Preview - Hucke Learns Lessons

By Joe Shinners

    Arrowhead senior wrestler Nick Hucke is learning a tough lesson as he awaits the beginning of his final season.

Considered by many to be among the top four wrestlers in the state this year, Hucke idly sat as the rest of his teammates began the season last weekend. Hucke is serving the final weeks of a suspension due to an athletic code violation from last August.

The two-time Division 1 state champion pounded the competition last year, posting regular-season victories over two state champions en route to winning the Division 1 130-pound title a year ago with a record of 50-0.

In the 130 final, Hucke defeated Pulaski’s Johnny August by an 18-3 technical fall to win his second title. He finished the tournament with two technical falls and two major decisions.

That came a year after he won the 125 title the with a record of 41-10 in a surprising title run that prompted many to question his abilities on the mat.

No one is now, especially after he finished fifth at the Junior Nationals over the summer as the only freestyle wrestler in the state to place in that age level at the tournament in Fargo, N.D.

Now, however, he anxiously awaits his return to the mat, this year at 135.

    “I definitely let the team down,” said Hucke. “I was a team captain going into this year. I’m still trying to be a leader. I don’t want some mistake I made to hurt the team. I’m just going to go out there and wrestle.”

    Arrowhead will need him. Hucke has a 121-29 career record, but his remarkable improvement from his sophomore year to his junior year was impressive. There wasn’t a wrestler in the state at 130 a year ago that could handle him on the mat.

    Missouri and Wisconsin offered scholarships, and Hucke finally settled on Missouri, a school that has landed several top Wisconsin wrestlers in the past five years.

    “It was really close between the two,” said Hucke. “I just felt like Missouri was a good fit for me. I’m glad that’s over.”

    Arrowhead coach John Mesenbrink will be glad to see Hucke back on the mat.

    “We’ve got some things that we are working on as far getting him ready to wrestle on the next level,” said Mesenbrink. “There will be challenges for him this year. I know he’s happy that his (collegiate) decision is done. Now he has to focus on his season, making good decisions and getting good grades.”  

Area Top 10

1, Mukwonago

2, Arrowhead

3, East Troy

4, Milton

5, Muskego

6, Wisconsin Lutheran

7, Burlington

8, Oak Creek

9, Pewaukee

10, Milwaukee Custer

Crossface State Rankings

    Division 1: 1, Wisconsin Rapids; 2, Wausau West; 3, Kaukauna; 4, Ashwaubenon; 5, Stoughton; 6, Arrowhead; 7, Stevens Point. Others receiving votes: Mukwonago, Port Washington, Pulaski, Muskego, Merrill, Milwaukee Custer, Wauwatosa.

    Division 2: 1, Luxemburg-Casco; 2, Ellsworth; 3, Lodi; 4, Wrightstown; 5, Sheboygan Falls; 6, East Troy; 7, Seymour; 8, Oconto Falls. Others receiving votes: Mosinee, Meillsville, Dodgeville, Pewaukee, Adams-Friendship, Waupaca, Tomahawk, River Valley, Westby, Lancaster.

    Division 3: 1, Cadott; 2, Mineral Point; 3, Pittsville; 4, Coleman; 5, Brillion; 6, Random Lake; 7, Shell Lake; 8, Ladysmith. Others receiving votes: Iowa-Grant, Cashton, Laconia, Edgar, Cedar Grove, Oostburg, Clear Lake, Riverdale, Boyceville, Peshtigo, Auburndale, Kewaunee, Marshall, Cambridge, La Crosse Aquinas, St. Croix Central.

Individuals to watch

Billy Schlottke, sr., Mukwonago: 47-0: Won Division 1 152 title in second championship appearance. Joins Arrowhead’s Nick Hucke as one of the top wrestlers in the state who will compete in the area. Last year knocked off Luxemburg-Casco senior Zac Cibula, a three-time Division 2 state champ, top-level wrestler in the state.

Jesse Theilke, fr., Germantown: Begins high school career with a wealth of Cadet National experience and is one of the top freshmen in the state this year. Will wrestle at 112. Ranked No. 1 among Cadets in freestyle and Greco-Roman and No. 2 in folkstyle (high school) in nation.

    Derek Olson, so., Muskego: Olson was the top freshman in the area a year ago. Finished fourth Division 1 at 130 with a record of 45-5. 

David Witkiewicz, sr., Whitnall: Finished 45-3 a year ago and qualified for the Division 1 state tournament for the second time. 

Chesten Kesselhon, jr., East Troy: Two-time state qualifier went 49-5 last year and finished fifth at 171 in Division 2.

    Steve Sharpe, sr., Kenosha Tremper: Qualified for D1 state two years ago at 285 and posted 31-1 record at 215 last year before being suspended for athletic code violation prior to state.

    Pat English, sr., Wauwatosa: Three-time state qualifier finished 33-8 a year ago at 130.

Darius Jennings, sr., Milwaukee Custer: Advanced to the state semifinals a year ago before finishing fourth at 112 pounds. Strong second half of the season helped Jennings finish with a 45-11 record. 

    Jeff Lemmer, sr., Milwaukee Bradley Tech: Two-time state qualifer finished with a record of 48-2 a year ago at 152.

    Kevin Zeitler, sr., Wisconsin Lutheran: Qualified for state a year ago at 285 and finished with a record of 32-6.

    Brad Baus, sr., Mukwonago: Two-time state qualifier finished fifth at 189 with a record of 42-7 a year ago.

    Jake Sueflohn, fr., Arrowhead: The 119-pounder proved at the season-opening Oconomowoc Duals by going 5-0 that he will be a force in the area this year.

