With the WIAA changing its format for the wrestling postseason, it became much tougher for an athlete to qualify for state. In a normal year, 16 wrestlers advance to state in Division 1, but that was cut in half this season.
With more teams added to each sectional, it created stacked brackets, some of which included six or seven ranked wrestlers.
DeForest junior 170-pounder Brody Hemauer faced a tough challenge on his road back to the state tournament. His bracket at the Mukwonago Sectional included six ranked wrestlers.
Hemauer suffered his first loss of the season, but punched his ticket to state for a third time after placing second.
The runner-up finish by Hemauer helped DeForest rack up 19 points to place 19th at the sectional.
Defending state champion Stoughton claimed the sectional title with 190.5 points, while Waunakee was second with 122. Both teams advanced to the state team tournament. It is the first time the Warriors have advanced to state as a team.
Hemauer, who came in ranked second, opened the day against Waukesha West’s Devon Townsend, who was an honorable mention pick in the rankings. Hemauer came away with a fall in 1 minute, 40 seconds.
Hemauer faced a big challenge in the semifinals against third-ranked Cole Hansen of Mukwonago. Hemauer trailed late in the match when he threw Hansen to his back and earned the fall with one second remaining.
In the finals, top-ranked and defending state champion Noah Mulvaney of Arrowhead handed Hemauer his first loss of the season. Mulvaney rolled to a 14-3 victory.
Hemauer (11-1) will face Waterford’s Evan Donowski (12-1) in the first round at the state tournament. Holmen’s Carter Vetsch (15-1) and Kaukauna’s Griffin Bekish (15-1) are also on his side of the bracket.
Sophomore 132 Luke Barske joined Hemauer at the sectional, but he lost both of his matches and did not place.
Barske dropped a 2-1 heartbreaker to Baraboo’s Connor Goorsky in the quarterfinals. Then in the consolation round, Barske was pinned by Arrowhead’s Nate Druckrey in 48 seconds.
Barske finished the season with a 5-7 record.
The list of sectional champions on Saturday included Pewaukee’s Andrew Martin (106), Elkhorn’s Joey Showalter (113), Oconomowoc’s Quintin Wolbert (120), Waunakee’s Kolby Heinz (126) and Sam Lorenz (138), Stoughton’s Nicolar Rivera (132), Luke Mechler (160), Rudy Detweiler (195), Brooks Empey (220) and Griffin Empey (285), Mukwonago’s Zach Eliszewski (145), Arrowhead’s Mitchell Mesenbrink (152) and Baraboo’s John Gunderson (182).
Because of restrictions, the WIAA Division 1 state tournament has been moved from the Kohl Center in Madison to Kaukauna High School. The first round will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday.