Knoebel closes with tourney wins
By now, this is old hat for Hamilton wrestling standout Nick Knoebel.
The senior, who finished his career with the third-most wins in the Chargers' storied history, won two of his four matches at the WIAA Division 1 individual state meet in Madison over the weekend and ended the year at 37-6.
With a win over Muskego's Connor Price in the opening round, 7-3, Knoebel staged a bit of an upset to kick off the tournament at 152 pounds.
"That could have been my last match ever, which is what I was thinking going into it," Knoebel said. "I lost to that kid pretty handily the last time we wrestled (in the Pewaukee Invite earlier this year)."
Price - ranked No. 4 in the state heading into the final week of the season - came away with a 6-2 edge Jan. 26. But this time, Knoebel was the victor and advanced into the quarterfinals.
"In the first period, he shot right away, he had my leg, and that's actually a position I'm kind of comfortable with," Knoebel said. "He had my leg for a long part of the first period, but I was able to get him down to the ground and get a takedown. That set the tone for the rest of the match. Favorite part of that match was turning him to his back, the crowd kind of erupted, and that was pretty awesome."
Knoebel fell to Rory Shine of Badger in the quarterfinals, 10-7, though he rallied back from a 4-0 deficit. The Hamilton senior added a 10-1 win over Cody Elsbury of Burlington before falling via pin to highly ranked Travis Hettinga of Wausau West in the backdraw.
Knoebel came away with 120 wins, behind only Josh Pinter and AJ Morgan in school lore. He ends his career with three conference championships and three trips to the state meet.
"The consistency is No. 1," coach Doug Pulvermacher said. "He's been a reliable member on varsity since walking in the door as a freshman. You know exactly what you're going to get out of Nick, hard work and a challenging partner and someone who doesn't like to lose. He's a good teammate, and I'm extremely proud."
Knoebel went 0-3 at the state meet as a sophomore and junior.
"This year I got used to the crowd and used to being at state," Knoebel said. "Just how huge it is out there can be kind of nerve-racking the first couple times you go."
Knoebel, who plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater for business, said this is probably the end of the wrestling road for him.
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