For wrestling teams with young and inexperienced rosters, improvement throughout the long season serves as a primary focus.
Brookfield East was able to put a tangible result on its growth by winning eight of 12 matches in a 52-20 victory over rival Brookfield Central on Jan. 26 in the Greater Metro Conference dual-meet finale for both teams.
For first-year coach Andrew Mueller, it was a sign of how far the Spartans have come since a 66-7 loss to West Allis Hale in their first conference dual meet of the year.
"It was a great finish to our (dual-meet) season," Mueller said. "We started our season by getting our butts handed to us. We knew that if we met a group like that later in the season it would be a whole different match because of the work we've put in. We've come a long way. It showed tonight.
"That's the reason we coach, is to see those guys improve. The wrestlers have come in and listened. They are coachable. They've come in and put in the time. It is great to be a coach for a group like that."
Brookfield Central has also spent the season focused on development. Although it did not show in the final score against Brookfield East, Lancer coach Chris Demos has also seen his team progress from the beginning of the season.
"We're a completely different team from where we started," Demos said. "Unfortunately, we're just still very young. That can only be an excuse for so long, but what we got beat by was plain and simple — they were just more physical. That's what we have to go home with and think about."
Jacob Somlai opened the match with a pin of Joey Fritsch in 38 seconds at 195 pounds to give the Lancers a 6-0 lead. But Brookfield East then rattled off 28 straight points and did not look back.
At 220 pounds, Jacob Mandella recorded a pin of Andrew Hodgson in 2 minutes, 41 seconds. John Champe followed with an 18-7 major decision over Nick Leszczynski at 285 pounds, and Dylan Thavong pinned Max Miller in 36 seconds at 106 pounds.
After Lucas Mandella received a forfeit at 113 pounds, Stephen Multhauf earned a fall over Ben Vandenberg in 3 minutes, 15 seconds to put the Spartans up 28-6.
Colten Pucek later pinned Alex Uy in 5 minutes, 36 seconds at 138, David Holzem won 10-3 over Alex Craig at 145 pounds and Hunter Fischer claimed a 13-8 win over Matthew Aulgur at 152 pounds. Nick Martin closed out the dual with a 32-second pin of Sincere Tatum at 182 pounds.
Saif Ibraheem received a forfeit at 160 pounds.
"I'm disappointed Saif Ibraheem didn't get a match on senior night," Mueller said. "It was his last match at home, and they didn't send anybody out against him. It just shows how good he is. Jacob Mandella and John Champe wrestled really well. Those were there best matches of the year. Mandella was wrestling up from 195 to 220. Champe really stepped up against a real muscular, aggressive kid. That was a big confidence booster for him."
In addition to Somlai, Brookfield Central received a pin from Dayveon Martin, who needed just 40 seconds to take the fall over Callum Elliott at 132 pounds. Dhruv Patel (10-1 at 126 pounds) and Breck Duncan (11-0 at 170 pounds) won by major decision for the Lancers.
"Jake Somlai wrestled well," Demos said. "We don't have a ton of experience, so a lot of those guys I asked to fill in, they wrestled really well. Dhruv wrestled well. Dayveon wrestled well. Even Alex Craig at 145 and Matthew Aulgur at 152 wrestled well, but they were hurt by some big mistakes. Some of those guys wrestled well but just a little too late.
"We prepared and our game plan just wasn't in play. We also really needed the coin flip to go our way. As soon as that coin flip went their way, we were having to play catch up as soon as they started rolling. They have a young team, we have a young team.Their young team is just a little more experienced, and they wrestled well."
Both the Lancers and Spartans will wrestle at the Greater Metro Conference championships on Friday, Feb. 3. Brookfield Central will host the regional tournament on Saturday, Feb. 11.