A rare feat for any high school athlete is the chance to play in state championships all four years of his or her career.
The Mineral Point wrestling team, a squad finishing second in the WIAA Division 3 tournament on March 6 and first in the three previous years, gave ample opportunities to its student body to achieve such a feat.
“Growing up, we always wrestled together and freshman year we started to have a little good thing going,” said senior Trevor Yager about the privilege of wrestling for Mineral Point. “It was hard work to get where we were.”
Seniors Dylan Schroeder and Trevor Yager were two of those fortunate wrestlers to get the chance. However, it almost didn’t happen for Yager who wrestled for the first time in the team finals since mid-January. He pinned Coleman’s Mason Mergener in 40 seconds in the 140-pound weight class.
“My favorite memory would be this year when I broke my ankle and came back to win in team state finals,” said Yager, who wasn’t cleared until the Monday before the team finals began. “…I felt like I still had something to prove, but winning (in the finals) put (the thoughts) to rest.”
Yager and Schroeder finished 3-1 in team state wrestling finals by both winning against No. 1 Coleman in this year’s state title match. Schroeder defeated Jacob Engels with a 3-1 decision in the 130-pound weight class.
“I’m still happy with the way it finished,” said Schroeder on Mineral Point not winning their fourth title in a row. “I am really happy to come out of the wrestling state finals with a 3-1 career record, and we have nothing to be ashamed of. It would have been nice to win, but you can’t complain about being runner-up at state.”
Although Mineral Point couldn’t win, they still have one of the most impressive runs in Division 3 state team wrestling. Athens was the only other school to win three consecutive titles (1993-95) since the WIAA changed the format to dual meets in 1992.
“I felt we worked the hardest all four years,” said Schroeder on why Mineral Point finished so strong in the past four years. “We busted our butts in the wrestling gym, but this year we just got beat by a better team. You have to hand it to (Coleman).”
Coleman was the top-ranked school this year; the first year in Schroeder and Yager’s careers Mineral Point wasn’t the No. 1 team in Division 3. Trying to become the first team to win four titles in a row should have held immense pressure; especially trying to do so against the team everyone favored to win the title. But you wouldn’t ever know it talking to the Mineral Point seniors.
“I didn’t feel like there was any pressure on us,” said Yager without a pause. “…It would have been cool to pull the upset, but I am pleased with our team. Sometimes, there will be a team better than you. The best you could ask for is to give it all you can give.”
Yager feels accomplished with his team state finals record, and it attributes his success with how he handled the pressure. He said it feels nice to know he could “handle any situation with whatever the deadline pressure” he may face.
High school sports tend leave these marks on its athletes. It not only strengthens an individual physically but mentally as well. While Schroeder feels the time of wrestling with his friends and the fan support through the past four years made him “a better person,” Yager will use what he learned and try to coach high school wrestling one day.
Perhaps, he will do so at Mineral Point, where he and teammates like Schroeder had the privilege to wrestle for a title every year.