Lodi senior 182-pounder Jacob Heyroth has earned the chance to finish things off on the right note for his high school wrestling career.
The Associated Press’ state player of the year in football didn’t make the WIAA state wrestling tournament his junior year, after being disqualified for a slam in the sectional. His sophomore year, he just missed placing at state.
Now, he’s one step away from a coveted state title.
On Friday night, he beat Whitewater’s Jimmy DuVal 11-4 in a semifinal of the Division 2 individual tournament at the Kohl Center.
He will face Stephen Buchanan of Neillsville (45-2) for the WIAA crown in the finals, which follow the March of Champions, which is set for 5 p.m.
“For sure, there would be nothing better than coming away with a state title,” said Heyroth (38-2), the only one of Lodi’s four state qualifiers to make it to the final.
“I have a strong senior mentality right now. I just don’t want to lose.”
He would make a little history.
Lodi’s most recent state finalist was current Blue Devils coach, Cody Endres, back in 2010.
Area programs produced three other Division 2 finalists:
• Quintin Gehrmann of Jefferson (47-2), who pinned Jared Stricker of Ashland in 2 minutes, 55 seconds in a semifinal.
• Defending state 160-pound champion Shane Liegel of River Valley (47-0), who is trying to win the 170-pound crown and needed only 34 seconds to pin Freedom’s Dakota Brockman in a semifinal.
• And Evansville/Albany 152-pounder Nolan Kicmol (45-4), who took a 3-2 victory over Jarrett Dolata of Mauston.
Heyroth will take a lot of momentum heading into the final after dominating DuVal from the start.
“I was just trying to keep it simple, just try to get the win,” he said. “This feels amazing. All the hard work is paying off.
“There’s nothing like being in The Show,” he said, laughing.
Gehrmann is ready to make some history, too. He looks to become Jefferson’s first wrestling champion. He pinned Ashland’s previously unbeaten Jared Stricker in just 2:55 in the semifinals.
He’s currently tied for the best state wrestling finish in school history with his father, Adam, and his uncle, Tim. Each earned runner-up slots for Jefferson.
“So there’s a little bit of pressure on me,” he said, laughing, “but this is just awesome, the best moment of my life.
“I was a little surprised that this (winning the semifinal) was this easy. I thought he’d be a little more of a technical wrestler.”
Liegel pinned his way through two rounds at state to earn another shot at a championship.
He took just 34 seconds to dispatch Freedom’s Dakota Brockman in the semifinal.
Liegel will face Wautoma’s Dillon Martin (44-4) in the final.
“I don’t feel a lot of pressure,” he said. “I’m feeling good. I just want to keep working hard every day and hope it all pays off. I believe I’m prepared to take it all.”
Kicmol has been staring up at the top of the Division 2 podium for the past two years, having finished third at 145 last year after earning runner-up as a sophomore.
On Friday, he turned in two wins and earned his finals slot with a 3-2 decision over Dolata in the semis.
“I really credit my teammates for making me better,” Kicmol said. “They’ve pushed me more than ever in practice and now I feel I’m wrestling better than I ever have.”
Zach Licht of River Valley fell in a semifinal at 126, and Cole Bavery of Edgerton lost in a semifinal at 132.
No area Division 3 wrestlers earned a finals berth. Three lost in semifinal action: Weston Wichman (7-1) of Johnson Creek, Riley Workman (39-7) of Mineral Point and Justin Chadwick (51-6) of Marshall.