After breaking his thumb last year, Verona senior Caden Page didn’t get a chance to wrestle in the postseason.
Page made up for the missed opportunity by taking second at 170 pounds at the Division 1 Middleton Regional on Saturday, Feb. 15, to qualify for the Verona Sectional.
“It was really tough not being able to wrestle at regionals last year because I really wanted to get to sectionals and possibly to state. I had my season cut short, and to succeed in my last season really means a lot to me.”
The Wildcats will have seven wrestlers at the sectional, including heavyweight regional champion Jay Hanson.
Hanson defeated Madison Memorial’s Patrick McDonald by 6-4 decision in overtime of the championship match, his third win in five matches against McDonald this season.
“I just have to keep going,” Hanson said. “My goal was to dominate. I just had to tire him out, keep in it mentally and keep breaking him down.”
Hanson pinned Madison East’s Angel Tejeda in 3:50 in the semifinals after receiving a first-round bye.
Junior Ben Grandau (126) and sophomores Logan Neuroth (138), Cael Wozniak (145), Spencer Lokken (160) and Adam Murphy (220) also qualified for the sectional. Grandau, Wozniak, Page and Murphy each finished second. Neuroth took third and Lokken placed fourth.
After a first-round bye, Grandau (24-14) pinned DeForest’s Jacob Larson at the 3:59 mark of their semifinal match. semifinal match in 3:59. Waunakee’s Nick Schweitzer pinned Grandau in 49 seconds in the championship match, but Grandau bounced back to pin Middleton’s Walker Hargrove in 4:43 in the second-place match. It marks Grandau’s second straight sectional berth.
After a first-round bye, Wozniak (30-8) pinned Middleton’s Hernan Carranza at the 2-minute mark. Waunakee’s Berhett Statz beat Wozniak by 21-3 technical fall in the championship match.
Wozniak missed qualifying for the sectional by one spot last year.
“I improved over the summer a lot,” he said. “I was weaker than I am this year. I lifted a lot. I have a goal to qualify for state and win a couple of tournaments this year.
“There is also a big mental difference. I know a lot more moves this year and have a lot more positioning in my head.”
Page (23-17) pinned Middleton’s Tyler Mayhew in 1:42 in the quarterfinals and pinned Madison Memorial’s Adam Garland in 1:08 in the semifinals. He lost a 9-1 major decision to Waunakee’s Colton Grindle in the championship.
“I have worked hard the last couple of years and it’s nice to start getting No. 1 matches,” Page said. “It will hopefully improve my seeding for sectionals.”
Murphy (22-21) has made great improvements this season after a 2-22 record as a freshman. He pinned Middleton’s Adham Elshaboury in 53 seconds in the semifinals after a first-round bye, then lost to Madison Memorial’s Gyurme Dakpa 9-4 in the title match.
Murphy wrestled at 195 most of the season, but bumped up to 220 for the postseason.
“My coach looked at the brackets for 195 compared to 220 for sectionals and thought I would have a better chance at 220,” he said.
Neuroth (18-23) pinned Mount Horeb’s Cody Anderson in 2:34 in the quarterfinals before losing by pin in the semifinals to Waunakee’s Braysen Ellis. Neuroth rebounded with a pin of Madison West’s Cayden Byington-Smith in 1:08 in the third-place match.
Lokken (11-21) had one of the longest paths to a sectional berth. He pinned Mount Horeb’s Lorenz Sieber in 57 seconds in the quarterfinals, but lost by pin in the semifinals against DeForest’s Brody Hemauer.
Lokken bounced back from a loss to Madison Memorial’s Pierce Kaufman with a pin of Middleton’s Will Gosspeitch in 4:06 in the fourth-place match.