukauna High School, so I'm excited to see Dillon Bera win the 145-pound title in Division 1. I might be cheering for Joe Budi to win at 189. Not that I'll be cheering on press row, of course. I will be a behaved media man.
Billy Schlottke hits the mat in search of his second straight 152-pound title in Division 1, challenging Jake Abhold of Hortonville (33-8). With a win, Schlottke would secure a 45-0 record for the second year in a row. Here we go.
First period: Schlottke on the offensive does all he can to get Abhold to the ground, but the Hortonville wrestler manages to fight him off for a bit -- until Billy finally gets his takedown. Abhold gets an escape before the wrestlers return to neutral position, with Schlottke up, 2-1. Schlottke drives Abhold to the mat for two more points, and Abhold immediately goes on the defensive and flips himself to his stomach. The takedown was one of the loudest slaps against the mat we've had so far. Abhold manages to get to his feet, but Schlottke isn't letting go or relenting. Still, no more points as the buzzer sounds. After one: Schlottke 4, Abhold 1.
Second period: Schlottke gets a turn on Abhold 25 seconds into the period and the nearfall points are accumulating. The Polar Bear (yep, that's their mascot) wriggles back to safety, but that's three more points for Mukwonago's top wrestler. Abhold tries to escape once he's on his feet but the wrestlers are outside the circle. Schlottke resumes complete control of the match -- it's become a battle of seeing whether or not it will happen via pin. Abhold desperately trying to work out an escape, but Schlottke keeps him in check. After two: Schlottke 7, Abhold 1.
Third period: Two more points for a Schlottke takedown, and briefly it seems Abhold can be turned onto his back, but he recovers in time. Abhold shows serious signs of life with a big reverse, and for the first time in a long time, Abhold is on top and in control, in desperate search of a pin. With 44 seconds left, Billy is on bottom, and Abhold resumes trying to flip him. A stalemate gets called with 31 ticks on the clock.For a brief second, Abhold has great position, but Schlottke recovers nicely and then slams Abhold to the ground again, flat on his back. It could have been a pin eventually, but the buzzer sounds. Billy Schlottke: two time state champion.
Final: Schlottke 11, Abhold 4.
Quotes from Billy Schlottke after the win:
Comparing the two state titles...
"I really can't compare them. They're both just as good as the next one. This one may have been a little better because it's my senior year and I went out with a bang. They're both great."
On nearly getting the pin...
"Yeah I did (want the pin). It would be awesome to pin in the state finals."
On whether or not he had any doubts...
"I never doubted it. Once you doubt, that's when you lose. You always have to believe in yourself. You have to go out there with confidence and get it the way you want it."
On plans next year...
"I might run (cross country). Marquette, Old Dominion, Wyoming, Northern Iowa, I really don't know."
"It's a great way to end my season, my senior year, my career. To be undefeated the last two years, it's awesome."
Coach Andy Trudell:
"I worried about Bill in the semifinals. He was a little nervous and a little too cautious, and that's just not his style. Tonight was just the opposite. He went out, was very aggressive, on the attack right away. When he wrestles like that, he's not going to get beaten, I don't care who it is."
"Last year in the semifinals was the same thing; that was his toughest match. You want to get to the finals so bad, maybe he just put too much pressure there ... repeating is difficult, too. You have more pressure on you. He was just a little cautious."
On Schlottke's value to the MHS program...
"There's no real way to summarize it. He's been a great leader, and obviously a great contributor, and our program has gotten better as he's come through it. He's an awesome kid and our kids respect him and follow his lead."
Much has happened since I tracked down Billy Schlottke and coach Andy Trudell. Zac Cibula won his fourth state title, joining Bobby Wunnicke (who accomplished it earlier tonight) and seven others in the history of the state meet. He got a standing ovation when he was announced on the podium, and he gave Luxemburg-Casco their second state title in three tries tonight. They also have finalists in 171, 189 and 215.
Jake Lemmer of Bradley Tech won the state title at 160 pounds, giving the Milwaukee-area their fifth title of the day (Dieringer, Thielke, Hucke, Schlottke, Lemmer). Derek Olson of Muskego is the only finalist to come up short, and only heavyweight Kevin Zeitler of Wisconsin Lutheran remains to wrestle.
The match between Joe Budi and Jody VanLaanen at 189 remains my match to circle for the evening, so I have to at least stay that long. But the Lake Country area is done for the night, with two more state titles hanging around its neck.
Hunger has set in. I wonder what the concession stands have to offer.
For all the hype I've been giving Luxemburg-Casco, I should probably point out that fellow Division 2 school Dodgeville is having a great day as well, led by a pair of Grants and a four-time state champ. Bobby Wunnicke won at 125, as I mentioned, for his fourth title, and Grant Miller (171 pounds -- just won) and Grant Sutter (112) have gold medals to wear home as well. Dodgeville only brought one other wrestler to state, so give them points for efficiency, while give Casco points for quantity.
