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Badger wrestling captures first conference crown since 1992



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Badger senior Rory Shine (152) provided a spark for the Badgers Saturday. It was his first varsity action after missing all season with an injury. Mike Ramczyk.

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Hildebrandt (click for larger version)

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Randy Shine (click for larger version)

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Otero (click for larger version)
February 05, 2013 | 04:15 PM
BURLINGTON — Talk about pressure.

After losing duals to both Burlington and Elkhorn during the regular season, the only way Badger could win the Southern Lakes title was by winning Saturday's Southern Lakes meet.

Even then, the Badgers would still need some help in the points department.

With three conference champions, Badger won the SLC meet with 235.5 points. With the victory, Badger, Burlington and Elkhorn all tied for the conference title with 24 points. However, Badger earned the tie-breaker because it won the SLC meet.

History was made as it was Badger's first conference title since 1992.

"We knew we had to win the tournament outright," Badger coach Shane Koehl said Saturday after the meet. "We came out today and kids got big pin points in the first couple rounds. We had 13 of our 14 guys in the semifinals. It was all about getting the bonus points on pins and major decisions. The kids came through."

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With championship matches at 106, 145 and 152, Randy Shine was Badger's only champion at 145. With four title bouts to go, Badger needed victories to remain in the first place for the day. After Andrew Cychner finished second at 170, Tyler Otero came up big for the Badgers.

In the 182-pound championship bout, Otero needed three different sudden-death extra periods, but he finally edged Elkhorn's Kyle Mountford, 4-3, to take first place. Otero showed stamina and toughness and never gave up in a must-win situation.

"It was the match of the year so far for us easily," Koehl said. "He dug deep and kept pushing the pace. So many times this year, we've been on the other end of that. I hope it's a breakthrough for the kids to realize that's how you win those close matches."

Tayler Hildebrandt followed Otero's marathon with a sprint. He pinned Elkhorn's Dylan Linhart in a mere 48 seconds. Hildebrandt was fired up after the win and ran over to embrace his coaches.

Though Robert Johnson fell to second at 220, Carlos Garcia finished the meet strong with a 7-5 win in the third-place match over Elkhorn's Eddie Wilging.

Badger got an added spark Saturday from senior Rory Shine. Competing for the first time this season after getting medical clearance just five days prior, Rory almost won the title at 152. He made it to the championship match before falling to Burlington's Cody Elsbury. Rory Shine won a wrestle-off with Tristan Steiner to earn the right to compete at conference.

"It was great to have Rory back," Koehl said. "He's been with us four years and was doing rehab all year. It was a surprise. Steiner has also done an excellent job all year. Rory and Tristan will make us that much better for next week."

Randy Shine remained perfect on the season with his first conference title. In the championship match, Randy Shine finished the conference season 10-0 with a 14-4 pounding of Elkhorn's John Olsen.

"He doesn't make mistakes and he's hard to score on," Koehl said of Randy Shine.

Overall, it was Badger's depth that ultimately led to victory.

"It takes 14 guys scoring points," Koehl said. "It came down to 5.5 points late in the meet. That's just one match. I hoped we would be in this position after losing to Elkhorn."

Badger begins the postseason Saturday at Elkhorn. Facing Elkhorn and Milton among others, Badger must win the tournament to advance to sectionals.

"We have to score big points in the first rounds and get pins," Koehl said. "We can't have anybody knocked out of the tournament. We have to make our own breaks. We have to turn it up. Our goal is to make it back to team state."

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