Schlottke’s Future in his Hands

By Joe Shinners

    Billy Schlottke’s final goal this year rests in his hands, and his alone.

    One week after the Mukwonago wrestling star experienced extreme disappointment when his team lost a shot a berth in the state team sectionals following a loss to Arrowhead at regionals, Schlottke can now focus on a march toward another state individual wrestling title.

    That task continues this weekend at the Watertown Sectional, scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. The top two place-winners in 14 weight classes advance to the state individual tournament next weekend at the Kohl Center in Madison.

    Schlottke, the top-ranked 152-pounder in the state, wanted it all this year – Mukwonago present at the state team tournament for the fourth consecutive year and another individual Division 1 state title.

    Unfortunately, he’ll have to settle for the latter as he tries to add another trophy to his family’s collective mantle.

    “I’m a little upset right now,” said Schlottke after his team lost last weekend. “Right now, though, it’s my goal to win state. I’m excited. I’m taking it one match at a time. I’m not overlooking anyone.”

    Schlottke (38-0), the defending 152-pound Division 1 state champion, is one of five undefeated wrestlers at Watertown.

Also present is Arrowhead senior Nick Hucke (31-0 at 135), a two-time state champion, Mukwonago senior Brad Baus (38-0 at 189), Germantown freshman Jesse Thielke (39-0 at 112) and Waukesha North senior Jerick Kuester (24-0 at 145).

    Schlottke’s main competition at the sectional will come from Sussex Hamilton senior Jesse Hintz (32-5) and Arrowhead senior Torsten Nieminen (30-9).

    On a statewide level, Schlottke’s threat comes from Sauk Prairie senior Brett Ballweg (38-0). Others in the mix at 152 include Kaukauna junior Eric Vanevenoven (36-4), Muskego senior Jake Schilling (37-4) and Milwaukee Custer senior Dwayne Hale (26-2).

Mukwonago coach Andy Trudell isn’t worried about the competition this weekend or next weekend.

    “I don’t think he has to worry about anybody,” Trudell said. “He just has to go out and wrestle his style and be the aggressor. I’m not worried about anybody. It’s up to Billy to win the championship, and if he wrestles well, he’ll do so.” 

     Schlottke finished second at 145 in Division 1 as a sophomore with a 35-3 record, losing to Wisconsin Rapids’ Kevin Tritz by a 9-3 decision.

A year ago, Schlottke won the 152 title by defeating Merrill’s Aaron Erickson by a 10-4 decision to become the fourth member of his family to win an individual wrestling title. He finished the year 47-0 and led Mukwonago to the state team tournament. Now, he’s trying to become the second Schlottke with at least two titles.

It’s been a rough year for Schlottke and the Mukwonago athletic family with a tragic car crash to start the year, stops and starts from all the snowfall and a few nagging injuries. It has all added up to more pressure for Schlottke. 

“It’s been rough,” said Trudell. “But he’s a competitor, and I don’t doubt for a second that he’s going to win another state title. He’ll find a way to win when it matters.”

Trudell’s star wrestler has taken it all in stride, and kept the situation in perspective, including the nerves and high expectations from peers.

“I feel them before every match,” said Schlottke. “I probably have a target on my back because I’m a returning state champ. It’s a normal thing. Everyone gets nervous. It just depends how you handle it mentally.”

This article was first published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel