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Mar, 2022

Hooker takes fourth at state wrestling, Schweitzer looks to build on first appearance

Jack Schweitzer took it all in, looking up at the Kohl Center and the crowd from the mat. The view was even better from the podium for senior teammate Kaden Hooker.

The two Waunakee wrestlers competed Feb. 24-26 at the WIAA Division 1 State Individual meet, with Hooker (34-9) placing fourth at 195 pounds after taking sixth a year ago.

There was a point this season where Hooker thought he might not get back.

 

“After my injury, there were a lot of emotions right away,” said Hooker. “I thought, ‘Uh, oh. There goes my season.’”

Hooker hurt his knee at the Bi-State meet in late December, losing by injury default in the third-place match to Wausau West’s Joseph Berens. Going 4-2 at state, one of Hooker’s wins was over Berens, a 9-5 decision in the state consolation semifinals.

“He didn’t get to finish [the match] back then, but he got to finish it this time,” said Warrior Head Coach Mark Natzke.

According to Hooker, after talking to his doctors and the team trainer, he was advised that he could return to action for regionals on Feb. 12. Hooker was able to get through regionals and sectionals to make it to the Kohl Center for a second time.

Even though he admittedly wasn’t 100 percent, Hooker scratched and clawed his way to the medal stand, defeating Kenosha Indian Trail’s London Kiser 4-1 in the first round.

Hooker was pinned by Beaver Dam/Wayland Academy’s Gabriel Klatt in 3:36 in the quarterfinals, but he bounced back to stick Nicolet’s Jose Medina Garzon’s shoulders to the mat in 1:24 in the first consolation round. Then, Hooker scored a 4-1 decision over Menomonee Falls’ Brayden Rosenow before defeating Berens.

In the third-place match, Hooker dropped a 5-1 decision to Appleton North’s Brock Arndt.

“I’d definitely say I was limited,” said Hooker. “Considering what happened, just being there was a great opportunity, just being able to compete. Being back at the Kohl Center, I’ll never take that for granted.”

That he was able to improve on his previous performance at state was even more gratifying.

 

“Getting better every year … that’s what you strive for,” said Hooker.

Natzke summed up the impact Hooker has had on the Waunakee program.

“To graduate and walk out of this wrestling room as a two-time state place winner, not too many Waunakee wrestlers have done that,” said Natzke. “There have been two-time state qualifiers. I don’t know the number of two-time state place winners, but there hasn’t been too many. It was a great weekend for him, considering what he had to fight through to get back on the mat.”

 

Schweitzer (36-14) wrestled at 220 for Waunakee, losing in the first round 7-1 to Monona Grove/McFarland’s Guenther Switzer. They had faced off previously this season, with each wrestler winning once. Switzer won the rubber match.

Due to computer problems, there was a delay in the start of his duel against Switzer.

“That made me enjoy the experience more,” said Schweitzer, who had more time to soak in the atmosphere. He admitted he was nervous in his first appearance at state.

Early on, Schweitzer was able to throw Switzer right away, but Switzer rolled through. Schweitzer didn’t get any points.

“This time, he wasn’t as aggressive,” said Schweitzer. “I thought I wrestled smarter, but my defense wasn’t as good. This definitely motivates me. I warmed up wrestling Kaden, and I had to sit in the stands. I wanted to be back out there. But hopefully, I can get back and place and place high.”

Natzke liked how Schweitzer competed.

“I was proud of his effort,” said Natzke. “He lost 7-1, but he didn’t back down. He beat that kid early in the year and lost to him at the end of January. He had a better match this time around.”

Switzer lost in the next round to the eventual state champ, wrestling back to eventually take fifth. For Schweitzer, a junior, his trip to state ended earlier than he hoped.

“Unfortunately, that’s the way things are set up,” said Natzke. “He’s still going to get another opportunity, and it serves as something to strive on and build on for next year.”

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