Sam Engelland of Neenah just wrapped up a Division 1 title at 171 pounds, defeating Jackson Hein of Wausau West, 7-5. Only three matches to go and then we're wrapped.
Running down some pairings coming up for the team state competition, involving Lake Country teams next weekend:
Quarterfinals - Friday, Feb. 29 - 7 p.m.
Match-1: Tomah vs. Arrowhead
Match-2: Kaukauna vs. Milton
Match-3: Ashwaubenon vs. Muskego
Match-4: Wausau West vs. Franklin
Semifinals - Saturday, March 1 - 9 a.m.
Match-5: Winner of Match 1 vs. Winner of Match 2
Match-6: Winner of Match 3 vs. Winner of Match 4
Final - Saturday March 1 - 6 p.m.
Match-7: Winner of Match 5 vs. Winner of Match 6
Semifinals - Saturday, March 1 - 1 p.m.
Match-1: Ellsworth vs. Luxemburg-Casco
Match-2: Lodi vs. Pewaukee
Final - Saturday March 1 - 6 p.m.
Match-3: Winner of Match 1 vs. Winner of Match 2
You can't judge a wrestling team by how many individual placewinners it has, but just for fun, let's take a look at first round opponents for Arrowhead and Pewaukee next weekend:
Tomah (6 qualifiers):
2 second place finishes (Ian Duncan -- 119, Jacob McGinnis -- 145)
1 sixth place finish (John Van Gundy -- 285)
3 unplaced (Kevin Betthauser -- 103, Scott Pierce -- 125, Zach Taylor -- 135)
Arrowhead (10 qualifiers):
1 champion (Nick Hucke -- 135)
1 third place finish (Jake Sueflohn -- 119)
1 fourth place finish (James Clark -- 125)
2 sixth place finishes (Arik Yde -- 130, Al Yde -- 145)
5 unplaced (Chris Senner -- 140, Torsten Nieminen -- 152, Derek Thommesen -- 171, Eric Herbert -- 189, Andre Orr -- 215)
Lodi (6 qualifiers):
2 third-place finishes (Logan Einerson -- 152, Cody Endres -- 215)
2 fifth-place finishes (Chris Sokol -- 112, Douglas Schutz -- 135)
2 unplaced (Tony Zeman -- 140, Troy Zeman -- 160)
Pewaukee (4 qualifiers):
2 third place finishes (David Phillips -- 145, Josh Mohr -- 189)
2 unplaced (Praveen Bhat -- 103, John Hrabik -- 152)
It might seem like Pewaukee is on the short end of the stick against Lodi, but it should be noted that Sheboygan Falls -- a team Pewaukee defeated dramatically in the sectional final -- has six state qualifiers as well, including two place-winners.
Arrowhead figures to be the favorite in their match, meanwhile. A win could pit them against Kaukauna -- a team that could have the inside track for the state title. With Wisconsin Rapids out of the mix for the first time in an eternity (12 titles and 1 runner-up finish in the last 13 years), it's an unusual sensation to know that it's truly up for grabs this time around.
At 189, Kaukauna's Joe Budi came away with his second straight state title, defeating Jody VanLaanen of Ashwaubenon (who won the 171-pound title last year), 8-1. VanLaanen had his chance to put Budi on his back, but it was fleeting, and Budi controlled the majority of the match.
Ashwaubenon has got to be one of the toughest upper-weight teams in any division. VanLaanen at 189, Mike Taylor at 215 (the newest state champ after a 3-2 win over Vance Grube of Wisconsin Rapids) and now undefeated Zak Saevre steps to the mat against Kevin Zeitler of Wisconsin Lutheran.
You have to feel for Brad Baus, who as I mentioned before was forced to withdraw from his semifinal match against Joe Budi after separating his shoulder in the quarterfinal. Baus just received his sixth-place medal, wearing a sling on his left arm. He was forced to forfeit both consolation matches in addition to the semifinal, leaving him on the low part of the podium despite a 43-0 record this year.
They should be, since the Division 1 finals feature a pair of future Badgers. Mike Taylor (who just won the 215 title) and Kevin Zeitler of Wisconsin Lutheran (about to challenge Taylor's teammate Zak Saevre) will both be on the gridiron for the Badgers next year. If the coaches are checking it out somewhere in the Kohl Center, they were probably disconcerted when Taylor needed some time out in the third period as trainers tended to some kind of injury -- I speculate that he got poked in the eye.
Almost done here from Madison.
