Quartet punches tickets to state wrestling tourney
Regazzi, Heard, Agg, LaBodda all qualify for Oak Creek
Oak Creek - Oak Creek 182-pound wrestler Josh Regazzi knows a good opportunity when he sees one.
After looking at his bracket in this weekend's WIAA state individual tournament at the Kohl Center in Madison, the three-time state qualifier knows he has a good opportunity at a state medal and beyond.
"My goal is to get to the championship (Saturday night)," said Regazzi. "I think my draw is very good with chances all the way through."
Regazzi (34-5) will lead a solid group of four Oak Creek qualifiers after they advanced from the Racine Horlick sectional last Saturday. Joining him will be Seth LaBodda at 120 (30-7) and fellow big bodies Bryce Agg at 195 (26-12) and fellow returning state qualifier Mike Heard at 220 (11-2).
Heard continues to make a strong impression after his late-season return from injury.
"It's going to be fun to have the three big guys right in a row (182, 195 and 220)," said Regazzi, "and it's really good to have Mike back. We can really use him. We missed him in dual meets down the stretch. The freshman we had in there worked really hard, but it's just great having Mike back."
All four qualifiers are seniors.
"Mike wrestled very well on the mat," said Knights coach Matt Sommerville. "He wasn't as good on his feet as he usually is, but he made up for that with nice offense on the mat. As a team, we were hoping to qualify at least six. We didn't meet that goal, but my seniors have really taken this program to the next level. I think they set a good example for the younger kids."
Intriguing state matchups
Regazzi has reason for his optimism, as his first-day four-man state bracket is very winnable as he takes on Lake Geneva Badger junior Taylor Hildebrandt (27-9) in the first-round and then if successful will take on the winner of Menomonee Falls' Ayoola Olapo (27-5) and Burlington's Ryan Jazdzewski (37-10) for a berth in Friday's semifinals.
First-round and quarterfinal bouts will be held on Thursday at the Kohl starting at 3 p.m.
"The kid from Badger doesn't really have any big wins and I lost a tough match to the Burlington guy earlier this year," said Regazzi. "I think I could have a better game plan this time around."
Other Oak Creek match-ups include LaBodda against Darius Wright of Holmen (26-3), Agg against Sussex Hamilton's Mike Konvalinka (42-2) and Heard versus Isaiah Hayes of De Pere (36-6).
Strong sectional finish
The qualifying efforts led the Knights to a fourth-place showing in the 16-school Horlick sectional with 80 points as Bradley Tech won with 155.5.
Regazzi and Heard won sectional titles to pace Oak Creek.
Regazzi had a first-round bye and then pinned a Milwaukee Riverside opponent (2:48) before downing South Milwaukee's Tom Mitchell (38-6) with a 14-6 major decision.
"My offense was good all day, including my shots," Regazzi said. "The only disappointment was that I felt I should have pinned that guy in the final."
Sommerville added: "Josh wrestled well again. His goal is much higher than making it to state."
Heard claimed a forfeit in the first round and then beat a Riverside foe, 3-1, in the semifinals before pinning Tech's Ricky Gill (31-11) in 3:14 in the final.
LaBodda beat Racine Case (major decision) and Racine Park (decision) opponents, before falling to Marquette's Gabe Grahek (38-4) in the final, 3-0.
"Seth didn't wrestle up to his capabilities and he knows it," said Sommerville. "Making it to state is not his goal. He wants to place there and to do that he is going to have to let his anxiety go and let his offense flow."
Agg got to state with the help of pins over Greendale/Thomas More (1:40) and Park (1:15) opponents before falling to Milwaukee Riverside's Shondell Stiff (32-5) on a technical fall in the final.
"Bryce wrestled really well until the final," Sommerville said. "He is happy to qualify for the state meet, but we need to change his goal to placing there."
Lara comes up just short
Sommerville noted that the Knights had one serious heartbreak as Joey Lara at 126 (23-15) earned a wrestleback for second place after beating a Greenfield opponent 10-4 in the third-place match, but Lara was pinned in 1:49 by Tech's Diremuis Gordon (28-11) ending his hopes of state.
"We really wanted Joey to make it to state," Sommerville said. "He has worked so hard and is an incredible student."
Other Knights at the sectional included: Alex Lechner at 106 (10-16), Jack Feffer at 132 (4-7), Alex Ferreria at 138 (13-23), Don Maas at 145 (19-19) and Jake Regazzi at 160 (9-22).
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