Wauwatosa wrestling coach Kent Morin is more than happy to look at the big picture following last week's WIAA state wrestling tournament.
'It was a good weekend,' the veteran coach said. 'There were only seven Division 1 schools that had more qualifiers than we had (five). That really is an amazing thing if you stop and think about it. It makes a big statement about how far our program has come.
'The guys battled hard against the best wrestlers in the state. It was crazy the level of wrestling that took place this past weekend. Many outstanding wrestlers went home without medals. I was really proud of our five qualifiers and how hard they wrestled.'
Justin Folley at 126 (48-2) fell short of defending his state championship but still had an excellent tournament in scoring 21.50 team points for Tosa.
He defeated Slinger's Hudson Mountjoy (44-8) on a technical fall (15-0, 4:14) in the first round and then pinned Waterford's Justin Ratkovec (39-3) in 5 minutes, 19 seconds.
'His side of the bracket was really loaded with outstanding wrestlers,' Morin said. 'After tech falling a 44-6 wrestler from Slinger the first round, he had to take on Ratkovec, who was ranked second in the state. He fell behind 6-1 but kept his composure and scored a reversal and 2-point near fall at the end of the second period. In the third period, he scored an escape to tie it at 6-6 and then was able to take him down right to his back for the pin. It was easily one of the best matches in the entire tournament.'
He then won a thrilling 1-0 decision over Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln's Patrick Spray (47-5).
'Then he had Spray from Rapids, who took second in state as a sophomore and fourth last year,' Morin said. 'He was ranked No. 3 in the state this year. He is an outstanding wrestler from one of the best programs in the state.
'They went 0-0 into the third period before Justin scored an escape to win 1-0. It was a fabulous match with two of the best wrestlers in the state. So just to get to the finals took three outstanding wins.'
But then he lost to Middleton freshman Kevin Meicher (43-3) by a 9-8 decision, ending his chance for a second straight state title.
'In the finals, he came up just a little short,' Morin said. 'Meicher was a good rider who was able to shut down Justin's scrambling ability just enough to grind out the win. Justin had him on his back in the third and was almost able to pin him. Meicher did a great job of fighting off his back and riding out Justin for the victory.
'I think the main thing was, we just got too aggressive. He was going for that pin (in the third), though we really didn't need it at the time, but that's the kind of kid he is, and that's how he's gotten as far as he has. We weren't going to change that just for one match.
'We knew he (the Middleton wrestler) was a strong kid, but we'd watched him and there wasn't anything that he did that we didn't expect. We just needed to get back on our feet, which is our strongest position, and the kid did a good job of keeping us out of that position.'
Morin looked at the big picture when talking about his outstanding senior.
'I have had many people say to me how disappointed this ending had to be,' he said. 'And yes, we were disappointed. But what Justin accomplished is still amazing.
'He finishes with a state championship and a runner-up finish over the past two years. He went 94-3 over those two years. How can you put a disappointing label on that finish? I think it just says volumes about how good of a wrestler he actually is.'
Jordan Boettcher at 152 (42-7) scored 2 points for Tosa.
He defeated Elkhorn Area's Bryce Jacobson (38-7) by a 6-2 decision but then lost in the quarterfinal to Greenfield's Tre'Vaughn Craig (47-3) by a 5-1 decision. In the consolation round, he dropped a 5-3 sudden-victory decision to Hudson's Ryan McDevitt (38-8).
'Jordan was able to start off his tournament with a good 6-2 win over Jacobson, as he really dominated him with his takedowns,' Morin said. 'Then he had a familiar foe in Craig from Greenfield.
'It was a tight match, with Jordan losing 2-1 going into the third period. Then Craig was able to score an escape and takedown to seal the match. He then lost a tough overtime decision to McDevitt in his wrestleback.
'I think when it was all over, Jordan realized just how close he got to being on the awards podium. He was really a big part of our success this year, posting a 42-7 record. He will be a tough one to replace.'
Zach Miller at 145 (31-8) only had one match, losing to Sparta's Jaden Winchel (39-5) by a 7-0 decision. Winchell was the defending D2 state champion.
'He battled him tough but was unable to take him down,' Morin said. 'Unfortunately, Winchel was upset in his next match, and Zach didn't get a wrestleback. He is another senior that will be sorely missed next year.'
Lorry Venturi at 285 (29-11) lost by a pin in 4:39 to Holmen's Gabe Hauser (39-13) in the first round and then dropped a 5-1 decision to Green Bay West/East/Southwest's Caleb Jeffreys (26-7) to end his day.
'Lorry did an outstanding job getting to the state tournament,' Morin said. 'He was only losing in his first match 1-0 going into the third period before he was reversed and pinned. In his wrestleback, he couldn't take Jeffrey down and suffered a 5-1 decision.
'Lorry came back in the second half of the season from a sprained ankle to finish off the year strong. He has come so far in his four years of high school.'
Lawrence Thomas at 195 (33-15) drew the eventual state champion — Pewaukee's Jacob Raschka (54-0) — in his first match and lost by a fall in 1:46. In the consolation round, Janesville Parker's Logan Murdy (34-4) won by fall in 4:33.
'To say LT didn't get a good draw is an understatement,' Morin said. 'I do know, though, that he gained great experience and was already talking about what he needed to do this off-season to make sure he gets back up to the state tournament next year. To get to the state tournament as a sophomore is an outstanding accomplishment.'
Morin looked at the glass as half full when assessing his team's performance.
'So some people say this was a disappointing weekend for us,' he said. 'I say they are crazy. We established ourselves as one of the top programs in the state and walked away with a state runner-up.
'If that is a disappointment, sign me up for more disappointment next year.'