The annual individual wrestling sectional occasionally shines a spotlight on wrestlers capable of making dramatic adjustments in just one week’s time. Marshall Rushton is one such example.
The West Allis Hale junior finished third at the regional one week earlier in his home gym, including a 5-2 loss to Brandon Harrison of Mukwonago.
At the WIAA Division 1 West Allis Central sectional Feb. 18, Rushton completely dominated a rematch, 16-6, to win the 138-pound sectional title and earn a spot at the state meet in Madison next week.
“I didn’t have the same mentality, but I changed it,” Rushton said. “I felt like I needed to improve on my shots because that’s how he got me (last week).”
Rushton also recorded a 3-1 win over the bracket favorite, Evan Sinda of Muskego, in the semifinal and reached his first state wrestling meet — though not his first state meet of any kind.
State in CC
“He was frustrated in that match at regionals, but there are not a lot of kids that can stay with Rushton for six minutes,” Hale coach Randy Ferrell said. “He was a state qualifier in cross-country — the first time ever he had run CC, and the first year he goes out for the sport, he’s a state qualifier. He’s that kind of kid.
“On paper, yes, (he’s an underdog),” Ferrell added. “He placed third at our regional and had a couple tough kids in the draw. In real life, Marshall Rushton is the hardest working kid by far in our room. He has the biggest heart, and if we could put his heart in all our wrestlers, we would be a state championship team day-in, day-out. When things click, he does really, really well.”
Rushton (42-6 on the season) will meet Sam Skillings of Menomonie (34-3) in his state opener at 3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Rushton was one of four West Allis Hale wrestlers punching their ticket to state, with each of the other three securing runner-up berths and even getting the good fortune of doing so without a wrestleback.
Junior Peyton Mocco locked horns with Shane Gantz of Waukesha West in one of the sectional’s highest-profile matches, a battle between two wrestlers with a combined three losses.
Mocco, ranked No. 1 in the state at 152 pounds, lost the battle, 7-5, but will still make his third trip to state.
“Peyton Mocco is a pure technician,” Ferrell said. “Every once in a while, you need to be humbled in order to look forward to bigger and better things.”
Mocco (42-3) will take on Nate Lorenz of Waunakee (42-2) at 3 p.m. Thursday in his opener.
Senior Charlie Wagner, meanwhile, had already booked a trip to the Kohl Center with his second-place finish at 113 pounds. Cody Welker of Waterford won the finals match, 9-3. Wagner was the only senior in the 113-pound field.
“At Oshkosh (earlier this year), I took seventh and beat some pretty high-caliber wrestlers there,” Wagner said. “I was a little nervous going at 113 this year rather than 106, which is what I was originally thinking of doing all offseason. But at 113, I performed really well at Oshkosh and then thought, ‘This could work out pretty well.’”
Wagner (41-9) will meet Grant Truesdale of Elkhorn (38-9) in his opener at Madison.
Senior Dylan Allen had the misfortune of facing one of the nation’s best wrestlers at 182 pounds, meeting Jared Krattiger of Waterford in the final. That match lasted 40 seconds, but Allen secured the second-place finish after the third-place match came down to the wire.
When New Berlin’s Jaron Radish — whom Allen defeated in the semifinals by a 5-2 score — held off a late takedown from Jake Mandella of Brookfield East, Allen was a state qualifier.
“It’s a dream,” Allen said. “It’s what everybody’s goal is, really.”
Allen (37-10) will challenge Beau Yineman of Neenah (41-1) in his opening match.
Allen has another specific goal in mind. His older brother, Jack Allen, qualified for state at 170 pounds in 2012.
“He needs to win a match at the state tournament to have a better record than Jack and take Jack’s name off our record board for individual weight classes,” Ferrell said with a smile. “He’s got goals.”
Ferrell said his coaching staff’s commitment has gone a long way toward bringing four wrestlers to state.
“We have seven other guys coaching on our staff who are there from when practice starts to youth practice to all that, and they continue to work daily,” Ferrell said. “We have four coaches going to the Slinger Youth Tournament (on Sunday), so all week is practice, plus youth practice, Saturday sectional and then catch a bus at 7:15 a.m. Sunday to work with little kids. That’s the devotion that my coaches have.”
Central shut out
Jeff LeFlore won a third-place wrestleback in sudden victory at 195 pounds, and Ed Jimenez won his wrestleback at 120 after a sudden-victory loss in the semifinal, but neither was afforded a wrestleback. It was the closest West Allis Central came to an individual state qualifier.
Dustin Diebitz at 170 and Darius Adkins at 220 both took fourth place.