WRIGHTSTOWN, Wis. (WFRV) – Wisconsin has always had its share of great wrestling programs since the first state tournament in 1940 and Wrightstown high school is back on top of the grappling heap heading into the post-season.
“We’re ready. Our kids have really worked hard. We were pretty good for a long time, we had some good years in the early 2000s, and with these kids coming through they’ve really been working hard. And to get back on the top has been our goal,” said head coach Matt Verbeten. “Last year we fell a little bit short at regionals, so we didn’t get our chance to push through that, but these kids they see the stuff on the walls here, they see the names, they see the awards, so every day that is their goals.”
The regional championships take place this Saturday, Feb. 16, and, right now, four teams from the North Eastern conference are ranked in the top 10 in Division 2, and the Tigers already have dual meet victories over all three of those other teams.
”It feels great especially after beating Freedom and Luxemburg-Casco. They have always been the top teams in the state and they’re in our conference now, so it’s just even bigger now especially since we’ve beaten our big rivals,” said Quincy Klister. Especially because they’re always a tough team every year. Just to be able to go in there and beat them is extremely fun.”
The Tigers have won three state championships in program history with the latest being back-to-back titles in 2005 & 2006, and being ranked number one in Division 2 is something they are not taking for granted.
“Honestly, if we can just keep it rolling like we did all season, we’re training specifically for team wrestling,” said Senior Matt Maitland. “The personal state qualification and championships that comes with it happen on Saturday, but first and foremost we got to make it through regionals as a team. Obviously that’s tournament scoring, so we’re going to need as many guys as we can to place.”
Senior Ben Durocher finished with the silver medal last year after losing in the finals against Two Rivers Joey Bianchi, and he’s hoping his third trip to state will end with him standing atop the podium.
“My goal is to get my name in gold up there this year. I’ve come up short the past two years, so this year I am looking to turn that around differently and win a state championship.”
Wrightstown won all three of their state championships in Division 3, but since moving up to Division 2, the Tigers haven’t made it back to Madison. And this season they plan on changing that trend.
“Every time we go to practice and we look over on that wall and we see who’s next, and come around and look over there and see all of the qualifiers, honestly that’s what I’ve been working for since I was a preschooler,” said Maitland. “Coming up here every day and seeing all those older kids going to state and stuff like that, honestly for me, if we can pull out a state title that would be awesome and end the season on a bang.”