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They beat on each other and make each other better in practice everyday.

Germantown's Mason Wheeler at 138 pounds and Waymon McNeal at 145 will head to the WIAA individual state meet looking to make some serious noise.

Both won their respective classes in the WIAA Slinger sectional on Feb. 18, as the Warhawks had a competitive day. Earlier in the week on Feb. 14, Germantown competed in its first WIAA state team dual sectional championship, falling to Slinger, 53-21. The Owls advanced to the state team tournament, March 3 and 4.

The glass is definitely more than half-full for the Wahawks as far coach Jeff Szohr is concerned.

"All year long we believed we had at least two kids who could go to state, and they were Mason and Waymon," said Szohr. "This was a big weight that Waymon (a senior) took off his shoulders. He's been carrying it around for three years. They both benefited from each other (in practice), especially Waymon for how physical Mason is.

"They're going to go up there, and they're going to battle."

They'll need to, as the draws they've been handed are in a word brutal.

The 10th-ranked Wheeler (43-4) will draw powerful sixth-ranked Racine Horlick sophomore Marco Infusino (39-2) in his first-round bout when matches get underway at 3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, at the Kohl Center in Madison. On the other side of his four-man first-day bracket is the third-ranked Drew Fjoser of Sauk Prairie (33-4) and fourth-ranked Nathan Lichtfuss of Horttonville (35-8)

Sixth-ranked McNeal, if it can be believed, has it even harder, as he faces third-ranked Jaden Winchel of Sparta (38-3) while on the other side of the four-man bracket is second-ranked and defending state 138 champ Garrett Model of Stoughton (43-5).

Wrestling will continue through the championships on Saturday, Feb. 25.

Wheeler earned his berth with wins over Oshkosh West (pin 3:25), Sheboygan South (1-0 decision) and West Bend East (pin 1:42) opponents. Szohr said the South wrestler in the semifinal had a severe nose bleed problem, and that led to numerous frustrating delays to try to stop the blood.

"I think the match got stopped about 30 times," he said. "I looked up at the clock, and I think it lasted something like 27 minutes. It was ugly, but he was able to ride him out. Mason's just a special kid."

McNeal, who has been frustrated at sectional three straight years, broke through in a big way this day. He pinned an Oshkosh West opponent (0:52), tech-falled a Beaver Dam foe (3:55) and pinned a Slinger wrestler (1:43) en route to dominating the class.

Tough losses in the Oshkosh on the Water tournament in December were keys to his success, Szohr said.

"He realized how good these kids out there were," Szohr said. "His cardio (fitness) is the best it's ever been and his confidence is sky-high. He's in a tough bracket, but I don't think these kids want any part of Waymon either.

"We're going downhill all the way now because we've put in all the uphill miles already."

The Warhawks had a couple of near-misses, as freshman Isaac Riddle (38-9) was third at 126.

"He had a great freshman season," Szohr said. "He's a very detail-oriented kid. He adjusted better than any freshman I've seen."

Senior Kevin Tamboli at 120 (30-14) ended his career with a fourth place finish.

"His final results do not define the challenges he has met," Szohr said. "He put in a lot of hard work, and he should be proud of that."

Tamboli finished with over 100 career wins.

Other Germantown wrestlers at sectional included Colton Birkigt at 106 (22-9), Jeff Brezonick at 113 (14-17), Eric Abel at 132 (25-14), Jerry Bagley at 160 (23-18), Jack Pluta at 220 (7-6) and Dominique Bennett at 285 (37-7). All lost first-round matches.

Szohr called it an honor to compete in the state team dual sectional championship on Feb. 14. He said it was going to be difficult to beat the powerful Owls, but a last-second illness to one of the wrestlers caused a cascade effect throughout the lineup and spoiled any hopes of an upset.

Earning wins for the Warhawks were Bennett at 285 (pin 3:22), Riddle at 132 (9-3 decision), Wheeler at 145 (pin 3:31) and McNeal at 160 (pin 4:32).

"It was a no-risk situation for us and a great opportunity," Szohr said. "It really shows where the program is at now."

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