Brookfield East's Wolfenden proves to be the total package
East's Wolfenden second at state meet
Brookfield East senior Justin Wolfenden is the type of wrestler you can only dream about coaching - just ask first-year coach John Veal.
"I knew the quality of this kid and wanted the community to be inspired by the type of kid that we are capable of producing," Veal said Saturday. "Justin is the most respectful and hard-working kid I have ever coached."
Wolfenden (43-8) had the best day of any Brookfield wrestler at the WIAA State Wrestling Championships at the Kohl Center in Madison last Thursday, Friday and Saturday. He finished second to three-time state champion Jesse Thielke of Germantown, as he was the third wrestler in four to suffer a technical fall (19-4 in the third period) at the hands of the talented Warhawk junior in the tournament.
"He's just so dominant," said Wolfenden, who competed at 125 pounds. "There's just not a lot of breathing room. You can't afford mistakes against him and I made some. He's just on a whole other level. But I'm really happy with what I accomplished at state."
Wolfenden won by decision (6-2) over Peter Buchholz (Racine Horlick) and then again beat Mitch Barnetzke (Wausau West), 5-2, in the quarter-finals.
He then won by decision (10-6) over Kyle McKenzie (La Crosse Logan), before dropping the championship match.
"Justin was dominant and very disciplined in his first three state tournament matches," Veal said. "He knew the positions he wanted to be in, and made sure he wrestled from those. Each match he took the guy down and rode him out.
"He didn't do anything fancy, but was in total control. Thielke is just a machine and was too much for Justin. Getting there was an outstanding achievement. Walking the 'Walk of Champions' is every wrestlers' dream and Justin savored every minute of it."
Wolfenden, who had a superb season, started out slowly, picking up most of his losses early in the year. His performance took off at the Raider Invitational at Sheboygan North when he defeated Division 2 state champ Joseph Her by an 18-4 margin.
"I just put it all together and started stringing things together from there," he said.
He finished third at the Raider Invitational, losing to an All-American by one point, then rolled through conference and regionals.
"Hard work is extremely important," Wolfenden said. "I want to be able to go out and compete and dominate all six minutes. You have to have the mentality to dominate."
"Justin is devout in his faith, yet still keeps everyone at ease," Veal said. "He had a 4.0 GPA last semester and was at school every day at 6:30 a.m. working out whether or not anybody else was there. He would be at school till 7:15 p.m. most nights to work with the youth wrestlers of our community.
"It will take me some time to get over that I will never be coaching 'J-Dub' again."
Senior Joey Woppert at 145 opened with a 4-2 win over Matt Demars (Green Bay West/SW) and a 10-6 decision over Tyler Bauer (West Allis Nathan Hale). He then lost (9-2) to eventual state champ Brad Dolezal (Marshfield) before bouncing back with a 3-1 overtime win over Branden Capetillo of Sheboygan South and was pinned by Conner Mark of Wausau West in 59 seconds in the third-place match.
Coach John Veal: "Woppert performed great at the state meet. He didn't get where he wanted, but he definitely gave it his all. I was most proud of the way he conducted himself. There have been great changes in him over the last couple of months and I hope people take notice. He had perfect sportsmanship and really became more self-accountable."
Casey Dentino at 103 beat Alex Blaney of Bay Port (5-4), lost a major decision (16-3) to Bobby Nachreiner of Hartford Union, beat Kameron Bourgeosis of Whitnall (7-4) and lost (4-2) to Joe Umlauf of Wausau West.
Coach's comments: "Casey had a great season by most people's standards and performed admirably in the state tournament by placing in the top eight. I have high expectations for him and he has higher for himself."
Larry Watson at 160 lost to Nick Larson (Hudson) by major decision (12-2).
Coach's comments: "Watson had a tough draw and did not have his best performance. He had a great season, but I know he can do better. There are some things we will change to improve his wrestling next year."
Bryce Gilbert at 285 pinned Joe Multerer (Germantown) in 1:57; lost 7-2 to Najee Parker (Kenosha Tremper), pinned Josh Remsza (Cudahy/St. Francis) in 3:38 and lost in double overtime (4-2) to Jake Schall (Slinger).
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