MADISON – Dusty Jentz finally took down the big one.
In his fourth and final state tournament appearance, the Belmont/Platteville senior captured the state title that had eluded him throughout his career by using his patented catch-and-release technique to post a dominating 19-7 major decision over Chilton junior Austin Hephner in the Division 2 182-pound championship match at the 2012 WIAA Individual State Meet held at the Kohl Center in Madison on Saturday, Feb. 25.
“It’s hard to explain. I worked my whole life for one thing and when you finally get it in six minutes, it’s hard to describe,” said Jentz after winning the gold in his old-school Hillmen singlet. “It’s hard that its over now, but at the same time I’m glad I finally got my goal.”
Jentz (40-1), who is headed to Iowa State in the fall to continue his wrestling career, advanced to the finals for the second time in his career by beating Luxemburg-Casco’s Jordan Pardowsky (38-16), 12-8, in the quarterfinals, and edging previously unbeaten Marcus Hudson (46-2) of Delavan-Darien, 3-2, in the semifinals at the state meet on Friday.
In the championship match on Saturday night, Jentz opened up a 4-3 lead by the end of the first period and held a 6-4 advantage heading into the third period where he scored 13 points on Hephner (49-3) to cruise to a resounding major decision.
“I think that was fitting for a wrestler like Dusty. He’s known for his takedowns and that’s how he went out,” said Belmont/Platteville head coach Dane Droessler. “I told him to leave everything out on the mat and he did. That’s for sure. What better way to get it than in his senior year.”
Droessler won a 103-pound title as a freshman in 2000, then finished second at 112-pounds in ’01, third at 119-pounds in ’02 and second again at 125-pounds in ’03 to end his career with a 146-9 record.
“Before the finals match, I was more nervous than I used to be when I wrestled. But, with Dusty, you could look at him and know he’s ready. He was ready. He quite a fighter,” commented Droessler.
Jentz surpassed his coach’s victory mark this season to become the winningest wrestler in the history of his school and the Belmont/Platteville co-op at 167-19; and he also matched his coach with four state medals after placing sixth as a freshman at 171-pounds, second as a sophomore at 152-pounds and third as a junior back at 171-pounds.
Jentz is just the second wrestler in the eight-year history of the Belmont/Platteville co-op to win a state title, joining Belmont’s Andrew Eastlick, who won a 171-pound title in 2006.
“I can’t think of a wrestler who deserves it more than he does. Everything he does, he puts extra effort in. Win or lose, he always held his head up high and he always comes out with class. It’s just the way he carries himself as a person,” Droessler noted about his first state champion wrestler as a coach. “For us as a coaching staff, we were just along for the ride. He was the leader up in the practice room and all his teammates looked up to him. He’s busting his butt from Sunday to Sunday, non-stop.”
After getting his hand raised by the referee and a brief celebration with his coaches at the end of his title match, Jentz charged into the stands to be with the people who matter to him most– his family.
“I had to go spend time with my family. My dad coached me from when I was a little pipsqueak in kindergarten,” said Jentz.
Saturday night was a big night for Jentz and his family as another state champion was added to the family tree on the same night his cousin, Cuba City/Southwestern senior Jarod Donar, became the state’s 12th four-time state championship and just the third wrestler to do that while going unbeaten for his prep career. Donar finished high school with a 189-0 record.
“I watched (Jarod) win his, then I had to go warm up,” Jentz explained. “He kept saying that (I) deserve it and that it was (my) time. I started to believe that it was finally my time.”
Belmont/Platteville senior Adam Niehaus also wrapped up his prep wrestling career in Madison over the weekend after going 1-2 on the mats in his first career state appearance.
“He wanted to make it state. That’s what he told me (after sectionals last year). I sat him down and said we’re going to do it. That no matter how hard we have to work, we’re going to do it,” Droessler said. “He came out this year and worked his tail off. He’s a lot stronger and he’s one heck of an athlete. He just got better as the season went on.”
Niehaus (37-10) kicked his tournament off on the right note in the preliminary round on Thursday night, posting a 7-3 decision over St. Croix Falls James Klassen (27-12) in a 120-pound match.
Niehaus dropped a tough 3-0 decision to Winneconne senior John Roycraft (43-2) in the quarterfinal round on Friday morning, then fell by a score of 10-7 to Somerset junior Bobby Leroy (39-8) in a consolation match on Friday afternoon.
“He hung in there with everybody at state. He didn’t give up any back points and he took great shots. He said he was nervous last week, but if he was nervous up here he sure didn’t show it,” said Droessler.
Roycraft advanced to the 120-pound finals before dropping a 9-4 decision to Ashland senior Jack Pearce (49-1) to settle for a second-place finish, while Leroy placed fifth in the class with an 8-6 overtime decision over Sheboygan Falls sophomore Alex Fitzgerald (34-14).
“I have had a lot of coaches come up to me and tell me that Adam looks like a changed wrestler,” said Droessler.
Niehaus finishes his prep career with a 107-57 overall record.
WIAA Division 2
(from Saturday, Feb. 23-25 @ the Kohl Center in Madison)
Belmont/Platteville state qualifiers
D2-120 - Adam Niehaus’s place is unknown and has scored 2.00 team points.
Champ. Round 1 - Adam Niehaus (Belmont/Platteville) 37-10 won by decision over James Klassen (Saint Croix Falls) 27-12 (Dec 7-3)
Quarterfinal - John Roycraft (Winneconne) 43-2 won by decision over Adam Niehaus (Belmont/Platteville) 37-10 (Dec 3-0)
Cons. Round 1 - Bobby Leroy (Somerset) 39-8 won by decision over Adam Niehaus (Belmont/Platteville) 37-10 (Dec 10-7)
D2-182 - Dusty Jentz’s place is 1st and has scored 21.00 team points.
Quarterfinal - Dusty Jentz (Belmont/Platteville) 40-1 won by decision over Jordan Pardowsky (Luxemburg-Casco) 38-16 (Dec 12-8)
Semifinal - Dusty Jentz (Belmont/Platteville) 40-1 won by decision over Marcus Hudson (Delavan-Darien) 46-2 (Dec 3-2)
1st Place Match - Dusty Jentz (Belmont/Platteville) 40-1 won by major decision over Austin Hephner (Chilton) 49-3 (Maj 19-7)