Last year, Saevre took an undefeated record into the state semifinals before Andy Cabral turned a pin and recorded what might have been the upset of the Division 1 tournament. Now, Zeitler (43-1) will try to turn the feat against the 47-0 Ashwaubenon entrant.
End of first period: 1-0, Saevre. Lots of pushing around, as is often the case in heavyweight matches, with very little on-the-mat work. They finally hit Zeitler with a stalling point in the final seconds.
End of second period: 1-1. eitler had control of the entire period, and spent most of it trying to turn Saevre, who also got called for stalling.
Final: Saevre 6, Zeitler 2. Very unpopular call to penalize Zeitler for stalling again, and Saevre takes a 2-1 lead with 30 seconds remaining in the third period. The boo birds don't agree, and they want Saevre hit with a similar penalty. The ref finally obliges in the final three seconds. Then, Saevre scores a takedown at the last second to win the title and close the day on a thrilling note.
Special thanks to everyone who helped make this possible, notably Lake Country Publications web editor Erin Mellone. Stay tuned for more high school state tourney live blogging at the Preps Alcove.
The Preps Alcove will be out and about this weekend for additional live blogging. Check back here for live updates during the following events:
Friday, Feb. 29
WIAA Division 1 boys basketball sectional
Sussex Hamilton vs. Germantown, 6 p.m.
Kettle Moraine vs. Milwaukee Vincent, 8 p.m.
Saturday, March 1
WIAA Wrestling Team State Tournament
Arrowhead (if advancing) vs. TBA, 9 a.m.
Pewaukee vs. Lodi, 1 p.m.
I just arrived at the Al McGuire Center in Milwaukee, gearing up for boys basketball action from the WIAA Division 1 sectional, including Germantown vs. Sussex Hamilton and Milwaukee Vincent vs. Kettle Moraine.
It's safe to say both of the Lake Country Publications teams (Hamilton and KM) are the underdogs, but both are playing with renewed expectations. It's Hamilton's first trip to the sectional since 1995, with an arsenal of sophomores leading the way, and it's Kettle Moraine's second trip since 1989, with a nice balance of big men and guards.
The "Al" is on the campus of Marquette University, opened in 2004 and named after the legendary Marquette coach who led the school to its only men's basketball national championship. The women's basketball and volleyball teams play their home games here, and I love coming back here each year for the Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook Shootout, which often features a sampling of the state's premier basketball teams.
It's a perfect venue for big time high school hoops, and if you've never been here, I strongly encourage you to find time for a trip.
Last night's action could not have been more exciting in the same venue, with the annual monster of "Sectional No. 8" hosting its semifinals.
Pretty much everyone agrees the talent in that sectional is a bit unfair, as state-level teams often have to claw and scratch just to reach the sectional. Teams like Milwaukee Pius (with Michigan State recruit Korie Lucious -- a player most view as the best in the state) didn't get this far, let alone beyond.
Milwaukee Washington lost its first game of the year to Milwaukee King, 59-58, and Wauwatosa East won a nail-biter in overtime over Milwaukee Custer, 62-60. King and East face off for the right to reach state tomorrow at 1 p.m., while the winners tonight meet at 7 p.m. tomorrow night.
Washington (21-1) was the top-ranked team in the state, and it's the second straight year that King has ended their season at the Al, just shy of state. It's a brutal, brutal sectional. Some really tremendous players (Jerry Smith of Tosa East and Dwight Buycks of Bay View come to immediate mind) never had a chance to reach the Kohl Center in Madison because of the talent within Sectional No. 8.
Fortunately for the Lake Country teams in tonight's competition, this sectional is slightly more negotiable. Not that anything will come easy, of course. The two opponents (Germantown and Milwaukee Vincent) are both regarded among the state's 10 best teams.
You get spoiled as a journalist covering high school hoops at this arena. They give you live stats and feature a scoreboard which includes individual scoring and foul totals for those players on the floor. I guarantee you won't find that in too many high school gyms and fieldhouses.
I watched Hamilton earlier this year on this same floor, when they surprised Wausau East, 71-67. Kameron Cerroni set a Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook Shootout record with 36 points in that game, though he had some overtime minutes to help his cause. East currently sits at 15-7 after taking second in the Wisconsin Valley Conference.
