RICHLAND CENTER – Senior Dusty Jentz is heading back to state for the fourth year in a row with one thing and one thing only on his mind– winning a state title.
Jentz (37-1) added another page to his long and illustrious grappling resume by becoming the first wrestler from the Belmont/Platteville co-op to advance to state four times after dominating his way to the 182-pound title at the WIAA Division 2 Individual Sectional Meet held at Richland Center High School on Saturday, Feb. 18.
Jentz, who is already the all-time winningest wrestler in history of his school (Platteville) and the Braves’ co-op with his 164-19 career record, is the first Platteville wrestler to make it to state in all four years of high school since his head coach Dane Droessler completed the feat in 2000-03.
And, like his coach, he is seeking his fourth state medal and he also hopes to join Droessler as a state champion as well.
Jentz finished sixth at 171 as a freshman, second at 152 as a sophomore and third at 171 as a junior in his previous trips to state.
“Dusty is wrestling lights out right now. He is healthy, confident and looking stronger and stronger at the right time of the year,” said Droessler, who won a state title at 103-pounds as a freshman in 2000 and placed second as a sophomore (112) and a senior (125) and third as a junior (119) during his stellar prep career.
Jentz locked up his return trip to Madison by capturing his third career sectional title after outscoring his opponent’s 55-18 in his three matches on Saturday.
He opened his day with a 23-8 technical fall decision over Monroe’s Dusty Burkhalter in the quarterfinals, and then took down Lodi’s Jesse Ziegler by a score of 9-3 in the semifinal round to advance to the finals at 182.
In the championship match, Jentz posted a 23-7 technical fall over Sparta’s Kyle Burkhalter for the title.
“He wrestled under control and with a lot of emotion. He finished the day with a tech fall in the finals, which is something pretty rare at that level of competition,” noted Droessler.
Joining Jentz at state this season will be fellow Platteville senior Adam Niehaus, who earned his first trip to Madison after finishing second on the day at 120-pounds.
Niehaus (36-8) made his way to the finals after posting an 11-4 decision over Sparta’s Brock Polhamus in the quarterfinals and pinning Lodi’s Grant Robertson in 3:05 during their semifinal match.
In the finals, Mauston’s Spencer Davies controlled Niehaus on the way to an 8-0 major decision for the title at 120. Then, the Braves’ senior locked up second-place after Polhamus wrestled back to third.
“Going into the day we knew Adam was going to have to come out that first match ready to rumble. As a senior, he was well aware there wasn’t room to make mistakes coming out of the gates, and he more than responded rallying from behind to win both of his matches,” said Droessler. “Sectionals was definitely the best I’ve seen Adam wrestle and he put himself in great position going into Madison.”
Senior David Stoney (33-8) fell short in his bid to join his teammates at state after finishing fourth on the day at 220-pounds.
D. Stoney, who qualified for sectionals a year ago but did not make weight prior to the competition, came ready to rock on Saturday, opening up with a 1:52 pin over Jefferson’s Brendon Krull to advance to the semis.
However, the Belmont senior got pinned by Viroqua’s Trent Vesbach in 3:50 in his second match to drop back to the wrestleback round.
D. Stoney stuck Brodhead/Juda’s Reave Lincoln in 1:36 in a consolation match to move within a victory of a state berth, but his season and his career came to a close when he got pinned by Adams-Friendship’s Tyler Burrows in 2:37 of the third-place match.
Vesback won the weight class with a 7-3 decision over Monroe’s Trevor Gorr in the finals and Burrows took third in the class.
“Obviously David’s day ended in a disappointing fashion, but in no way have I now or ever been disappointed with David’s efforts. He is a natural leader, a great-student athlete, and just one of the best role models I’ve had the pleasure of being around,” commented Droessler. “
As a coach, I would take a team full of David’s over any team in the state because at the end of the day David is always putting forth the extra effort on and off the mat. I know David is a tough individual and he has so much more to look back and be proud of then one tournament or one match. I am very thankful to have him around the last couple years.”
Stoney closes out his prep career with a 92 wins.
The Braves’ fourth sectional participant, sophomore heavyweight Lucas Stoney, had a short day on Saturday.
L. Stoney (26-13) was pinned by Brodhead/Juda’s Logan Maurer in 3:06 of their 285-pound quarterfinal match, and he never got a chance to wrestleback after Maurer lost in the semifinal round.
“Lucas is a competitor; and, while his day was cut short, I think he got a taste of what it takes to be successful on the mat. With a little hard work in the offseason, Lucas will definitely be a top competitor in the state the next two years. As for this year, he was a top-notch addition with endless amounts of ability,” said Droessler.
The 2012 WIAA Individual State Wrestling Meet will be held at the Kohl Center in Madison on Thursday, Feb. 23, through Saturday, Feb. 25. Preliminary competition for Division 2 will begin at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday evening.
Niehaus will take on St. Croix Falls junior James Klassen (27-11) in a preliminary match at 120. The winner advances to face #4-ranked senior John Roycraft of Winneconne (43-1) in a quarterfinal match on Friday morning.
As a sectional champion, Jentz will not start his tournament until Friday afternoon when he will take on the winner of the preliminary match between St. Croix Central junior Kyle Aaby (27-10) and Luxemburg-Casco junior Jordan Pardowsky (37-14).
The D-2 semifinal round will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday evening and the state finals start at 6 p.m. on Saturday night.