Cain exits in style

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By: 
Rob Reischel
Middleton’s Jake Cain (right) finished third at 138 pounds at last weekend’s WIAA Division 1 state wrestling meet./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

It was Saturday morning, and Jake Cain’s dream of becoming a state champion had ended.

Middleton’s standout wrestler had dropped a heartbreaker to Bay Port’s Alex Blaney in the WIAA Division 1 state semifinals just 15 hours earlier.

But the 138-pound Cain did what he always does. He put on his hard hat, went back to work and wrestled his tail off.

Cain returned to the UW Kohl Center Saturday, won a pair of matches, and notched third place. That was the highest finish at state by a Middleton wrestler since Ben Brummel won a state title in 2009.

“I mean, sure, I was really bummed about not being able to achieve my goal,” Cain said of missing out on a state title. “But when Saturday rolled around, I tried not to think about it as much. I knew I could still get third and I wanted to finish the season on a high note.”

Cain entered the tournament with a 48-1 record and was one of the favorites at 138. He showed why during Thursday night’s opening matches, too.

Cain pinned Mukwonago’s Tommy Kolasinski in his first round match in 1:19. Then in the quarterfinals, Cain edged West Bend West’s Jon Goetz, 4-3.

“Day One I was feeling pretty good,” Cain said. “I still had some of those big tournament jitters going on. It really felt great to get those first two out of the way and finally make it to the semis.”

In the semis, Blaney got an early takedown and Cain was fighting uphill the entire match. Cain battled back, but eventually dropped a 5-3 decision.
“My coaches and I had watched some tape on (Blaney) to get a feel for his tendencies and where his strengths and weakness lied,” Cain said. “It was a really close match throughout it's entirety. In my opinion the deciding factor was him getting that first takedown.”

Cain came back in the consolation bracket Saturday and edged Burlington’s Brody Fitzpatrick, 5-4. Then in the third place match, Cain edged Marshfield’s Mitch Hertel, 3-1.

“Jake wrestled so much better on Saturday than he did Thursday or Friday,” Middleton coach Kent Weiler said. “If we would have saw Saturday’s Jake Cain on Friday night, he would have been in the finals.

“He still wrestled well (Friday). But he didn’t wrestle the Jake Cain way that we know.”

Still, Cain’s terrific finish Saturday capped a sensational season in which he set a new school record for wins (52) and went farther at state than ever before. Cain, who was dogged by injuries earlier in his career, also stayed healthy from start to finish.

“It's nice to finally have a healthy season,” said Cain, who will attend UW-Madison next year and strictly focus on his studies. “Sure I didn't win a state title, but I'm proud of what I did accomplish.

“It's crazy to think that after 13 years it's all over. But I've had the opportunity to meet some great people through wrestling that I'll still keep in touch with.”

Weiler was awfully proud of Cain, as well.

“We knew there were five kids in the bracket that had the potential to win it,” Weiler said. “Jake didn’t get that … but to come back Saturday shows how tough he is and shows a lot about his character. He was a special kid and showed a lot.”

Middleton sophomore Shay Haase also reached the state tournament at 160 pounds. But Haase lost his first match, 9-6, to Tristian Luther of Mount Horeb/Barneveld.

Haase ended the year 32-11.

“He was very competitive,” Weiler said. “We were happy with his performance, getting there as a sophomore and getting used to it.

“We knew he could get there and be competitive. Shay wrestled incredibly well and got that good experience for next year.”

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