SportsHigh School Sports


'It wasn’t a rebuild, we were just reloading': Kaukauna wrestling eyes fourth straight state title

'It wasn’t a rebuild, we were just reloading': Kaukauna wrestling eyes fourth straight state title
Posted at 10:31 PM, Feb 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-14 23:44:38-05

KAUKAUNA — The Kaukauna wrestling team booked a trip to the state tournament with a sectional final win over Bay Port on Tuesday night. It’s their 15th state tournament appearance in the last 17 seasons and now in a few weeks, they have a chance to win their fourth straight state title just like they did from 2014-2017.

“In the most humble way, it’s not a surprise to us,” said senior Lucas Peters who took home an individual state title last year. “It’s not a surprise if we go out there and win another team state title, that’s just the standard we set for ourselves. You don’t go out there thinking you're going to lose. If you go out there thinking you’re going to lose, you stand no chance. We set our standards high and we shoot to be at the top.”

The Ghosts lost some great wrestlers to graduation last year and the team heard the outside noise about their youth coming into this season.

“A lot of people were saying that we’re in a rebuild and I think it wasn’t a rebuild, we were just reloading,” said sophomore Liam Crook who is ranked No. 1 at 165 lbs.

But the Kaukauna Wrestling program is built to be a powerhouse. Wrestlers coming up in the program can’t wait to wrestle at the varsity level.

“For me to be able to say that this is my spot, it’s a dream come true,” Crook said.

“Since I was in grade school or elementary school,” said freshman Andy DiPiazza, who is ranked No. 2 at 106lbs. "To have this success and be a part of this feels really good.”

And then when they get their shot they take advantage of the opportunity. They have a handful of sophomores and freshmen making a huge impact…

“Every year there’s those guys behind us – those JV guys that are training,” said Peters. “They’re training in the shadows, winning in the dark. Waiting for the big spotlight like this.”

Because of the wrestlers at Kaukauna that came before them, they want to continue to set that standard of being a title contender.

“There’s multiple state title teams at Kaukauna years in the past and you want to follow just like them,” Peters said. “You want to pay homage to those guys and the program they built and pass it down to the guys that are younger than you.”

Their Hall of Fame head coach Jeff Matczak is a big reason for their success.

“He’s the best coach in Wisconsin,” said DiPiazza.

“He brings the energy you need when it’s getting a little quiet. He knows when to turn it up. He knows when to relax. It means everything,” Crook said.

But he says the guys can want to live up to previous title teams, but it’s their job to write the final chapter of their own story….

“You want to draw off that for sure and say that that singlet is worth something when you step out on the mat, but when it really comes down to it, it’s not. You have to create your own legacy and you have to do it,” Matczak said.