Oak Creek wrestling team backs up league title with SEC tournament crown
Knights win four weight classes to capture first championship since 1996
You can't beat it and the Oak Creek wrestling team has it in abundance.
Behind a motivated leader in state-ranked 160-pounder Ben Hakes, the Knights have poured sweat, blood and effort into this season and it has paid off grandly.
They just reached the high point for the season when they won four weight classes and cruised to the title in the Southeast Conference tournament, their first league tourney title since 1996.
The championship book-ended neatly with Oak Creek's league dual meet title.
"It has been a great season so far," said coach Matt Sommerville. "Our kids have really outperformed everyone's expectations all year. It has been a long time since Oak Creek has won both the dual championship and the tournament championship in the same year. I believe it was 1990 the last time that happened.
"At the beginning of the year I thought we could be in the top two but I wasn't sure we had the firepower to be at the top and these kids have proven they deserve to be there. It takes a lot of effort and sacrifice for these kids to achieve what they have."
Hakes, who easily won the 160-pound class, agreed.
"In the off-season, there were a lot more people in the (wrestling) room, and a lot more people went to camps and tournaments," he said, "and this season the (practice) room has been 10 times better than I ever remember it being.
"Everyone is just working harder."
Now, there's another goal ahead for the Knights.
They enter the WIAA regional meet at 9:45 a.m. Saturday at Bay View as the favorite. If they win the team title they will advance to the state sectional dual meet against the winner of the Kenosha Indian Trail regional on Tuesday at Burlington for the right to advance to the WIAA State Team Tournament March 7 and 8.
Oak Creek's only trip to the state team tournament came in 2004.
"It's been a goal of ours since Day 1," Hakes said.
"That would be an unbelievable cap to an outstanding season," added Sommerville.
In addition, the top four finishers in each weight class at the regional advance to the WIAA individual sectional Feb. 22 at Racine Horlick for the right to advance to the individual state tournament Feb. 27 to March 1 in Madison.
Hakes is motivated for that event because he lost in the wrestleback at the sectional for the second state-qualifying berth at 152 pounds last year.
"That's what made me want to work harder (in the off-season) in the first place," he said.
That work resulted in a 214-point total in the league meet as Kenosha Bradford was a distant second with 178-1/2.
Hakes at 160, Andrew McIntosh at 113, Isaiah Robinson at 120, and Nate Mlodzik at 145 earned the individual titles for the Knights.
Hakes had a first-round bye and pinned a Kenosha Bradford opponent (3:49) and then beat a Kenosha Tremper foe, 13-5, in the final.
McIntosh also had a bye and pinned a Bradford opponent (3:55) and then edged a Racine Horlick foe, 5-3, in overtime for his crown.
Robinson beat a Bradford foe on a 12-0 major decision, then pinned Racine Case (5:00) and Racine Park (1:10) opponents for his championship.
Mlodzik had a bye, then claimed an 8-3 decision over a Racine Horlick opponent and pinned Franklin's Joe Finerty in 2:14 for the title.
Taking seconds for the Knights were Matt Berlin at 106, Sean LaBodda at 138, and Ross Agg at 182.
Other places included fourths from Josiah Wolf at 126, Emilio Paez at 152, Elijah Paez at 170, Jake Regazzi at 195 and Kevin Bohigas at 285.
Hakes said Sommerville has been a great coach all season ("Really devoted to wrestling," he said).
"(As a result) this is a very close camp," Hakes said. "The past couple of years we seemed to go through the motions. Now, everyone is helping everyone else out."
Sommerville graciously said it has been a team effort.
"My assistant coaches Terry Nachtigall, Mitch Pordon, and Josh Howard really deserve a lot of credit for this team's success," he said. "We had a core group of kids last spring commit to getting better and they came to the open wrestling and more importantly went to Ringers wrestling club and put in the time and effort to improve their technique.
"Now, it's tournament time and I'm looking forward to the challenge."
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