Sophomore Ben Grandau finished third at 126 pounds Saturday, Feb. 9, in the WIAA Division 1 Waunakee regional to qualify for the sectional.
It’s good to get at least one guy from the first step to the next step,” co-coach Jason Ott said. “We were hoping we would get some more.”
Grandau (25-12) lost by fall to Sauk Prairie’s Luis Elizondo in 46 seconds in a semifinal match. Grandau assured a sectional berth by pinning Middleton’s John Ndoyi in 2 minutes, 46 seconds.
Ott said Grandau was in control from the start.
“When Ben is at his best he’s on the aggressive,” Ott said. “He’s really good at moving and staying on the attack. He never let the guy get into a rhythm or into his offense.”
Waunakee captured the regional title 256.5-217 over Sauk Prairie. Verona (33) finished last at the eight-team regional. The Warriors advanced to wrestle Holmen in the team sectional on Wednesday, Feb. 13.
Grandau will wrestle in the Division 1 Verona sectional Saturday. The top two wrestlers in each weight class will advance to state.
Both freshman Cael Wozniak (138) and senior Jeremy Grim (170) took fifth and were one spot away from qualifying for the Division 1 Verona sectional.
Ott said Wozniak and Ott at moments wrestled solid, but had aspects they would like to take back from the regional.
Wozniak lost a quarterfinal match to Waunakee’s Kyle Wilcox 11-4. He bounced back in a fifth-place match to pin Madison Memorial’s Noah St. Aubin in 3:01. He then lost a fourth-place match to Middleton’s Jesus Quechol Ramirez by a major decision 15-7.
In a quarterfinal match, Grim rolled to a 10-4 win over Sauk Prairie’s Jo Smet. He was then pinned by Waunakee’s Colton Grindle in a semifinal match in 5:20. Grim lost a third-place match to Madison East’s Armon Myadze on a fall in 5:02. In a fourth-place match, Grim lost a nail-biter to DeForest’s Jake Barske 9-8.
Grim trailed Barske 9-5 late in the third period. He scored on an escape and takedown in the final 20 seconds.
“I think with another 10 to 15 seconds he could have forced overtime,” Ott said.
Freshman Ashton LaBerge (113) went 1-2 in the regional. He pinned Madison West’s Andres Villalobos in 3:04.
The Wildcats had a young team filled with freshman and sophomnores.
“It was a rough year at timers,” he said. “The nice thing about having a young team is all of the experience wrestling varsity matches will give them an idea of what it will take to improve next year. They want to get better. I think it will give them a lot of motivation in the offseason to lift weights and get on the mat to improve.”