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Badger advances to team, individual state without top wrestler


Days after capturing sectional title, four Badgers qualify for individual tournament



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Rory Shine (left) won his sectional Saturday at 152. He was wrestling in honor of brother Randy, who may miss the rest of the season after knee surgery. Mike Ramczyk.

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Hildebrandt (click for larger version)

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Johnson (click for larger version)
February 19, 2013 | 04:12 PM
FORT ATKINSON — It was a bittersweet week for the Badger wrestling squad.

After winning team sectionals for the second straight year Tuesday, the Badgers came back and qualified four individuals for the state meet Saturday. However, in the process, they lost their best wrestler for the season.

Senior Randy Shine fought through a knee infection in his match on Tuesday and suffered his first loss of the season, an overtime thriller. However, he had to have surgery the next day and is out for the season.

"Randy had a severe knee infection that he tried to push through and the medication and pain was too much," Badger coach Shane Koehl said. "I was very concerned how we would respond, Randy is our emotional rock on the team.

Despite Shine's first loss of the season, Badger rallied in a big way at the Milton Sectional Tuesday. Badger fell in a huge hole, 20-3, but a miraculous comeback featuring six victories in the final seven matches propelled the local boys to a 29-23 victory over Mount Horeb/Barneveld, Division 1's fourth-ranked team. That never-say-die attitude has fueled the team all season.

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Badger, ranked No. 9 in the state in Division 1, now advances to team state March 1 in Madison.

"The sectional match against Mt. Horeb was intense," Koehl said. "Bryan Nugent got us off to a huge win against a very good opponent, a bit of an upset and it turned out to be one of the key matches of the night. It definitely gave us a huge emotional boost that we needed at the start. They are very, very tough from 138-182 and we knew that. I knew we had a chance to get bonus points in the upper weights and those guys came through and got us back in it."

After six straight losses, Badger rallied with six straight wins. And they did it in dominant fashion. At 195, Hildebrandt started the streak with a pin in only a minute. Then, Robert Johnson followed with a major decision, and Carlos Garcia notched a pin. At 106, Michael Peter won, 9-2, and at 120, Alex Martinez won by decision and Adan Ortiz also won by decision to give Badger a secure 29-20 lead. Zach Leonard lost in the last match, but the damage was done.

"It was truly a team effort and win," Koehl said. "Every match was exciting, with lead changes going back and forth, and the place was loud. I couldn't even hear the buzzers at the end of periods, very exciting. Team state two years in a row in this sectional is awesome. I can't say enough about what this team has accomplished in the past month and a half. They came together, overcame adversity and injury and put this run together."

Badger will battle Kaukauna, the No. 2 team in Division 1, March 1 at the University of Wisconsin Field House. Koehl reiterated that the loss of Shine is huge.

"I was devastated as a coach," he said. "The kid has done everything he could to get to this point and bad luck keeps finding him. There is not a doubt in my mind he had what it takes to win state this year. Randy is one of the most unselfish, giving leaders I have ever coached. He got out of the hospital on Friday afternoon and came right up to practice to motivate the guys for Saturday. Amazing."

Badger wrestled well in Shine's honor Saturday.

Randy's brother Rory Shine (152) won a sectional title along with Hildebrandt. Four Badgers finished in the top three, which qualified them for individual state this weekend at the Kohl Center in Madison. Other state qualifiers include Peter (second place and Johnson (second). Four other Badgers, Otero, Ortiz, Leonard and Martinez, finished in fourth place.

"Any time you get multiple wrestlers to state, it is an accomplishment," Koehl said. "This is another sign of the depth and quality of the wrestlers on this team. Tayler has put a lot of time in the off-season, and we hope this is the year he makes the podium with a top-six finish. Rory is an amazing story. He beat the Mt. Horeb kid who beat him Tuesday in OT. He has beaten three state-ranked kids in the last two weeks. It's amazing considering he has only has been back three weeks now. Rory is just like his brother, an amazing competitor, hard worker and a great kid. I also think he was wrestling for Randy on Saturday."

Peter knocked off the state's fifth-ranked wrestler from Janesville Craig in overtime in the semifinals to advance to state. Johnson lost for the fourth time to Elkhorn's Dakota Johnson in the championship, but he came back with a second-place finish. Koehl said Johnson is so close to beating him. The two would possibly meet again in the medal round this weekend.

"Overall, kids wrestled well," Koehl said. "I always feel we should have won a couple here and there that we did not, but we are right there with some of the best in the state."

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