One of the primary drivers for Germantown wrestling coach Jeff Szohr has nothing to do with pins, victories or being the best you can be.
It's actually much more basic than that.
It goes like this: "Just be proud of the effort."
Szohr was on Feb. 3, when the Warhawks were just a body or two short of taking down North Shore Conference dual-meet champion Port Washington in the league tournament at Whitefish Bay.
Germantown got individual titles from Isaac Riddle at 126 pounds, Mason Wheeler at 138 pounds, Waymon McNeal at 145, Jerry Bagley at 160 and Dominique Bennett at 285 as they scored 217 points for their spot. Port, which had to overcome a rash of injuries in the past few weeks, scored 249 points for a clean sweep of NSC championships.
No matter, Szohr sees the glass as half full and aims to be a stealth candidate in the WIAA regional meet at 9:15 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, at Cedarburg. The top four finishers in each weight class advance to the individual sectional at Slinger on Feb. 18, while the team champion of the regional advances to a WIAA team dual-meet sectional championship against the winner of the Hartford regional at Oshkosh West on Tuesday, Feb. 14.
The winner of the dual advances to the WIAA state team tournament. Slinger dominated the Wisconsin Little 10 meet and is the regional favorite.
But Szohr is a confident man. He will get his 106-pounder Colton Birkigt back. Birkigt missed the conference meet because of the flu.
"I think we will surprise some people," Szohr said. "It's definitely attainable. All we have to do is our best."
In short, "Be proud of the effort."
The Warhawks displayed a lot of that in conference. One of the highlights of the day was McNeal's third North Shore Conference title. Only three Warhawk wrestlers have done that, Szohr said.
He earned a first-round bye and then pinned Grafton (2:52) and Port (2:20) opponents for his crown.
Wheeler continued his excellent season with his first NSC title. He too had a bye, pinned a Nicolet opponent (3:26) and then edged a Port foe, 6-3, in the final.
Bennett continued his stealth run through the 285 bracket. After a bye, he pinned Milwaukee Lutheran (2:46) and Cedarburg (4:56) opponents for his championship.
Szohr was happy for all three but was really pleased for Riddle and Bagley. Riddle, just a freshman, pinned Port (4:32) and Grafton (5:02) opponents for his title. He fought through a bad scratch on his nose in the final. Szohr said the blood running down the front of Riddle's nose and the subsequent smile on his face after he pinned the Grafton wrestler was the moment of the day.
"That's wrestling," Szohr said.
Bagley was a special case this season, Szohr said, as he came in heavier than he probably should have but worked to get down to the 160-pound weight class so the rest of the lineup in the upper weights could fall into place.
"He made a real commitment, and it was so good that he made this sacrifice for everyone else on the team,"Szohr said.
The payoff came on Feb. 3, as he defeated Homestead (9-0 major decision), Bay (7-4 decision) and Port (pin 3:21) opponents to claim his league crown.
"He pushed himself along, and he really made it worth his time," Szohr said. "When he won (that final), he just jumped up and pumped his fists."
Other good efforts for the Warhawks included Ryan Hoeft at 106 (fourth), Jeff Brezonick at 113 (third), Kevin Tamboli at 120 (third), Eric Abel at 132 (second) and Jack Pluta at 220 (second).
Szohr praised the efforts of Tamboli, Pluta and Kashawon Milton-Hollins at 182.
"We fell a little short, so we're going to have different goals this week," he said. "Winning the regional will be the goal. It's been the goal all season, so we hope we'll be at our best."