Aidan Medora has big ambitions. His ultimate goal is a lofty one for most wrestlers, but the Brookfield Academy freshman is anything but typical and is one of the best-kept secrets in the area.
"My ultimate goal is to be a four-time state champ," Medora said. "So, I have to get it done every year."
Medora has a realistic chance at achieving the first step in his goal this season, as he enters Saturday's WIAA Division 2 Regional at Lodi High School with a 29-2 record and No. 3 ranking in the D2 state rankings at 126 pounds.
Starting a sport
While wrestling isn't new to Medora, the sport is in its infancy at Brookfield Academy.
Knowing he needed to find a school to join as part of a co-op, Blue Knights athletic director Jon Kahle reached out to his counterpart at St. John's Northwestern Military Academy, Paul Havel.
Havel wasn't opposed to the idea, but since SJNMA doesn't usually add teams to the sports it sponsors itself, he had to run the idea past school president, Jack Albert. Once clearance was given, the co-op was born.
It was then Havel found out about Medora, a three-time Wisconsin Wrestling Federation state champion, three-time freestyle state champion, three-time Greco state champion and a 2016 folkstyle USAW All-American.
"That was after the fact, believe it or not," Havel said.
Medora entered his first season at the high-school level looking to dominate his weight class. He has done just that, compiling a 29-2 record and winning most outstanding wrestler at four of the five tournaments he competed in, including at the Mid-States Classic at UW-Whitewater in late December when he won a 6-5 decision over Elkhorn's Benji Peak, who is ranked No. 6 in Division 1, in the finals at 126 pounds.
"I tell you, it is hard work," Havel said. "He works hard. He is a very smart wrestler. He knows a lot, he works a lot and he loves the sport. He's improved this year just by how hard he works and the time he puts in. He just loves the sport, and he's really talented."
While there are two losses on his record, only one wrestler had actually beaten Medora in a completed contest.
His first loss came in the finals of the Badger State Invitational at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison on Dec. 17. Stoughton's Kaleb Louis, No. 5 in Division 1 at 126 pounds, downed Medora, 8-6, by sudden victory in overtime to claim first place.
"I needed to get to my stuff earlier," Medora said. "I was down in the first and got into overtime. I went big when I didn't need to. I lost it that way. If I were a little smarter, I probably could have won."
He then won his next 17 matches before being getting called for an illegal slam in the 132-pound championship match of the Midwest Classic Conference tournament on Feb. 4, causing an immediate disqualification.
Although he is ranked third in his weight class, Medora will have to earn his way to the WIAA Division 2 individual state tournament.
Medora should have no problem advancing out of the Lodi regional, but the Richland Center sectional will present a challenge. The two wrestlers ranked ahead of Medora -- Dustin Hatfield of River Valley and Chase Katzenmeyer of Evansville/Albany -- are in his sectional, as is fourth-ranked Aaron Bahr of West Salem/Bangor and Lodi's Colton Nicolay, who is honorable mention.
Hatfield is the reigning state runner-up at 126 pounds, while Katzemeyer took third at state a year ago.
Only three wrestlers from each weight class make it through sectionals in Division 2, meaning at least one of the top-four ranked wrestlers at 126 pounds will fail to qualify.
"Everybody knows if you coach long enough, rankings don't mean a lot," Havel said. "But that means you are going to have tough kids just to get to state. Some of those kids aren't going to state."
Medora has not faced any of the other top wrestlers in his sectional and isn't spending much time worrying about those opponents, instead concentrating on what he has to do to be successful.
"I want to get to my stuff," Medora said. "I want to know what they are going to do, but I want to focus more on what I have to do to beat them."
No matter what happens in the coming weeks, Medora has the combination of talent, work ethic and passion for a sport necessary to accomplish things well beyond the high school level.
It is that potential that leaves Havel with a giant smile on his face when thinking of the possibilities down the road.
"It goes beyond a state championship," Havel said. "That's something that's really cool. He makes our room better just being here. It is fun. The other kids enjoy it. They have kind of bonded. Brookfield Academy is our rival in our conference. That was something to think about, but it has worked great. That's the sport of wrestling."