Qualifying for the WIAA State Team Tournament never gets old for the Menomonee Falls wrestling team.
The senior-laden Indians proved that emphatically Tuesday, Feb. 14, in Pewaukee, as they overpowered Nicolet, 63-15, in the sectional dual meet final to earn their fourth state team slot in five years.
Falls coach Jim McMahon, who's always been a big fan of the team tourney, was a bit emotional about the Indians' workmanlike and thorough effort as well as their commitment to each other.
"I can't tell you how elated I am," he said. "It's always been about the kids and the team concept. Coaching is about relationships and these kids have great relationships with one another. It's just an honor to be able to coach and teach them. I'm just happy that the kids get to continue their season this way."
With the win, the Indians will advance to the WIAA State Team Tournament on March 3-4 in Madison. They will take on third-ranked Southeast Conference champ Oak Creek in a quarterfinal. The Knights overpowered Kenosha Bradford, 49-20, on Feb. 14.
In the interim, both Falls and Nicolet will look to qualify as many wrestlers as possible to the WIAA individual tournament when they take part in sectional competition Saturday, Feb. 18, at Oconomowoc.
The Knights were making their first appearance in the team state sectional dual and though coach Gus Kaufmann was not happy about the result, he realizes the effort was just a stepping stone.
"No one wants to get their butt kicked, 63-15," he said, "but we're still a real young team and this was all about experience for us. We're going to soak it all in and look to make this a habit. We want to be here (at the dual) again and again."
Meanwhile, for Falls seniors Austin Lasanske at 126 pounds and Brandon Schaefer at 195, both of whom have been on three Falls team state qualifying teams, the experience happily continues.
"It's always something nice," said Lasanske. "Every year is a little different, so this never gets old. You get to go up to Madison with your team and your buddies, you can't beat that."
"For me personally, this is very gratifying," said Schaefer. "We have a large senior class. We've all been here so long that it motivates us to go as far as we can all the time."
Schaefer said that McMahon always emphasizes keeping the pedal to the floor all the time.
"He said he's learned from hard experience you don't ever want to let up," Schaefer said.
The Indians did nothing of the sort.
They proved that right out of the gate, as Falls' Alec Lind pulled a bit of an upset with a 5-3 decision over the Knights' highly-regarded Ryan Kuesel at 113 pounds.
"Alec is just a kid who goes 110 percent all the time," said McMahon.
Form there on out, Falls was on a roll, as Matt Anderson at 120 (pin 2:28), Lasanske at 126 (pin 1:18), Eric Wunsch at 132 (pin 1:00) and Noah Dakouras at 138 (pin 1:57) simply overpowered their Knight opponents en route to a 27-0 lead.
The Knights got on the board when Jaren Yoder won on a pin in 3:21 at 145.
But Falls quickly ended any doubts of a rally as Henry Hansen at 152 (pin 2:14) and Josh McMahon at 160 (pin 5:21) bumped the lead up to 39-6.
The Knights got a little momentum when state place-winning 170-pounder Parker Keckeisen scored a pin in 2:25 and Collin Shea pulled out a 6-1 decision at 182.
But then the Indians powered right through to the finish line, as Schaefer at 195 (pin 12 seconds), Donald Eruchalu at 220 (pin 0:56), Logan Fallon at 285 (pin 2:33) and Ethan Pogorzelski at 106 (forfeit) put the finishing touches on an emphatic victory.
Kaufmann praised the efforts of Yoder and Shea.
"This is part of the journey but not the goal for us right now," he said. "Win or lose, it wasn't going to change our approach. We're anticipating two more full weeks of good wrestling."
For the Indians, it will be three weeks.
Schaefer understood what the Knights were going through.
"I remember the first time (in the dual), I was really nervous," he said. "Now I'm able to put all that out of my mind. We've been here before."
Coach McMahon agreed.
"I've been doing this long enough to understand it a little," he said. "They are on the rise and we all sort of cheer for one another at one point or another because we're all in this together. The matchups were just in our favor tonight and we took advantage of them."