Meicher settles for 4th at state

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Middleton’s Kevin Meicher (right) finished fourth at state at 152 pounds./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

MADISON — This was not how Kevin Meicher envisioned his weekend going.

But sometimes, reality gets in the way of fantasy.

Now, Meicher’s challenge will be coming back better than ever.

Meicher, a junior wrestler at Middleton, was chasing his second WIAA Division 1 state title in three years at the Kohl Center last weekend.

But Meicher lost in the semifinals at 152 pounds Friday night and eventually settled for fourth place.

Afterwards, Meicher — who entered the tournament 43-0 and ranked first in his weight class — was extremely disappointed, but already motivated for the 2019 season.

“I’ll talk it over with the coaches and learn from my mistakes,” Meicher said after the tournament. “Next year I’ll be coming back more motivated as ever.”

Middleton senior Dion Huff also qualified at 195 pounds. But Huff dropped his first round match to Kettle Moraine’s Josh Nowak, 5-2.

“(Huff is) Middleton’s first African-American state qualifier,” Middleton coach Kent Weiler said. “It’s Black History month. That’s pretty cool.

“I look at that and I look at him and his character. He’s a great kid. His family made a commitment to move to our area from Milwaukee before his freshman year. They took a leap of faith and said they wanted their kids to have a good education in a good school.

“He was a very good wrestler for us and had a very good career. I’m glad he got to come down here and be able to say for the rest of his life that he was a state qualifier.”

The state meet was nothing new to Meicher.

Meicher won the state title at 126 pounds as a freshman and was second last year at 138 as a sophomore.

On Thursday, Meicher defeated Oconomowoc junior Keagan Lazar, 8-4, in the preliminary round at 152 pounds and won an 11-2 major decision over Oshkosh North senior Dalton Holmes in the quarterfinal round.

During Friday’s semifinals, though, Meicher lost to eventual state runner-up senior Zach Lee of Kaukauna, 5-3.

Lee got a takedown late in the first period for a 2-0 lead. Lee then chose down in the second period, and got an escape to take a 3-0 lead.

Lee got another takedown for a 5-0 lead when Meicher took a shot late in the second period. Meicher chose down in the third period and got an escape point and a late takedown to close within 5-3.

But Meicher couldn’t make up the deficit and suffered his first loss of the year.

“I got to my offense perfectly, but I just couldn’t finish it,” Meicher said. “He countered everything I did. He’s a good wrestler. I just couldn’t finish my offense. His defense was better than my offense.”

Weiler believed the 152 pound weight class was one of the toughest at state. He noted that Lee moved down from 170 pounds earlier in the year where he won the Cheeseman Invitational in Kaukauna.

“When you get down that much (5-0) it’s tough,” Weiler said. “There’s only six minutes in a match. The escape was good. He made that choice on his own. That was good and he got a late takedown, but they had a pretty good game plan.

“We did, too. We knew what was going on. When a kid (Lee) comes down from 170 pounds to 152 after winning one of the toughest tournaments in the state, you know he’s a tough kid.

“When the first takedown came, it was late in the period. So we didn’t have a lot of time to get a score back and finish on our feet. They did exactly what they should in a wrestling match. If you start on your feet and get a takedown, you finish on top. You don’t finish on the bottom. You dictate the match. Getting up 5-0, that’s a big hole.”

Meicher defeated Sauk Prairie junior Bryant Schaaf for the third straight week, 1-0, in a consolation round match on Saturday morning. But Meicher admitted he was far from his best after losing just one night earlier.

“Once you get to the third day and you’re wrestling in the morning, it’s such a long weekend and your head needs to be on the right track if you want to stay winning,” Meicher said. “I don’t know, mine just was out of it.”

Added Weiler: “It’s hard to recover when you want to win a state title and you get beat in the semifinals. It’s hard to recover from that. He came back this morning a little bit sluggish against a kid that he’d majored last week in the sectional finals. I don’t think his head was in it.”

Meicher then lost his third-place match to Whitefish Bay sophomore Dajun Johnson, 5-3, and finished fourth.

“The last match, my head just wasn’t in it,” Meicher said. “There was something about (losing in) that semis match that just got me out of it.”

Weiler understood the challenges that came after Meicher fell short of his title dreams.

“I don’t believe this philosophy, but a lot of people believe if you’re not first, you’re last,” Meicher said. “He wrestled strong and he wrestled hard, but he didn’t wrestle his best at all.

“It shows character to come back and wrestle hard, but losing takes a little want out of it. You’ve already put everything into it and lost. You lose in the semifinals, you don’t get a chance to wrestle in the finals. It’s that simple. You’re done, the best you can do is third.

“Nobody remembers the second, third or fourth-place guy. They remember the champion.”

While Huff didn’t approach a championship, he’ll always cherish his state tournament experience.

“It was a great feeling to be competing at the Kohl Center for the first time,” Huff said. “The crowd was amazing. It was a great experience. You could tell which matches the crowd was into. I appreciate the opportunity to compete there.

“Coach told me to leave it all on the match and obviously my goal was to win. So I just went out there and tried to wrestle my match.”

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