The path to the Kohl Center in Madison and a possible state championship begins Saturday at Greenfield High School for Whitnall, Greenfield and six other high school wrestling teams. Teams and individuals will be competing to advance to the WIAA sectional tournaments.
The team winning the Greenfield event advances to the team sectional at Brookfield Central Tuesday, and the winner there earns a trip to the state team tournament March 1-2. The top four finishers in each weight class Saturday move on to the individual sectional next Saturday at Waukesha West. The winner and runner-up in that tournament qualify for the state individual tournament February 21-23 at UW-Madison's Kohl Center.
In addition to Greenfield and Whitnall, Woodland Conference teams at the Greenfield tourney include New Berlin and Greendale/Thomas More. Completing the field are Milwaukee Hamilton and the three teams expected to compete for the championship: Mukwonago, Muskego and Waterford.
Pairings won't be announced until after weigh-ins Saturday morning, and coaching strategy will play a major part. As Whitnall coach John Quinlan points out, teams that have a shot at advancing to the team sectional and state tournaments are likely to field a lineup based on how a team will match up against its likely opponents. Teams that aren't in the hunt for the team title will focus on placing individuals in the weight classes where they are most likely to advance to the sectionals and beyond.
Which way to focus isn't a difficult choice for Quinlan, who doesn't see his Falcons contending for team honors "unless we wrestle so far above our heads we all get nosebleeds," he said. So he and co-head coach Craig Austin are developing a lineup aimed at maximizing the number of wrestlers who qualify for what's expected to be a difficult sectional at Waukesha West.
"That's the one that counts," Quinlan said, "but you want to wrestle well in the regionals to get yourself in the best possible position for the sectionals."
Wrestling gets under way at 10:00 am.
- Two Whitnall wrestlers were on the 106-pound podium at Wednesday's Woodland Conference junior varsity tournament. Jordan Reiner won the division while teammate Jared Besler finished third. Whitnall's Seth Nowak won the 113-pound title. The team, with only nine wrestlers entered, finished fifth behind Pewaukee, Greenfield, Wauwatosa and South Milwaukee. Check out Julie Swanson has tourney photos.
- Several Whitnall wrestlers could reach the 30-win plateau this weekend. Ethan Harycki (29), Michael Langenohl (28), Blake Leslie (28), Ryan Olson (26) and Joe Price (26) hope to join teammates Anthony Senthavisouk, Zach Barnhart and Nick Monty, who have already accomplished that goal.