Somerset's Garret Hecht is state wrestling medalist
The improbable became the possible for Somerset senior Garret Hecht.
As a sophomore, Hecht won five wrestling matches. As a senior, Hecht took his place on the podium at the WIAA State Division 2 Wrestling Championships as a state placewinner.
Hecht earned his state medal by taking sixth place in the Division 2 170-pound weight class at the 2018 state tournament on Saturday. Hecht finishes his senior season with a 38-12 record.
Somerset senior Preston Anez wasn't as fortunate at the state tournament. Anez missed much of the past month due to a shoulder injury and that lack of practice time showed as he lost both of his matches in the Division 2 152-pound bracket. Anez finishes his season with a 36-8 record.
Hecht has been on an incredible roll. When the calendar turned to 2018, he turned up his aggressiveness and he's been a relentless wrestler ever since. That carried into the state tournament, where Hecht pinned Jefferson senior Jake Neff (47-8) 2:34 into the opening round at 170 pounds.
"It was just domination, completely," Somerset coach Ali Peterson said of Hecht's opening match.
Hecht had the misfortune of running up against defending state champion Shane Liegel of River Valley in the quarterfinals. Hecht tried to carry the action to Liegel, but Liegel wasn't going to let that happen. Liegel pinned Hecht in 1:42. Liegel also pinned his next two opponents to win another state championship.
"He was at another level," Peterson said of Liegel. "We can't beat great."
The loss moved Hecht to the wrestlebacks. His first match was against East Troy junior Jake Dessart. The coaches reminded Hecht to stay on the attack and not let the loss to Liegel change his style. He didn't. Hecht went on the attack right away and pinned Dessart in 2:41.
Saturday's action pitted Hecht against two tough opponents. He opened against Viroqua sophomore Tyler Hannah, who was the third place finisher at 170 pounds as a freshman. Hannah was able to throw Hecht to his back for a pin in the third period. Hannah went on to his second straight third place finish at 170 pounds.
The loss put Hecht in the fifth place match against Ellsworth's Dalton George. George is a tough matchup for Hecht because he has a height and reach advantage and George was able to win the fifth place match, 12-3.
Peterson said Hecht was fully deserving of taking his place on the state wrestling podium.
"He wrestled phenomenally," Peterson said of Hecht's state tournament performance.
Anez entered the state tournament as a sectional champion, giving him a bye in Thursday's opening round. His opening opponent was Mauston's Jarrett Dolata (44-5), who was the top-ranked Division 2 152-pounder much of the season. Anez led after the first period 2-0 and was doing a good job riding Dolata in the second period. Anez let up on the pressure on Dolata for an instant and that was all it took. Dolata hit a switch and took Anez directly to his back, scoring the pin at 2:43.
Anez moved to the wrestlebacks, drawing Freedom junior Sam Peters (35-9), who would finish in third place. Anez put up a heartfelt battle, but couldn't match Peters' strength, losing 7-2.
For the past month, Anez has tried to recover from shoulder and rib injuries. Peterson said the lack of mat time clearly had an effect on Anez's state performance.
"He was in great shape when the injury happened," Peterson said, saying he thought Anez would have finished in the top five, and possibly the top three, if he were healthy.
Anez finishes his Spartan wrestling career with 114 victories.