From the early dual meets in December through the WIAA Division 1 State Tournament, the 2013-14 season was one to remember for local wrestling teams.
West Allis Central came in second and West Allis Hale third in the Greater Metro Conference Tournament, both trailing eventual WIAA State Team Tournament qualifier Menomonee Falls.
Whitnall placed third and Greenfield fifth in the Woodland Conference Tournament.
The teams performed well in major invitationals along the way as well. Central won its own E.H. Stech Invitational, while Hale captured its own Bauer Brawl, with Greenfield taking second.
Whitnall brought home championships from the Whitewater Invitational and the Trocat Scramble at Green Bay.
In addition, the four teams experienced individual success, particularly in the WIAA tournament series.
A total of nine wrestlers qualified for the state individual meet, five from Central, three from Hale and one from Whitnall.
For Central, Tyus White and Mark Choinski both came home with state championships, White at 106 pounds and Choinski at 138 pounds. Tere White, Jason Alvarez and Brandon Driessen also went to state.
Hale's Dallas Wanta placed third at 220 and Jake Gruichich sixth at 160 and were joined in Madison by teammate John Baltz.
Whitnall's Nick Monty was also at state, and the Falcons probably would have had a few more entries had it not been for some untimely injuries.
West Allis Central
The season got off to somewhat of a slow start with early dual losses to Hale and Falls, but by the end of the campaign, the Bulldogs were at their best.
"I am very proud of how our wrestlers stepped it up a notch mentally and physically each match nearing the end of the season," head coach Jon Nelson said.
The pinnacle of Central's season success was provided by state champs White and Choinski.
"Tyus and Tere will continue their success and continue training with Greg Gomez in the off-season," Nelson said. "Tyus has to keep up his good work and not get comfortable with his success. Tere needs to get stronger; he lost two matches at state simply because he was overpowered.
"Mark proved that hard work and dedication do pay off. Mark started wrestling at West Milwaukee Intermediate School in seventh grade, proving you don't have to wrestle all your life to win a state title."
Nelson is optimistic about next season, as both Whites and Driessen will return, along with some other key varsity members.
"We have some up-and-comers ready to fill the holes in the lineup," said Nelson, who also thanked coaches Brian Ciszewski and Joe Immekus for the extra help they provided the program.
West Allis Hale
The Huskies posted strong finishes in the GMC and in regional action, led by Wanta, who was unbeaten until the state semifinal match.
"Dallas wrestled very well and earned his third-place medal," head coach Randy Ferrell said. "He is a young man that others can use as an example. He committed himself to the sport and it has truly paid off."
Ferrell also praised his other state qualifiers, Gruichich and Baltz.
"Jake had a great tournament and beat some very good wrestlers en route to sixth place," Ferrell said. "He has worked extremely hard to get where he is. John will be returning and has learned a lot about what it takes to earn a medal. He should be the cornerstone in a very good lightweight group."
The Falcons had to keep restructuring their lineup due to injuries and suspensions, but they remained a tough team, posting a 20-6 dual mark for the season.
Both head coaches, John Quinlan and Craig Austin, posted milestone victories. Quinlan notched his 500th triumph and Austin his 200th.
They were led by consistent performances from wrestlers such as Anthony Senthavisouk, Blake Leslie and Monty, but many other team members contributed along the way.
"A lot of different guys stepped up throughout the year and got big wins for us," Quinlan said. "Seth Nowak had a couple of big wins, and Peter Moore and Jon Homontowski had huge wins against Wauwatosa (in a Woodland dual victory).
"It really was a team effort. We were 5-0 in single-digit matches, wins by nine or fewer points, and that's because guys were willing to be juggled around in weight classes. I'm really impressed by their unselfishness."
The Falcons will return much of this year's squad, with Joe Price, Michael Langenohl and Moore the only seniors who were consistent starters.
"We really have a chance of this (next year's squad) being one of our best teams," Quinlan said. "We should have the most guys returning of all the teams in our sectional. A conference title is not out of the question."
The Hustlin' Hawks had several highlights, including the runner-up finish at Hale's Bauer Brawl and a loss to always strong Wauwatosa on the eighth tiebreaker.
"The Woodland is a competitive conference, and aside from losing to Pewaukee 43-13, we were within a couple of matches of winning three other duals," head coach Chris Otto said.
Greenfield bids farewell to seniors Turner Panich, Tommy Friedbacher, Tyler Dorfner, Mohammed Jaber, Anthony Rychlowski and Anthony Kurczewski, but will return eight starters next season.
"I hope the kids take the steps to get better in the off-season and buy into the mind-set that 'summer wrestling results in winter championships,'" Otto said.
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