The myriad emotions of the WIAA Division 1 State Wrestling Tournament were all felt by Whitnall/Greendale's Nathan Hensley last week.
After winning his first two matches at 126 pounds, Hensley (48-3 on the season) dropped a tough 6-4 decision to Benji Peak of Elkhorn (45-2) in the semifinals on Feb. 24 at the Kohl Center, ending his chances at a state championship.
Hensley, though, went from the bitter disappointment of that defeat to the satisfaction of coming back and posting two big victories the next day to secure third place.
"That was definitely a roller-coaster ride," co-coach John Quinlan said, "and one that made me very proud to be associated with this young man. Many could have caved after coming so close to their dream of a state title and having it dashed, but to Nathan's credit, he refocused himself."
Hensley then notched a 10-0 major decision over rival Aaron Schulist of Mukwonago (34-5) in their third match in as many weeks to earn a spot in the third-place match.
He went on to tip top-ranked Mason Phillips of Eau Claire North (38-3) by a 3-2 count to climb back up to third place and a prime position on the podium.
In his earlier matches, Hensley beat Zak Nelson of Green Bay West (41-9) by an 18-3 major decision and blanked Austin Lasanske of Menomonee Falls (44-8) by a 7-0 score.
Hensley, who collected 32 pins this season, finishes his high school career at 140-14 despite missing his entire junior year with an injury. He won a pair of conference titles and a sectional crown.
"Every once in a while, you get a special kid that you simply don't replace," Quinlan said. "He was a great team leader for the younger kids to look up to. He was always there to put in extra work, help a teammate, be a role model, excel in the classroom and be everything you want in a student-athlete. He will sorely be missed and it was a privilege to be associated with his career."