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Sussex Hamilton (14-8)
Adam Gallo, 5-11 Sr., 6.9 ppg
Brian Gryszkiewicz, 5-10 So., 6.0 ppg
Brett Meinecke, 6-0 So., 13.2 ppg
Kameron Cerroni, 6-0 So., 27.0 ppg
Eric Reimer, 5-10 So., 4.5 ppg
Rick Bowers, 6-0 Sr., 14.6 ppg
Nick Doedens, 6-1 Sr., 12.4 ppg
Zach Neumann, 6-5 Sr., 9.0 ppg
Ben Averkamp, 6-7 Jr., 16.3 ppg
Andy Neumann, 6-1 Sr., 6.4 ppg
About the Chargers: You can tell from their lineup -- the Chargers are not going to overwhelm you with their size or their experience. The squad has just three seniors and no players over 6-foot-1. But the four sophomores in the starting lineup have turned Hamilton into a bit of a giant killer, with wins against Brookfield Central and Arrowhead part of a current six-game winning streak and stretch of eight wins in nine tries. This is the team's first appearance in the sectional since 1995. Cerroni and Meinecke are both ranked among the state's top 25 sophomores by WIshoops.net, and Cerroni is listed No. 6. Coach is Kameron's father, Andy Cerroni.
About the Warhawks: Defeated Hamilton earlier this year in the WBBY Shootout on the same Al McGuire Center floor, 66-53. Four players reached double figures in that contest, including Bowers, considered the state's No. 36 senior by Wishoops. Averkamp is rated the No. 4 junior by the same publication and obviously gives the Hawks an inside presence at 6-foot-7. Germantown is in the midst of an 18-game winning streak, with just two wins by fewer than 10 points in that stretch. They barnstormed the North Shore Conference at 14-0. Coached by Steve Showalter.
Sussex Hamilton's boys basketball tradition may not have included many sectional visits in recent memory, but the fan support has always been ample. The sea of red on the south end of the floor is chanting "We can't hear you" as the Germantown pep band delivers some tunes with under 2 minutes remaining in warmups.
The venue is nowhere near capacity at this point, but I would give the early edge in fan support to the Chargers.
Germantown (whose fan support is still pretty good ... don't mean to sell them short) provides the national anthem, again with their pep band, and the starting lineups are about to be announced. It's an unusual environment for high school fans, because the students sit on either end of the floor, rather than the traditional sidelines. The Hamilton fans have brought signage to hang over the wall on their end of the court, each one trumpeting one of the classes.
The sign with the most names belongs to the class of 2010, as I've already mentioned. All the Chargers players get introduced, and then the starting five, going Gallo, Reimer, Cerroni, Gryszkiewicz, and Meinecke.
I haven't been to enough Hamilton games this year to see this particular twist -- the student section jumping rapidly in unison with the huddle of players on the court. It's a cool visual. Then, of course, the students turn their backs to the court as Germantown gets announced.
Germantown assistant coach Jim Lawinger might be a familiar name to Sussex fans -- after all, he was the head coach for the Chargers the last time they went to state, in 1987.
Germantown's star center, Ben Averkamp, is cousins with University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee big man Jason Averkamp, who turned in an impressive 21-point performance a few nights ago against Valparaiso (my alma mater, so I was in attendance to see it). Jason played at New Berlin West and graduated a couple years ago, and he's seen increased playing time with some UWM injuries. He had nine points and nine boards last night against Loyola.
There's the tip -- and it's Averkamp who gets the game's first bucket, plus a foul on Gryszkiewicz. We're off, and it's already 3-0 Germantown.
Not what Hamilton was hoping for.
Before Hamilton can even get the ball to their half of the court, it's 8-0, Germantown. Rick Bowers converted a steal after the three-point play to open the game into a layup, and Hamilton turned it over again in the backcourt leading into a Zach Neumann three-pointer.
Chargers get their first shot, miss, and Averkamp converts on the other end. It's 10-0, and a minute has barely gone by.
Hamilton is an incredible free throw shooting team, but Kam Cerroni short ironed his first opportunity of the night, with Germantown fans harassing him from behind the basket. He makes the second to make it 10-1, and HHS has forced a couple of G-Town turnovers in the meantime. Their ball, down 10-1, 6:05 to go in the first.
Cerroni -- who will certainly get his share of shots in this game -- had his shot blocked but came back to poke the ball away from behind at midcourt. A follow-up three pointer is off the mark, however.
Nick Doedens makes it 12-1 for G-Town, but Brett Meinecke drives and scores on the ensuing possession. Reimer drives and scores after a Warhawks miss, but gets hit with a charging foul. Back to G-Town it goes, 12-3, 4:14 to go in the first.
Reimer picks up a second foul and Mike Minsky, who shot the lights out at a game in the WBBY Shootout earlier this year on the same court, buries another 3-pointer and Hamilton needs a timeout. Germantown has a 15-3 lead, with 3:43 to go in the first, and all the momentum remains in favor of the favorites.
Big basket by Cerroni, not because he made it, but also because he got fouled by Averkamp -- the second foul on the Germantown big man. Averkamp takes a seat, Cerroni hits the foul shot and Hamilton now trails, 15-6.
A putback basket by Michael Laubenheimer makes it 17-6, Warhawks.