Senior 130-pounder Geoff Hilt and his coach Barry Bernstein were looking for a longer run in the WIAA Division 1 State Individual Tournament last weekend in Madison. But Bernstein was happy for the step forward for the program as Hilt was the team's first state qualifier in five years.
"He was pretty positive," Bernstein said after Hilt (37-9) fell, 10-1, to eventual third-place finisher Jonathan Enderby of Pulaski (44-5) in a first-round match at the Kohl Center in Madison on Feb. 26.
"He thought he had wrestled the best he could. He tried a lot of different things but the Enderby kid was very tough and physical."
Because Enderby lost in the quarterfinals later that day, Hilt did not get a wrestleback.
The tournament ended the Highlanders positive season.
"It was a vast improvement over last season," Bernstein said. "We were 10-17 in duals last season and we were 17-10 this time around. We also had a number of wrestlers earn 30 or more wins whereas we only had one or two last year."
The Highlanders finished with more than 40 athletes this winter.
"We had a solid finishing base, but whether we improve next year or not depends a lot on what the kids do in the summer," Bernstein said. "The kids did a lot of work to get significantly better this year, but what we took from last weekend, is that we have to get much stronger."
Seniors include Hilt, Eric Dobberfuhl, Sean Walsh Rynders, Alex Hilt, Mike Schoessow, Kyle White, Mike Burke, Nick Kirchner, Teiko Amuzu and Jeremy Patton.
The season ended quietly for the Falcons on Feb. 26 when junior 145-pounder Justin Naber was pinned in 1 minute, 56 seconds by Cody Suess of Southern Door in the first round of the WIAA Division 2 State Individual Tournament in Madison.
Naber finished the season 26-12. Suess (37-10) went on to lose to two-time champion Hayden Hauschildt of Ellsworth (31-1).
- Steven L. Tietz,
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