Eight Oregon wrestlers qualified for the Division 1 Oconomowoc Sectional with the dream of advancing to the state tournament, but only one broke through.
Freshman Owen Heiser qualified for state with a second-place finish at 145 pounds on Saturday, Feb. 22.
“He had a great week of practice and listened to everything we told him,” Oregon coach Ned Lease said of Heiser. “He never made any excuses, even when he definitely could have.”
Heiser (31-9) pinned Milton’s Seth Haldiman in 3:42 to start the sectional, then won by 10-8 decision in double overtime against Delavan-Darien’s Cole Hanson to advance to the championship match.
“I just tried to keep working and not give up,” Heiser said. “I knew if I kept pushing the pace, (Hanson would) fold.”
Heiser lost by 17-1 technical fall against Stoughton’s Gavin Model in the first-place match, but secured second after Hanson won his semifinal wrestleback.
Heiser, the only freshman to qualify for state at 145, will face Burlington senior Max Ehlen (35-6) in the first round Thursday, Feb. 27, at the Kohl Center in Madison. The first round begins at 3 p.m.
The Oregon freshman said his goal is to win his first two matches, which would guarantee him a medal and at worst a sixth-place finish.
“What makes Owen dangerous is his tilt, which most guys can’t handle, and his feet,” Lease said. “Those two things can take you far in the state tournament.”
The Panthers’ Brandon Liddle (126) and Seth Niday (152) finished one spot away from state qualification.
Liddle (30-15) beat Janesville Parker’s Drexel Norman by 4-1 decision, then lost to Milton’s Hunter Klieliszewski 6-2. He scored the final six points in the third period to beat Sun Prairie’s Anthony Welch 9-4 in the semifinal wrestleback, but got caught and pinned in 55 seconds by Madison La Follette’s Dominic Flores in the second-place match.
Niday (31-11) pinned Elkhorn/Faith Christian’s Quentin Woyak in 1:28, but was pinned by Stoughton’s Luke Mechler. He beat Milton’s Justin Sanchez 4-1 in the semifinal wrestleback, but suffered a concussion 10 seconds into his second-place match against Monona Grove/McFarland’s Zachary Gunderson and lost by 17-2 tech fall.
Oregon senior Nate Hall (195) lost a marathon 12-10 decision to Beloit Memorial’s Tyler Sireci in the first round.
Cooper King (160), Karl Brooks (170) and Tyler Wald (182) lost their first-round matches by pin. Michael Schliem (25-5) did not make weight at 138.