After missing last year with torn cartilage in his hip, Verona heavyweight Jay Hanson continued his breakout sophomore season by qualifying for the Division 1 state tournament.

Hanson (40-7), ranked ninth in the Division 1 by WiWrestling.com, pinned Sauk Prairie’s Austin Rider at the 2:52 mark of their second-place match at the Verona Sectional on Saturday, Feb. 22, to secure his spot at state.

“At first, I wasn’t sure how I would do this year,” Hanson said. “I kept on my grind and noticed I was succeeding more and more.”

Hanson clipped Onalaska/Luther’s Damion Tracy by 5-3 decision in the quarterfinals, then lost to Tomah’s Hayden Larson 7-0 in the championship semifinals. Hanson pinned Reedsburg’s David Finkel in 1:43 in the semifinal wrestleback to earn a shot at second place.

“We are used to having multiple kids at state,” Verona coach Bob Wozniak said. “We have had a little bit of a drought. It’s good to have someone back. He’s been dominant all season.”

Verona junior Ben Grandau (126) and senior Caden Page (170) each took fourth place.

Grandau (25-16) edged La Crosse Logan/Central’s Daylin Haney 13-10 to start his day, but lost by pin to Holmen’s Branson Beers and Waunakee’s Nick Schweitzer.

“He made it one step further than last year by winning his first-round sectional match,” Wozniak said of Grandau. “I think he can make it to state next year.”

Page (24-19) slipped by Holmen’s Armandin Ranaivoson 9-6 in the quarterfinals, but lost by pin to Tomah’s Marques Fritsche and Baraboo’s Aiden Estes.

“You have to wrestle your best and Caden had his chances,” Wozniak said. “He improved every year as a wrestler. I’m proud of him.”

Sophomores Logan Neuroth (138), Cael Wozniak (145), Spencer Lokken (160) and Adam Murphy (220) each lost in the quarterfinals.

Wozniak (30-9) lost to La Crosse Logan/Central’s Dylan Ellefson 8-1. Neuroth (18-23), Lokken (11-22) and Murphy (22-22) each lost by pin.

“We expect our five sophomores to come back and qualify for the sectional again next year and get more guys to state,” Bob Wozniak said. “It’s a bright future for us.”

State preview

Hanson will wrestle Merrill senior Zach Iribarren (44-2), ranked fifth in the state.

Wozniak will give Hanson a scouting report about what he needs to prepare for and what moves he has to counter against Iribarren.

“I will go out and wrestle as hard as I can and make it as far as I can,” Hanson said. “I think the key for me is to keep in it mentally, keep going and not get down on myself.”

Hanson could earn a quarterfinal match against second-ranked Max Meeuwsen (42-1) of Bay Port if he can pull the first-round upset.