MADISON - The third time was definitely a charm for Iowa-Grant’s Blake Welu.
After losing back-to-back weeks to Mineral Point’s Robbie Chubb, at both regionals and sectional, it was Welu who won the third and most important meeting between the two Southwestern Wisconsin Activities League rivals in Saturday’s night WIAA Division 3 182-pound state championship match.
Despite his recent setbacks against Chubb, the Iowa-Grant senior was aggressive from the very beginning of Saturday’s championship match en route to a 5-1 decision over the previously once-beaten Chubb (40-2).
“He’s a great wrestler and he beat me the first two times. I don’t have excuses. He’s tough, but I came here (to state) ready to wrestle. I worked hard for this,” said Welu following his championship victory. “There is nothing like it. This is the greatest feeling I’ve ever had. It’s incredible.
Welu, who finished his final prep season 42-4, opened his championship run with a 19-3 technical victory over Martin Luther’s Brandon Biskupski in Thursday night’s opening round.
He then beat Boyceville’s Brett Blaser 11-2 in the Friday afternoon quarterfinals and pinned Coleman’s Lucas Markiewicz early in the second period of Friday night’s semifinals.
“Blake wrestled very well all weekend,” said Iowa-Grant head coach Ryan Allen. He really was dominant through the whole tournament. Coming into this weekend he was 0-2 against Chubb but I think Blake knew he could win the big one Saturday night if he just wrestled hard for six minutes and didn’t let up. And that’s exactly what he did. He stayed on the attack even after getting a lead and kept building on it.”
Fellow I-G senior Logan Bollant’s final individual state tournament was more disappointment than celebration.
After advancing to Friday’s 170-pound semifinals with back-to-back decisions over Bonduel’s Taylor Kelly, 8-2, and Lomira’s Ethan Cook, 5-0, Bollant suffered a tough 5-4 loss to eventual runner-up Jordyn Schaal of Coleman.
Bollant (41-7) defeated Prescott’s Matt Pechacek, 3-2, in the consolation bracket, but suffered a 3-0 decision to De Soto’s Quinten Strand in the third-place place. Bollant finished fourth.
“Logan is a great kid who has worked hard all year,” added Coach Allen. “I know Logan wasn’t satisfied with his finish up there, but he fought hard and will get another shot at the Coleman kid who beat him on Saturday at team state.”
Iowa-Grant will wrestle top-ranked and defending state champion Coleman this Saturday at 1 p.m. at the UW Fieldhouse in the WIAA Division 3 Team State semifinals.
Brandon Pierick and Jacob Yelinek also competed in their final individual state tournament.
Pierick (30-5) went 3-2 and finished fifth at 160 pounds after an 8-3 overtime victory over Spring Valley/Elmwood’s Brian Fesenmaier.
Yelinek (37-16) won his first-round match at 145 pounds, but bowed out of the tournament with back-to-back losses. Junior Derek Peat (31-15) suffered a similar fate at 189 pounds.
Juniors Tucker Sarbacker (32-14, 132 pounds) and Ben McFall (31-13, 285) were eliminated from the tournament with first-round losses on Thursday night.
WIAA Division 3
(from Saturday, Feb. 23-25 @ the Kohl Center in Madison)
Iowa-Grant state qualifiers
D3-132 - Tucker Sarbacker’s place is unknown and has scored 0.00 team points.
Champ. Round 1 - Ethan Brouillette (Ozaukee) 38-13 won by major decision over Tucker Sarbacker (Iowa-Grant) 32-14 (Maj 16-8)
D3-145 - Jacob Yelinek’s place is unknown and has scored 3.00 team points.
Champ. Round 1 - Jacob Yelinek (Iowa-Grant) 37-16 won by major decision over Trevor Potratz (Weyau-Fre.) 24-6 (Maj 16-6)
Quarterfinal - Ryan Behnke (Bruce) 40-7 won by decision over Jacob Yelinek (Iowa-Grant) 37-16 (Dec 2-0)
Cons. Round 1 - Dillon Flock (Cashton) 46-9 won by decision over Jacob Yelinek (Iowa-Grant) 37-16 (Dec 7-1)
D3-160 - Brandon Pierick’s place is 5th and has scored 8.00 team points.
Champ. Round 1 - Brandon Pierick (Iowa-Grant) 30-5 won by decision over Ben Marusak (Boyceville) 34-16 (Dec 8-3)
Quarterfinal - Mike Mergener (Coleman) 39-7 won by pin over Brandon Pierick (Iowa-Grant) 30-5 (Pin 3:44)
Cons. Round 1 - Brandon Pierick (Iowa-Grant) 30-5 won by decision over Taylor Sina (Princeton) 20-6 (Dec 9-5)
Cons. Semi - Matt Nowak (Edgar) 40-5 won by major decision over Brandon Pierick (Iowa-Grant) 30-5 (Maj 12-2)
5th Place Match - Brandon Pierick (Iowa-Grant) 30-5 won in overtime over Brian Fesenmaier (Spring Valley/Elmw.) 41-11 (OT 8-3)
D3-170 - Logan Bollant’s place is 4th and has scored 12.00 team points.
Champ. Round 1 - Logan Bollant (Iowa-Grant) 41-7 won by decision over Taylor Kelley (Bonduel) 33-10 (Dec 8-2)
Quarterfinal - Logan Bollant (Iowa-Grant) 41-7 won by decision over Ethan Cook (Lomira) 41-5 (Dec 5-0)
Semifinal - Jordyn Schaal (Coleman) 39-10 won by decision over Logan Bollant (Iowa-Grant) 41-7 (Dec 5-4)
Cons. Semi - Logan Bollant (Iowa-Grant) 41-7 won by decision over Matt Pechacek (Prescott) 31-9 (Dec 3-2)
3rd Place Match - Quinten Strand (De Soto) 45-2 won by decision over Logan Bollant (Iowa-Grant) 41-7 (Dec 3-0)
D3-182 - Blake Welu’s place is 1st and has scored 26.50 team points.
Champ. Round 1 - Blake Welu (Iowa-Grant) 42-4 won by tech fall over Brandon Biskupski (Martin Luther) 35-8 (TF 19-3)
Quarterfinal - Blake Welu (Iowa-Grant) 42-4 won by major decision over Brett Blaser (Boyceville) 43-7 (Maj 11-2)
Semifinal - Blake Welu (Iowa-Grant) 42-4 won by pin over Lucas Markiewicz (Coleman) 37-10 (Pin 2:35)
1st Place Match - Blake Welu (Iowa-Grant) 42-4 won by decision over Robby Chubb (Mineral Point) 40-2 (Dec 5-1)
D3-195 - Derek Peat’s place is unknown and has scored 2.00 team points.
Champ. Round 1 - Derek Peat (Iowa-Grant) 31-15 won by decision over Derek Berrier (Clear Lake) 37-9 (Dec 7-5)
Quarterfinal - Isaac Nowak (Coleman) 43-2 won by decision over Derek Peat (Iowa-Grant) 31-15 (Dec 7-3)
Cons. Round 1 - Robert Semanko (Cadott) 38-14 won by decision over Derek Peat (Iowa-Grant) 31-15 (Dec 3-1)
D3-285 - Ben McFall’s place is unknown and has scored 0.00 team points.
Champ. Round 1 - Brad DenBoer (Oostburg) 40-7 won by decision over Ben McFall (Iowa-Grant) 31-13 (Dec 9-5)