Cain takes aim at state wrestling title

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Rob Reischel
Middleton senior Jake Cain is gunning for a state title this weekend./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld


If there’s one word that best describes Jake Cain’s mindset this weekend, it’s urgency.

Cain, a senior wrestler at Middleton High School, is back in the WIAA Division 1 state tournament for the third time in his magnificent career.

Cain fully understands, though, that this is his last — and best — chance at a state title. And the 138-pound Cain intends to make the most of his opportunity.

“This being my last season I'm essentially all in,” said Cain, who is 48-1 this season. “I have to win this year. No exceptions. That's not to say that it's going to be easy. At this point everyone is good and nobody can be taken lightly or overlooked.”

Cain qualified for the state tournament after winning his weight class at last Saturday’s Middleton Sectional. Middleton sophomore Shay Haase also finished second at 160 pounds and earned a trip to state.

The Division 1 preliminaries are Thursday at 3 p.m. at the UW-Kohl Center. The quarterfinals are Thursday at approximately 5:15 p.m.

The semifinals are Friday at 7 p.m., and the championships are Saturday at 6 p.m.

“He’s been in the state tournament before and he knows what to expect,” Weiler said of Cain. “He’s been right there before. There’s definitely a sense of urgency there.”

Cain certainly wrestled with that urgency at sectionals.

Cain opened with a 16-1 win over Holmen’s Zack Back. Cain then pinned Madison Memorial’s Darnell Richmond in the semifinals in 1:18.

In the title match, Cain edged Sauk Prairie’s Austin Powell, 4-3. Cain fell behind early, 2-0, but rallied back for an impressive win and his first-ever sectional title.

“Winning sectionals felt so great,” Cain said. “It's nice to finally win that.”

Cain now heads to the state tournament for a third time.

Cain lost his first two matches as a 119-pounder his freshman season. Cain finished fifth at 125 pounds his sophomore year, then was injured his junior year.

“I have to admit I got a little emotional after he won sectionals,” Weiler said. “After he missed last year with an injury, going back (to state) is pretty special.”

Now, Cain hopes his last trip to the Kohl Center is his best yet.

“I feel like I have to treat state a lot like sectionals,” he said. “One match at a time.”

Cain will have some company at state thanks to Haase’s big day.

Haase defeated Reedsburg’s Dylan Kuester, 15-0, in his first match. Then Haase pinned Holmen’s Tyler Westphal in 5:31.

Haase fell in the title match to Madison West’s Nick Annin, 7-5.

Haase was in an early 5-0 hole, but fought back and had Annin on his back in the closing seconds. But Annin held on and edged Haase for the third time this year.

Still, Haase improved his record to 33-10 and will head to state for the first time.

“We talked all week about the third time being the charm,” Weiler said of Haase’s match with Annin. “But Shay did a great job wrestling with him the whole way.”

Aside from that, it was a somewhat disappointing day for Middleton’s wrestlers.

Taggart Haase (170) opened by pinning Tomah’s Ryan Neal in 2:56. But Haase fell to Holmen’s Duncan McKinney, 5-0, and eventually settled for third place.

None of the other Cardinals at sectionals won a match.

Justin Swiersz (113), Brett Cain (120), Mike O’Shea (126), Brandon Best (145), Grant Laurent (152), Nathan Dresen (182) and Wyatt Cory (195) all lost their first matches and had their days stopped early.

“If everything went perfect, we might have got five through,” Weiler said. “But it didn’t happen.”

Still, Weiler is optimistic this weekend will be a memorable one for Middleton.

“I wouldn’t put anything past either one of these kids,” Weiler said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

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