Trevor Weinkauf, sr., Waterford: Qualified for state at 171 a year ago and finished with a 39-5 record.

Conference previews

    Central Lakeshore: Random Lake returns 10 wrestlers from a team that fell one victory short of the D3 state team tournament last year. Ozaukee is led by senior Shawn Flom. He finished fourth in D2 at 140 with a 43-12 record.

     Classic Eight: Mukwonago, ranked No. 1 in the area, beat Hartford, 39-31, to open the season after winning the league dual and invitational titles and advancing to the state team tournament last year. The Indians, who have won the league four consecutive years, are favored to win with Arrowhead, another state team qualifier last year, trying to get its lineup together. Waukesha West has strong lower weights and should be a threat later in the year.  

    Eastern Wisconsin: Sheboygan Falls knocked off Campbellsport, 50-23, to open the league season and finished third at the Luxemburg-Casco Duals. The Falcons have five returning conference champions and seven individual state qualifiers back from a team that advanced to the Division 2 state team tournament a year ago. 

    Greater Metro: West Allis Central was supposed to be the top dual team in the league again this year, but Brookfield East pulled off a 29-28 upset victory over the Bulldogs to open the year. Menomonee Falls will also contend for the dual title. 

Lakeshore: Wilmot won both the league dual and invitational titles a year ago, but suffered heavy graduation losses. Westosha Central is the favorite this year.

Midwest Classic: Milwaukee Heritage Christian has six returning conference champions and is seeking its sixth consecutive conference title.

Milwaukee City: Milwaukee Custer returns four conference champions and three state qualifiers from the team that swept the league titles a year ago. Bradley Tech, though, won the DeBraie Tournament with a 5-0 record to open the season and will contend for the league dual title this year. 

North Shore: Port Washington has won the past six conference champions and is favored again after reaching the semifinals of the state team tournament a year ago. Germantown, young and improving, may be the only team that can catch the Pirates. 

Southeast: Muskego has dominated the conference tournament in recent years, but Oak Creek and Franklin — two team state tournament qualifiers a year ago — have been the league’s top dual meet teams. Burlington, however, is a young team on the rise as is Kenosha Tremper. This will be one of the most competitive dual meet races in the area.

Southern Lakes: East Troy, which went 4-1 at its own dual tournament last weekend, won the league title a year ago and nearly advanced to the Division 2 state team tournament. Former league powerhouse Milton should challenge for the title.

Wisconsin Little Ten: Wisconsin Lutheran won the league tourney title a last year, its first team title ever in the Little Ten and became one of the most improved teams in the area. Lutheran returns 11 starters. The biggest coaching change in the area sees Steve Best take over as head coach from Don Kreuser at Hartford, which is favored to win the league dual title.

Woodland: Wauwatosa was supposed to win the league dual title, but Pewaukee opened the season with a 39-31 victory over Tosa in an upset. Expect Greenfield and Whitnall to also challenge for the title in another tight area conference race.

Dates to remember

    Dec. 6: Hartford at Oconomowoc, 6 p.m. – Key early Wiscoinsin Little Ten dual. Arrowhead at Mukwonago, 7 p.m. – Matchup of the top two teams in the area.

Dec. 8: Hartford Duals, 10 a.m.—Brookfield East, Hartford, Muskego, Pewaukee, Milwaukee Marquette among the teams to attend; Battle on the Bay, Bay Port, 9 a.m.—Mukwonago, Franklin, East Troy and Beaver Dam will be among the 15 teams; Marlette Scramble at Menomonee Falls, 9 a.m. 

Dec. 12: Brookfield East at Menomonee Falls, 7:30 p.m. – East could nearly seal the Greater Metro Conference dual title with a victory.

Dec. 14, 15: Ed Stech Invite, West Allis Central. West Allis Central, Whitnall, Hartford, Mukwonago, East Troy, Waterford, Milwaukee Lutheran, South Milwaukee are among 18 teams participating in meet.

    Dec. 21-22: Milwaukee Hamilton Holiday Duals, 11 a.m.: Milwaukee City Conference dual title will be on the line with Custer, Hamilton, King, Riverside and Bradley Tech all present.

Dec. 28, 29: Oshkosh On the Water, UW-Oshkosh: 54-team individual tournament with wrestling beginning at 10 a.m. both days; Bi-State Classic, La Crosse Civic Center, 9:30 a.m.: 54-team invite includes Arrowhead, Cudahy start both days. Midstates Invite at UW-Whitewater, 9:30 both days: 41-team invite includes Burlington, Pewaukee, Muskego, Waukesha North, West Bend East, Burlilngton Catholic Central, Cedarburg, Milwaukee Marquette, Milwaukee Vincent, Nicolet and Ozaukee.

    Dec. 29: Badger State at the Alliant Center, Madison.

Jan. 3: Muskego at Burlington, 7 p.m.

Jan. 9: Greenfield at Pewaukee, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 11-12: Cheesehead Invite at Kaukauna (starting time TBA). Milwaukee Lutheran Invitational: Private schools invitational with 16 teams, starting time TBA.

Jan. 17: Oak Creek at Franklin, 7 p.m.

Jan. 18: Hartford at Wisconsin Lutheran, 6 p.m.

Jan. 19: Zelinski Memorial Duals, 9 a.m., at Whitnall. Tom Janssen Invite at Wauwatosa West, 9 a.m.; Zelinski Memorial Duals at Whitnall, 10 a.m.

    Jan. 24: Port Washington at Germantown, 6:30 p.m.

This article was first published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel