Kevin Meicher photo

Heading into Saturday’s Big Eight Conference meet, Middleton's Kevin Meicher, top, has built a 34-0 record — making him 130-9 for his career — and holds the No. 1 ranking in Division 1 among 152-pounders.

It’s time for Middleton wrestler Kevin Meicher to reload for another run.

After winning the WIAA Division 1 state individual championship at 126 pounds as a freshman and adding a runner-up finish at 138 last year, the junior is a favorite in the 152-pound class this year.

Heading into Saturday’s Big Eight Conference meet at Madison La Follette, Meicher has built a 34-0 record — making him 130-9 for his career — and holds the No. 1 ranking in Division 1 among 152 pounders.

“I take pride in it, but I don’t really pay attention to that,” Meicher said of his ranking. “Because (any of) the top 10 guys in the state in my weight class have the potential to take that spot.”

Two years ago, Meicher went the distance in the 126-pound weight class, getting a state title as a freshman and posting a 47-3 record.

“It’s funny — before his freshman year, I just had a weird feeling. A good, weird feeling,” Middleton coach Kent Weiler said. “I told his dad: ‘Look, I think he’s going to win the whole thing.’ It was just a premonition.”

But last season, Meicher ran into the buzz saw that is Sun Prairie’s Drew Scharenbrock three times — including a 4-0 loss in the state final at 138, which left Meicher with a 49-6 record for the season.

“I was hoping to get to four state titles, but that result just added extra motivation for these next two years,” Meicher said. “I realized freshman year that I could compete with the best athletes in the state.”

Said Weiler: “The best part about coaching him is his willingness to keep developing, and keeping an open mind. Kevin continues to search for ways to progress and get better. That’s what makes him a pleasure to have in the room.

“In my coaching career — I’ve been around for 20-some years — I hate to say he’s once-in-a-lifetime, because I definitely want to repeat it. But right now, I’m just enjoying this process.”

Because of his humble mindset, Meicher constantly searches for ways to improve.

“This year, it’s all about the smaller stuff, just refining every shot and every finish from every position,” Meicher said. “Going into every match, there’s one thing I try to focus on. If I’m not able to get it done, I talk to coaches and they refine that, and then I go out the next match and do it right that time.”

Meicher has helped Middleton post a 5-5 record in dual meets facing a schedule loaded with opponents mentioned in the state rankings that was meant to challenge the squad.

That way, Weiler said, the entire team gets better along with Meicher.

“It’s great to concentrate on Kevin, but our team doesn’t feel that way. It’s more of a team aspect,” Weiler said. “That being said, he’s a star and it’s no secret as to why he’s found success — whether it’s being there all the time or working toward his craft, he’s always doing the right thing.”

Beyond honing technical aspects of his game, Meicher has blossomed into a leadership role on an experienced Cardinals team.

“I would say I lead more by example. That’s what comes naturally to me,” Meicher said. “I don’t really notice, but there’s a lot of younger kids that look up to me, so I take it as a responsibility in a way.”

Weiler said Sun Prairie (led by Scharenbrock, ranked No. 1 at 145) and Janesville Craig are the favorites to win the conference crown. And this will mark the first time all year all three schools will compete in the same tournament.

“I just want to see the guys go out there and compete and perform. The results will follow,” Weiler said. “Every match matters in a team tournament.

“I know it’ll be fun for our guys and our fans to experience the rollercoaster ride of finally playing in a team format, where the leaderboard can change in an instant.”

“They’re both solid, well-coached teams,” Meicher said, “so we just need to have everyone focused and ready to take it one match at a time. But it’ll be important to beat Sun Prairie at every match that we can. It would be great to be a part of a conference championship team.”