Third finals appearance the charm for Hortonville's Skebba; Stoffel makes history for Appleton North
MADISON − Wyatt Skebba didn't flinch Saturday when faced with a final opportunity to secure a state wrestling championship.
The Hortonville senior held a precarious one-point lead against Menomonie's Brayten Casey late in the third period and was able to escape with a 4-3 victory to win the 113-pound title in Division 1 at the WIAA individual state championships at the Kohl Center.
"I knew it was tight," Skebba said. "I thought to myself, 'I’ve been in that situation a lot, I have a lot of experience.' I wasn’t worried or anything. I knew I had to stay in good position and hold out the win without giving up a stalling call."
Skebba's title was one of six championships won by area wrestlers Saturday including Kaukauna's Lucas Peters (D1, 126) and Greyson Clark (D1, 138), Freedom's Nate Vande Hey (D2, 145), Appleton North's Jake Stoffel (D1, 152) and New London's Hailie Krueger (Girls, 145).
Hortonville coach Chris Gennrich said Skebba was ready for anything his opponent would throw at him Saturday.
"Sometimes you got to win the match a couple of different ways and he’s trained for it," Gennrich said. "And it’s really weird. Guys that know me and my coaching staff, I’m normally a nervous ball of nerves. That's just me, and it was really weird today. I wasn't nervous. I was dead calm. This is his third time in the finals and we knew we needed to get one. I had total faith in him. He’s done all the work and he’s done everything I’ve asked of him for a long time. He earned it. Nothing was going to deny him."
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Skebba said his state title is the result of the supreme effort he put into his craft.
"It’s all the years of hard work and failures that have happened along the way," he said. "I'm just so happy right now. I've worked so hard and overcome a lot in my high school career. I’m really happy that it ended this way and reached my goal."
Jake Stoffel became the first Appleton North wrestler to win a state title following his 5-3 victory over Marshfield's Caleb Dennee in the D1 152 title match.
"I’m amazed and I just can’t believe that I’ve done it," Stoffel said. "I've been doing this since I was 3 and it’s been a dream of mine and I have another year and I can accomplish it again."
Appleton West's McQuade brothers — Ryan and Shane — were the only Appleton public school state wrestling champs, a list North head coach Scott Clough is happy to see Stoffel join.
"There’s been a lot of great wrestlers that have gone through all three Appleton schools," Clough said, "but very few have reached this pinnacle and Jake is our first one, so it’s awesome.
"(Stoffel and teammate Brock Arndt) are great leaders and they lead by example in the room. And they're great role models for our young wrestlers and hopefully we have a lot of little Appleton North wrestlers watching tonight."
Nathan Krueger's smile gave away how proud he was of his daughter, Hailie, following her 13-9 victory over Cuba City's Chloe LaRue in the girls 145 championship match.
"I’m just so proud of her," the New London wrestling coach said. "She works so hard in the room and people don’t see all the hours that she puts in and all the time and effort that she puts in. As a dad, man, I couldn’t have been prouder of how she battled for six minutes and that was awesome."
Hailie also won the 145 crown last season and the sophomore has a shot at state titles her junior and senior seasons.
"I'm still in shock," she said. "I'm just so proud of myself. At the end I just knew I could do it. I had to just keep pushing to get her over and get those points."
Nathan said Hailie has been a "great supporter of girls wrestling" in the community.
"She contributes to our club and she’s an official too," he said. "She’s getting herself out there where people are seeing her in the community. She’s one of the hardest-working kids that we have in our room. She’s a phenomenal advocate for our school."
A little pre-match conversation with his coach Brad Baker went a long way for Freedom's Nathan Vande Hey.
The Irish senior overcame some early jitters to secure the Division 2 145-pound title with a 7-1 victory over Luxemburg-Casco's Max Ronsman.
"I was a little nervous but (Baker) told me to stay calm before the match," Vande Hey said. "And I know I wrestle way better relaxed, so I just try to relax and go and do it and it worked out well for me."
Baker said his confidence with Vande Hey was fashioned by his relationship with him in youth wrestling.
"I’ve been with Nate since fifth grade and I never coached anyone who works as hard and puts as much time into the sport as he does," Baker said. "To see it pay off means the world to our program, for sure for him."
