Seth Gantz couldn't wait for Thursday afternoon, and for good reason. The Waukesha West senior is not only going to be competing in the prestigious WIAA Division 1 state high school individual wrestling tournament at the Kohl Center in Madison, but at the same time he's going to be wrapping up a highly successful high school athletic career.
When he hits the mat in the opening round at 3 p.m., Gantz said he's not going to be holding anything back.
"This is probably it for me," Gantz said. "I've had a lot of fun competing in sports at West, and it's been a great experience. This is my last chance. I'm going to go out there and make the most of the opportunity. I know how tough it is at state meet, but I'm really looking forward to the challenge."
Gantz, sporting a 34-7 record, will meet Eau Claire Memorial senior Jonah Goss in the opening round in the 145-pound class. Goss is 31-3 on the year. Should Gantz be successful in his first two matches, he'll most likely face off against two-time state champion Alex Dieringer of Port Washington in the semifinals. Dieringer is one of the winningest wrestlers in state history.
This will be Gantz's second state tournament appearance. As a sophomore in 2009, he advanced to state in the 130-pound class and lost in the first round to Michael Kellen of La Crosse Central. Gantz finished that year with a 40-8 record.
Last year, Gantz suffered a neck injury in the second round of the regional, but still advanced to the sectional where he lost a close match to Jake Morrison of Oconomowoc.
"At the sectional I had no feeling in my right arm," Gantz said. "I threw him early in the match but couldn't feel my arm. I had him in trouble but because of my arm, I couldn't keep him in bounds and he got away. That was tough losing at the sectional seeing I had gone to state the year before as a sophomore."
If Gantz would be fortunate enough to win a state championship, he'd become the first wrestler in West history to capture a state title.
And yet, winning a state title is nothing new for Gantz. He was a running back this past fall when the Wolverines won the Division 1 state football championship at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
"We had a feeling all year we could do it," Gantz said. "Everything fell into place for us."
Gantz is wrestling with the varsity for the fourth straight year for the Wolverines. He wrestled at 130 pounds his first two years and competed at 140 last year. He said he's very comfortable competing at 145 this year.
"I was really nervous two years ago at the state meet," Gantz said "I was not only nervous about competing, but I wasn't sure I was going to make weight. I didn't eat for more than a day and still didn't know if I was going to make it. As things turned out, I was a pound and one-half under. But then I didn't bring any food and was starving.
"This time, I'm more prepared. I have no weight problems and I know what to expect. It's exciting wrestling at state."
Gantz played football this past season at 163 pounds. He said he had no problems getting down to 145 for the wrestling season.
He got started in wrestling in second grade and then got more competitive in fourth grade, taking in his first tournaments. His two brothers, Scott and Shawn, encouraged him to get going in wrestling.
"I took part in track as a sophomore, but I'm pretty sure I'm done in sports at West after the wrestling season is over," Gantz said. "It's been a lot of fun. I think I need a little bit of a rest."
Gantz said he'd like to wrestle in college and is currently looking at going to UW-Parkside. He said he's looking into a couple of other schools out of state as well.
Several Waukesha wrestlers have won state championships in the history of the WIAA individual meet, but none in more than a decade.
• Bob Kopecky, South, 1980, 180 pounds (33-0)
• Rich LaMarche, South, 1980, 155 pounds (33-0)
• Jim Semrad, South, 1980, 112 pounds (34-0)
• Jim Semrad, South, 1981 119 pounds (31-0)
• Ron LaMarche, South, 1981, 167 pounds (32-1)
• Cal Magnan, South, 1982, Hvwt, (30-3)
• Jeff Semrad, South, 1982, 119 pounds (30-0)
• Jeff Semrad, South , 1983, 132 pounds (27-1)
• Rod LaMarche, North, 1983, 180 pounds (33-0)
• Rod LaMarche, North, 1984, 180 pounds 29-1)
• Ryan Lewis, South, 1998, 152 pounds (40-0)
• Ryan Lewis, South, 1999, 152 pounds (40-0)
• Spencer Dominguez, North, 1999, 125 pounds (38-1)
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