Crone back on top as state wrestling champion
Arrowhead senior wins state title
Andrew Crone was never seen as a lock.
When he won the WIAA Division 1 state wrestling title as a sophomore two years ago, it came against undefeated Ben Thornton of La Crosse Central, and so it marked a bit of an upset for the Arrowhead 103-pounder with five losses. Two years later, with an injury-hampered state tourney in between, Crone was again competing for a state championship against an undefeated wrestler, top-ranked Joe Umlauf of Wausau West at 132 pounds Saturday in Madison.
Unlike Ben Askren, Nick Hucke and Jake Sueflohn - the other three Arrowhead wrestlers to win multiple state titles - Crone never wore the spotlight of a wrestler favored to win the whole thing. He'll gladly take his place among the elite in Arrowhead history, anyway.
With a 7-2 decision at the Kohl Center, Crone came away with his second state title, the capstone to a superb four-year career that now dovetails into a role with the University of Wisconsin wrestling team.
"Best feeling in the world," Crone said. "It's my last high school match in the world, so I wanted to give it 100 percent, and I came out on top. I did exactly what I expected to do as well as I did."
Crone fought a nagging back issue at last year's state meet, when he lost two of four matches and did not place. He looked just fine one year later, finishing the season 42-2. His lone losses came against George Fisher of Marmion Academy in the Cheesehead Invitational championship match and to Larry Early of Oak Park/River Forest in the Oak Park Invitational. Both wrestlers are from Illinois.
"If you have an easy path (throughout the year), then I haven't done my job," Arrowhead coach Jeremy Miller said. "The goal is to test your record. Reality is, most are going to get a loss here or there and you're going to have to learn from it. Losses that force you to reflect and kind of look at where you're at. It's not like Andrew had any kind of blowout loss, but it did force him to look at where he's at and adjust some things. Sometimes when you have that zero on the end of your record, you keep doing what you're doing, and that's not necessarily where you need to be. A lot of guys have a one at the end of (their record at the state meet) without a state title. There is a possibility to go undefeated, but it's very difficult."
Umlauf took second last year and was the favorite this year despite a loaded class that also included undefeated Gabe Grahek of Marquette.
"Just because he was ranked ahead of me didn't mean I didn't expect to beat him," Crone said. "I've beaten lots of ranked kids before."
The title was the 16th in Arrowhead wrestling history.
"There've been a lot of really good wrestlers in history here, so to be included in that group is a great thing because they're the best of the best," Crone said.
Though Mitchell Berenz endured the disappointment of a loss shy of reaching the state semifinals at 145, the senior concluded a tremendous career by wrestling back for third place.
Berenz has four state-tournament appearances on hisresume, with a pair of third-place finishes and a fourth. After falling to Eric Schmid of Verona in the quarterfinal, 7-2, he won by comfortable margins in his final four bouts, including 7-0 over Jordan Gundrum of West Bend East in the third-place match.
"It's a testament to character if you can bounce back for third," Miller said. "I knew he was mentally tough enough to do that, but it's not easy. He has the reality of that disappointment. When you hit adversity, you learn from it and take it head on and keep going."
Miller said Berenz, who has had his own share of injuries during his wresting career, at one point considered walking away from the sport. Now, he'll be competing in college at UW-La Crosse.
Yde scores upset
Freshman Aidan Yde took home a nice prize from his first state meet at 106 pounds, topping Whitnall's Anthony Senthavisouk in the opening round, 9-7. Senthavisouk was ranked No. 2 most of the year.
Yde fell to eventual state champion Nolan Shea of Milton in the second round, 10-2, and he battled one of the favorites for the state championship, Bee Lor of Wausau West, in a 3-2 loss in the backdraw.
Zach Barbee fell to Kirk Zylke of Mukwonago, 3-2, at 160 pounds in the backdraw.
"They left it all out there and can walk off with their head held high," Miller said. "It could have very well gone the other way. I don't think they should feel ashamed at all by the tournament they had."
Cory Cinelli dropped his lone match at 126.
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