Having graduated nine seniors from a year ago, Brookfield Central wrestling coach Chris Demos placed priority on having his young team learn how to compete in order to show growth as the season wore on.
Five Lancers were rewarded for their patience, as Ben Vandenberg, Dayveon Martin, Alex Craig, Matthew Aulgur and Jacob Somlai earned trips to the WIAA Division 1 West Allis Central sectional with top-four finishes at the regional hosted by Brookfield Central on Feb. 11.
"Going into the regional tournament, I had an idea that we could get up to eight qualifiers, and we ended with five," Demos said. "As a coaching staff, I am extremely proud of each of these guys. Ben, Alex and Matt have had a tough season and I know have had their doubts. Their records don't truly reflect how good of wrestlers they are, as they have had really tough competition this season."
After being pinned in his semifinal match, Somlai (34-10) wrestled back to place second at 220 pounds. He opened his day with a pin of Donoven Acevedo of New Berlin in 28 seconds.3
Somlai bounced back from a fall in 5 minutes, 51 seconds to Caleb Wright of Brookfield East to win 9-5 over Josh Wedesky of Kettle Moraine and pin Nick Lindsay of Waukesha South in 3:10.
"Jake is a great wrestler and has put in a tremendous amount of work," Demos said. "We moved him up to the 220 weight class to provide him the best chance to move on to the state tournament. Giving up almost 25 pounds took its toll, but he was in every match. In fact, he was in the driver's seat against Caleb, but the weight just wore him out."
Martin (27-11) took third place at 132 pounds. He pinned Tony Scaffidi of New Berlin in 3 minutes, 32 seconds in the quarterfinals before being pinned in 5:35 by Cole Acker of Wauwatosa. Martin bounced back with a pin of John Crawford of Kettle Moraine in 3:41 in the third-place match.
"Dayveon is one of the most athletic kids in the building and has a really good shot at moving on," Demos said. "I've seen him beat state qualifiers; he can wrestle with anyone."
Craig (13-18) followed a similar path at 145 pounds. He won by pin in 3:07 over Jacob Schmirler of Waukesha North in the quarterfinals and fell by tech fall to Brent Ehrhardt of Waukesha South in the semifinals before pinning Sam Mikulak of Waukesha West in 2:20 to place third.
Vandenberg (10-18) took fourth at 120 pounds, qualifying for sectionals with an 11-5 win over Turner Truttschel of Kettle Moraine in the quarterfinals.
Aulgur was fourth at 152 pounds, pinning Cheenu Moua of Wauwatosa in 3:38 of the quarterfinals before keeping his season alive with a 6-5 decision over Alan Stresing of Kettle Moraine in the fourth-place match.
The five Lancers wrestlers will compete at the WIAA Division 1 sectional at West Allis Central on Saturday, Feb. 18. The top two finishers in each weight class will advance to the WIAA state individual tournament at the Kohl Center in Madison from Feb. 23-25.