He controlled his opponent on the state’s biggest wrestling stage Saturday night.
But the second that task was completed, Evansville/Albany senior Nolan Kicmol couldn’t contain his joy.
Kicmol earned the WIAA Division 2 state championship at 152 pounds with a 10-2 victory over Brodhead/Juda’s Jackson Hauri in an all-Rock Valley Conference final at the Kohl Center.
Kicmol immediately jumped into coach Rob Kostroun’s arms, and then raced into the stands to hug family members. He was still tearing up minutes later, as the frustration of previous second- and third-place finishes at state melted away.
“There is no better feeling,” he said. “Fourteen years of hard work. Every day, just working hard, trying to get better. All the time in the practice room, with such great workout partners and coaches.
“And those losses (at state), they really helped me tonight. I had no nerves out there. I just had to go out there and wrestle, just go out there and score points.”
Kicmol (46-4) was joined in the Division 2 winner’s circle by River Valley’s Shane Liegel (48-0), who completed a dominant run through the 170-pound field by pinning Dillon Martin of Wautoma/Wild Rose (44-5) in 2:51. Liegel, a junior, won the state title at 160 last season.
In other Division 2 finals involving area wrestlers, Jefferson’s Quintin Gehrmann (47-3) fell to Rock Valley rival Tommy Larson of East Troy (47-4) by an 8-3 decision in the 106 title match. At 182, Lodi’s Jacob Heyroth fell 14-4 to Stephen Buchanan of Neillsville/Greenwood/Royal.
Kicmol was facing a familiar foe in the championship match. He pinned Hauri in a Rock Valley dual, but lost to him in overtime in the regional.
This time, Kicmol was focused right from the start. He got a takedown in the first period and didn’t relinquish the lead. He was riding Hauri in the second period and turned him twice for near-falls to take control.
“I normally like working on my feet, but depending on who I’m wrestling, I’m also comfortable riding, too,” said Kicmol, who became the program’s third state champion.
Liegel pinned his three opponents at state in a grand total of 4 minutes, 7 seconds. He became River Valley’s 19th state champion.
“I knew all the hard work would have to pay off sometime,” he said. “I really worked on becoming more aggressive this year, wanting to become more explosive. You get on the attack, good things will usually happen.”
Liegel was very aggressive in the first period, and Buchanan was able to get an early reversal on a counter. But Liegel took a 4-3 lead into the second period and then dominated Buchanan in the second session, getting him into two nearfall situations before recording the pin.
“This is even better (than the 160 title) last year,” Liegel said. “To get a pin in the final was really something.”
The fifth time turned out to be the charm for Larson (47-4), as he downed Gehrmann (47-3), a junior, in the 106 final after going 0-4 against him over the past two seasons. Gehrmann joined his father and uncle in earning a state runner-up spot.
Heyroth (38-3) was holding his own against Buchanan (46-2) in the 182 final until the end of the first period — when in a scramble, the two tumbled at the edge of the mat and Buchanan landed inadvertently on Heyroth’s ribs.
With the wind knocked out of him, Heyroth was allowed a few moments of recovery time. Buchanan dominated the match after that point.
Three wrestlers had the chance to earn their fourth consecutive state titles, after only 14 others had done so in the 75-year history of the event.
Stratford’s A.J. Schoenfuss (45-5) missed out on No. 4, losing 4-3 on a tiebreaker to Jordan Boldt (44-4) of Bonduel in the Division 3 final at 126 pounds.
However, the other two candidates achieved the goal. At 138, Stratford’s Jeremy Schoenherr (36-0) earned a 13-5 major decision over Coleman’s Jake Baldwin (45-6) and Ellsworth’s Sam Stuhl (41-1) pinned Prairie du Chien’s Traeton Saint (51-5) in 5:50 to earn his fourth title.
Locally, River Valley’s Zach Licht (47-3) finished third at 126 and Lodi’s Max Barreau (40-11) was fourth at 160. Also, Lodi’s Garrett Moll (39-5) took fifth at 120, Edgerton’s Cole Bavery (43-5) was fifth at 132, Evansville/Albany’s Branden Lange (43-7) was fifth at 285 and Jefferson’s Dean Neff (46-10) took sixth at 138.