State dreams on the line
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 6:00 PM
PESHTIGO - Hunter Madden is yearning to get back to state. Andy Johnston has come so close and has one last chance.
Two other Peshtigo wrestlers are hoping their state dreams come true on Saturday.
The four Bulldogs will head to the Division 2 Seymour Sectional, where three of the eight wrestlers in each weight bracket will advance to state.
In Division 3, Coleman will send nine wrestlers to the Bonduel Sectional, to be held at nearby Shawano High School. Oconto has five sectional qualifiers and Gillett/Suring has one.
The WIAA individual state meet will be held Feb. 27-March 1 at Madison's Kohl Center.
Madden qualified for state as a 106-pound freshman. Now he's a 132-pound senior with fond memories of the spectacle, which draws close to 13,000 fans for each session.
"It's indescribable," Madden said. "It's a great feeling to be there."
He wants to get back so badly that he and three of his teammates attended a Pennsylvania wrestling camp last summer.
"I've been working really hard," Madden said.
His favorite moves are a fireman's takedown and a pancake.
"I'm pretty good with the switch," he said.
Madden (34-11) will open Saturday morning against Southern Door's Hunter Pawelski (39-6). He knows what it will take to finish among the top three in his bracket.
"Hard wrestling and just wrestle smart," Madden said. "Getting points when I need them, not giving up points."
Johnston (39-3) is a three-time sectional qualifier. This time he advances as a regional champion. Clearly, he's stepped up his performance in his outstanding senior season.
"I think I just found myself as a wrestler," Johnston said. "I just never pushed myself hard enough. That mental part of my game, knowing I can wrestle and knowing I can get through. In my mind, as long as I have my moves and wrestle my match, I can beat anybody."
Johnston, who was a defensive wrestler in the past, has been in an attack mode since the season began. He likes to execute double underhooks, leg trips and bear hugs, and he's a pinning machine.
Kyle Behrandt of Two Rivers (26-16) is Johnston's first-round opponent Saturday.
"State means everything at this point," Johnston said. "It's what I've dreamed of since 3 years old. This is my last chance. I've got to do it."
Senior 160-pounder Shane Marquardt (33-9) also has made huge strides this season. He'll open against Peter Pintens of Tomahawk (35-7).
"State would be a huge accomplishment," Marquardt said. "I've always dreamed about it. Now I've got the opportunity to get there."
Marquardt is proud of his accomplishment but has plans to extend his season.
"Wrestle my heart out every match, giving everything I've got," he said. "The attitude comes from within, drilling hard, perfecting my moves."
Bulldog sophomore Tyler Brissette(16-12) has just three years of wrestling experience under his belt. He'll open as an underdog against Chandler Donati of Two Rivers, but you never know, especially if Brissette catches Donati in his favorite move.
"I expect to do my best, find a cradle or two," Brissette said. "Get a couple pins, get experience, come back next year. "I kind of just like to roll around, and if I find something that's there, take it."
Brissette appreciates the help he's received from his teammates in the practice room.
"I wouldn't be where I'm at if it wasn't for my team," he said.
Quarterfinal matches will begin Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at Seymour and Shawano.