By Greg Bates
ACN & Times-Press sports correspondent
Any freshman who can step onto the mat at the Kohl Center in Madison at the end of February and flourish has a bright future ahead of them.
Wyatt Kaczrowski did just that.
The Seymour wrestler had a solid first state tournament appearance, placing fifth at 113. His teammate Thomas Peters unfortunately lost his only match at 160 to end his career.
Kaczrowski finished the tournament with a 3-2 record.
“We’re real proud of Wyatt,” Seymour wrestling coach Mark Schmoll said. “He came into the tournament with a lot of confidence. He ran into some tough kids, which we always do down at the state tournament.”
Kaczrowski (39-9) opened with an 11-7 decision over Ashland senior Erik Gerovac on Thursday, Feb. 22. In the quarterfinals, Kaczrowski took down Viroqua’s Josh Frye 7-4.
Kaczrowski squared off with a familiar face in the semifinals, Freedom’s Colby McHugh. Kaczrowski beat McHugh 5-3 in the regional final. At sectionals, McHugh got redemption in the true second-place match with a 7-2 victory. In the state bout, McHugh scored an identical 7-2 win en route to a second-place finish.
In wrestlebacks, Kaczrowski lost to Amery’s Jordan Penard by major decision, 15-6.
It’s tough for any wrestler to have to bounce back from back-to-back losses, especially at the state level.
“I think it has a lot to do with the type of kid that he is,” Schmoll said. “He works really hard, he has a positive. He cares greatly about the sport and how well he does, but also how well he represents our team.”
Kaczrowski edged Kewaskum’s Adam Bruss 1-0 to bring home fifth place.
Wrestling in big matches when he was younger prepared Kaczrowski to perform well on the big stage.
“Some of that experience really helps when it comes to big match and big tournaments,” Schmoll said. “It’s an emotional rollercoaster when you’re down here wrestling at the state tournament. The kids that are able to keep things a little bit more even keel than some of the others are oftentimes those that are able to win those close matches, because they stay focused on doing the little things right instead of trying to do things that they’re not accustomed to doing.”
Placing fifth in his first season as a varsity wrestler should go a long way for Kaczrowski. He overcame plenty of adversity at state, and that should make him a better wrestler as a sophomore.
“I think it’s very important for his confidence going into next season and beyond,” Schmoll said. “All the experiences he went through at this tournament are invaluable.”
Despite only getting one match at state, Peters capped off his career in style by just qualifying for the first time.
Peters (36-8) was beaten by Grafton’s Nick Rapp 15-9 on Thursday night.
“He wrestled a tough match,” Schmoll said. “There were quite a few points scored, he just didn’t score enough of them.”
Schmoll like the effort Peters put in during his match.
“He got down by quite a bit and got it back to pretty close,” Schmoll said. “By the time it got back to the end of the match, he had to try a few things to try and make up some points and gave up some more. So, it was closer than what the final score showed.”
Peters, who led Seymour in pins this season, was a little disappointed by his state showing.
“But at the same time, we try and remind the kids that if you finish your season in the Kohl Center that it’s a heck of an accomplishment,” Schmoll said. “Obviously, you strive to get on that podium and once you’re on the podium to get a step higher.”
Schmoll said throughout Peters’ four years in the program, he continued to grow as a wrestler as well as a person.
“He was somebody we relied on heavily through the season,” Schmoll said. “He was a huge part of our conference championship, one of the leaders of our team. He did a great job. Nice young man.”
Thomas Peters fights for a 2-point takedown against his opponent during his qualifying WIAA Division 2 match. Peters fell behind early and was unable to make up the deficit to Grafton’s Nick Rapp. – Photo courtesy of Dave Gomm
Wyatt Kaczrowski works on a half nelson to get his opponent to his back during his WIAA Division 2 match. – Photo courtesy of Dave Gomm
By Greg Bates