Milton wrestlers looks to strike
John, Paul, George and Ringo were simply known as the “Fab Four.”
Milton High School has its own fab four.
Ian Johnson, Landon Shea, John Wells and Garrett Whitehead busted onto the scene as talented freshmen wrestlers two years ago, and the hits have kept on coming.
All four Red Hawk juniors will wrestle today in the WIAA Division 1 state individual tournament at the Kohl Center in Madison.
As sophomores, the “fab four” helped Milton finish second in the state team tournament. Wells won a state title at 103 pounds last year, while Johnson was second at 160.
“I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to coach those four kids,” Milton’s Pat Jauch said. “Not only have they had a lot of success, but they’ve done things the right way as far as how hard they work and their attitudes.
“All four have been ‘in it to win it,’ and I don’t expect that to change at state.”
Johnson (33-4) and Whitehead (44-4) won sectional titles at 171 and 130, respectively. Johnson will be the favorite to win a state title, while Whitehead will have to find a way to beat Germantown’s Jesse Thielke, a three-time state champion, who is looking to become only the 10th wrestler in state history to win four state titles.
Wells (40-8) lost to Kenosha Tremper’s Tyler Rice in the sectional finals at 112 last Saturday, but defeated Rice, 10-5, in last year’s title match at 103.
“I have no doubt that Ian is the best wrestler in the state at his weight class,” Jauch said. “And with his skills and desire, I see no reason why he can’t win a state title.
“John also lost to Rice in the sectional’s last year, so we’ll see if he can duplicate what he did last year at state. The key for him is getting that first takedown.”
Clinton’s Banh title contender
Another area wrestler hoping to find gold at state is Clinton’s Daniel Banh. The senior is 38-3 and will get a Division 2 first-round bye at 112 pounds after winning the Evansville Sectional title last Saturday. Banh finished second at 112 at state last year.
“All of Daniel’s losses this season came at 119 pounds,” Clinton coach Dan Wallace said. “He’s been unbeatable at 112, and I hope that continues at state.
“On his feet is where Daniel scores. So that’s going to be his strategy at state, as well. He wants to force the action.”
Banh will be joined at state by teammate Dane Brandl at 160.
Elkhorn’s Stilling has big shot
Elkhorn’s Jake Stilling has the best Division 1 record at 160 pounds. The sophomore is 41-1 heading into his opening-round match against Tyler Von Haden (32-7) of Tomah. Elkhorn coach Ken Reynolds likes Stilling’s chances at winning a state title.
“Elkhorn is going to be very proud of what Jake will accomplish by the time he graduates, Reynolds said. “Jake has a great work ethic, and he has elevated the whole wrestling room with his compete everyday attitude.
“Our wrestling program is a whole lot better because of what he brings to practice every day. That’s what you need to be successful.”
Taylor French and Connor Selvey also qualified for Elkhorn at 135 and 285, respectively.
Delavan-Darien also will be well represented at the Division 2 state meet. The Comets, led by 152-pound sectional champion Kyndle Bennett (38-4), will have four wrestlers competing. Jeff Myers (130), Kiefer Bennett (145) and Marcus Hudson (171) all advanced by finishing second at the Milwaukee Lutheran Sectional.