Cal Hansen has been in this situation before. This time, the sense of urgency is finally setting in.
“I have to make everything perfect,” the Deerfield senior wrestler said. “Go out with a cherry on top.”
Hansen advanced to the WIAA Division 3 state championship for the second consecutive year, dominating Spring Valley/Elmwood senior Seth Schlegel with a 9-0 major decision in the 132-pound semifinal on Friday night at the Kohl Center.
The match didn’t unfold the way Hansen expected, but the reigning state runner-up capitalized on his opportunities and responded with a five-point second period to put the match away.
“I didn’t get to any of my shots, really, because he was pretty offensive,” Hansen said. “My front head locks were there, which are usually never there. I never really score off those, but in that match, I really executed on them.
“I knew in my head that if I got the first take down, it would be over.”
For some, the state tournament is the reward for a season of hard work and sacrifice. But with no more “next year,” Hansen knows the tallest task is still ahead of him.
“I’ve never wanted it more,” Hansen said. “I put in so much work, this year even more than I ever have. This is something I’ve strived for since I was young, dreamt about, and I hope it becomes a reality.”
In Division 2, River Valley sent four wrestlers through to today’s finals. Senior Dustin Hatfield (126 pounds) improved to 40-0 on the season, while junior Zach Licht (132), sophomore Shane Liegel (160) and senior Elijah Alt (170) also advanced to championship matches.
“That just shows all the time the coaches put in toward us wrestlers, how hard we work in the room,” said Alt, who held on for a 6-5 semifinal decision over Neilsville/Greenwood/Loyall sophomore Stephen Buchanan despite a restart with 10 seconds remaining.
“Pushing each other, getting each other better — it definitely shows when you get down here.”
In other Division 2 action involving area athletes, Evansville/Albany senior Lucius Rinehart advanced to the 195-pound championship with a 2-1 tiebreaker victory over Lomira senior Collin Feucht. Fellow Blue Devils senior Chase Katzenmeyer will compete in the consolation semifinals, hoping to earn a shot at third place in the 126-pound class.