GREEN BAY, Wis. - Four Galloping Ghosts won their weight classes on their way to the WIAA individual state wrestling tournament in Madison after dominant performances at the sectional finals held at Green Bay Preble High School Saturday.
But the road wasn't easy, even for 285-pound No. 1 Keaton Kluever.
"This is a lot tougher actually," Kluever said of the sectional competition. "We got switched into this sectional last year so it's a lot tougher. We have a good amount of kids going, but usually we send about seven, eight, but this year we're sending about five, six, so it's still nice. Our guys we're going down with, I mean, we're going to play, so everybody who's down there, after being battle tested in this sectional, we're gonna get after it and go place at state and win state titles."
The sectional championships were capped off with a huge pin by Kluever, who secured his fourth individual state berth.
"It's really exciting. I mean I get to go back another time, go for the ultimate goal of winning a state title so that's exciting," he said. "I did what I needed to do: Get on the mat and get off."
His experience with three state finals under his belt makes this year's mission even clearer: Win another state title.
"I'm ready to go. I know what to expect going down to the Kohl Center. I mean, (it's my) fourth year down there, so I'm definitely ready. I know what to expect. I'm not a scared freshman anymore. I know what I need to do to win a state title so I plan to do that again."
Durability through a long season has aided many Galloping Ghosts pursuing state titles. Zach Lee, ranked third in Wisconsin in the 152 weight class, advanced Saturday with a pin over Preble's Kade Cummings 57 seconds into their match.
"Last year I definitely shut down around this time. Right now, I feel like I'm better than ever. Especially with the weight cut, it's not hard at all anymore for me. I just feel like 100 percent lately," Lee said. "I knew if I went out there and just did my thing, I knew I could win this match. Getting a pin, it was big. It helps the team and everything. Plus it just boosts my confidence in myself."
No. 1 in state in the 113 weight class, Hortonville's Eric Barnett is also advancing to the state finals after defeating Ashwaubenon's Noah Leisgang 5-1. Barnett heads to Madison with a 42-0 record on the season, a perfect mark to which he attributes improved endurance.
"One thing that I have that I didn't last year is I'm ready to go six minutes, no matter who it is," Barnett said. "Last year, I kind of got gassed out in my finals match and that was a problem that I kind of fixed, and like out on that match (today), I didn't get tired at all. I was ready to go all six minutes and more time if I had to."
Here are the winners from the D1 Preble wrestling sectional:
106: Cody Minor (Ashwaubenon) 113: Eric Barnett (Hortonville)
120: Cole Gille (Pulaski)
126: Fernando Coronado (Ashwaubenon)
132: Brandon Micksch (Kaukauna)
138: Zach Scharenbrock (Appleton East)
145: Max Bruss (De Pere)
152: Zach Lee (Kaukauna)
160: Evan Frisque (West De Pere)
170: Sam Tourtilott (Shawano Community)
182: Bryson Alsteen (Kaukauna)
195: Alex Mischka (Kimberly)
220: Brock Danielski (Appleton North)
285: Keaton Kluever (Kaukauna)