Vande Hey was happy to see his high school wrestling journey end with the gold.
"(Winning a state title) has been my goal the past three years," he said. "I fell short the past two years and this year I got it. It’s amazing all the hard work I put in and I finally reached my goal."
Neenah's Jacob Herm (D1, 126), Kaukauna's Bryan Winans (D1, 132), Appleton North's Brock Arndt (D1, 220), Brillion's Logan Mueller (D2, 106), Winneconne's Brody Hart (D2, 138), Wrightstown's Nick Alexander (D2, 152), Menasha's Lillie Banks (Girls, 126) and Clintonville's Keela Deering (Girls, 185) dropped their respective championship matches.
Herm's was especially tough, with fellow Fox Valley Association rival Lucas Peters of Kaukauna holding on to the 11-9 victory. It was the second consecutive championship loss for Herm, a sophomore.
"He’s doing a lot of the right things," Neenah head coach Kyle Kleuskens said. "I’m holding his journal that he wrote in every day after practice and brought it out to the finals. All he needs to know is here in his own mind. He’s going to get some of those titles without a doubt. He does the right things off the mat and in the classroom and on the mat. He’ll be back practicing tomorrow somewhere. He loves the sport. He can’t let a match define him. He's going to find a way to get his hand raised in this environment in the future."
Arndt (33-2) fell to undefeated Milton standout Aeoden Sinclair 12-6, but the junior has a bright future along with teammate Stoffel, according to Clough.
"He’s disappointed for sure and Brock is the ultimate competitor and anything he does, he will not take a back seat to anyone even someone as great as his opponent tonight," Clough said. "He’s just an ultimate competitor. He’ll use it as motivation."
Clintonville coach Nick Winkler said Deering placing second at the state tournament is an important step in her development.
"I think anytime a sophomore can get into a tournament like this and do what she’s done, that’s huge," he said. "I see the work that she puts in and I think she’s going to continue to do more and more and more and get better and better. I don’t think this is the last time you’re going to see her. I think she’ll be a little higher on the podium the next time you see her. Very proud of what she’s done and she deserves this moment. It’s pretty special."
Nine area wrestlers won their third-place matches Saturday, led by Neenah's Declan Koch, who pinned Bay Port's Alois Schlumpf in 1:52 at 113 in D1 and teammate Eric Schaufelberger, who got a major decision over De Pere's Brennan Kincade at 195.
Also in D1, Kimberly's Karsen Otis beat Stevens Point's T.J. Schierl at 152 and Kaukauna's Judah Hammen beat Nicolet's Benjamin Ott, 7-2, at 170.
Freedom's Tucker Brockman (160) and Jack Van Rossum (170) were third-place finishers in D2. Brockman beat Two Rivers' Justin Klinkner 3-1 with Van Rossum beating Ellsworth's Louis Jahnke 8-3.
Weyauwega-Fremont's Vanden Hoffman pinned Kewaunee's Ezra Ducat to finish third at 220 in D3.
In girls competition, Seymour's Ava Peters pinned Glenwood City's Savanna Millermon in 1:36 at 107 with Brillion's Sophia Galoff pinning Tomah's Zandrea Mason in 40 seconds at 132.
Falling in their third-place match and finishing fourth were New London's Wyatt Magolski (D2, 113), Seymour's Ryan Tomazevic (D2, 138), Brillion's Damon Schmidt (D2, 220) and Freedom's Hunter Vander Heiden (D2, 285).
Five area wrestlers placed fifth Saturday: Kaukauna's Liam Crook (D1, 160), Brillion's Bob Huntley (D2, 120), Winneconne's Ayden Hart (D2, 145), Shiocton's Blake Carton (D3, 138) and Menasha's Brianna Derouin (Girls, 107).
Finishing sixth were Chilton/Hilbert's Logan See (D2, 285), Shiocton's Izaiah Sanchez (D3, 113) and Brad Demerath (D3, 170), Neenah's Kylee Kurszewski (Girls, 114), and Chilton/Hilbert girls wrestlers Samantha Meyer (165) and Gwen Breckheimer (185).CONTINUE YOUR SUPPORT: Thanks to our subscribers for making this coverage possible. Be sure to download our app on the Twitter | Instagram | Newsletters
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