Joe Ziolkowski (D.C. Everest), Travis Hettinga (Wausau West), Braxton Potrykus (Wittenberg-Birnamwood), Tyler Schmidt (Merrill), and Dondrick Tackes (Stratford) all earned individual state wrestling titles in Saturday's final day of the WIAA wrestling competition.
The one match that was on everyone's radar all weekend at the Kohl Center was in the Division 1 160-pound weight class. That's where Wisconsin Valley rivals Travis Hettinga of Wausau West and Mason Reinhardt of Merrill, the top two seeds in their weight class, faced off for the fifth time this season.
It went back and forth for a while, but by the strength of three takedowns, Hettinga pulled away, earning a 6-3 decision and a Division 1 state championship.
"I just knew, I had this goal of being a state champ since I was a little guy," said Hettinga. "You know, and just knowing that I had to set the tone when I got there, I knew I had to capitalize."
Despite qualifying in all of his four years at Wausau West, this is Hettinga's first state title. The senior says his third place finish last year and fourth place finish his junior year added fuel to the fire.
"It got me motivated to come back this year and just give it all I got. I worked hard in the offesason, and I just knew, just watching the state finals last season, that I was gonna be here. Nobody's gonna stop me."
D.C. Everest's Joe Ziolkowski is also coming home with a Division 1 state championship. The junior fell behind 2-0 in the first period of his 145-pound final, but rallied back to win by a 7-2 split decision.
Merrill's Tyler Schmidt ended his individual high school career by defending his 220-pound state title from last season. The senior Bluejay won a 11-2 major decision over Kenosha Bradford's La`Ryan Johnson. Schmidt will be back in Madison next weekend to help Merrill try to win a Division 1 team title.
In Division 2's 152-pound weight class, there was another match featuring two wrestlers from area teams. Wittenberg-Birnamwood's Braxton Potrykus defeated Bryce Bonnell of Wautoma/Wild Rose by a 5-2 decision. Potrykus will also compete in Madison next weeked in hopes of earning Wittenberg-Birnamwood a Divsion 2 championship at the team state competition.
In Division 3, Stratford senior Dondrick Tackes earned a 195-pound state title with a 6-3 decision over Random Lake's Nick Klein.
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