By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Bittersweet bronze
Times photo: Mark Nesbitt Sugar River senior Ben Schmitt at 160 pounds defeated Kewaskum junior Bo Seibel 8-4 and wrestled back to take third place at the WIAA Division 2 state wrestling tournament Saturday at the Kohl Center in Madison.
MADISON - If Sugar River senior Ben Schmitt doesn't step on a wrestling mat again in college, he will know that he went out with two wins and a bronze medal at the WIAA Division 2 state tournament.

Schmitt said he's not sure if he wants to wrestle in college. He may turn in his head gear to focus on pursuing a career in art animation and graphic design.

If there was any doubt about how Schmitt would respond after his first loss of the season, in the semifinals Friday night, he answered it with an emphatic third-place finish. Schmitt (38-1), ranked No. 1 in the Crossface poll at 160 pounds, defeated Medford Area senior Seth Higgins 7-0 to win the bronze Saturday at the Kohl Center.

Even though he wrestled back to win the bronze, Schmitt couldn't forget an unfortunate turn of events from the semfinal Friday when Oconto Falls freshman Jacob Morrissey pinned him at the end of the second period and derailed his state championship hopes.

"I will never be completely satisfied," Schmitt said. "This will always haunt me. I should have been in the finals with Spencer."

However, bringing home a bronze medal from state in his final prep wrestling season might be one of Schmitt's most memorable moments.

"It's the best I could have done now," Schmitt said after he lost in the semifinals. "I will always know I could have done better."

He said beating Belmont-Platteville's Dusty Jentz in his first match back after missing his junior year and beating Marshall's Spencer Meinholz (54-4), the state champion, earlier this year are also some of his most memorable moments.

In the wrestlebacks, Schmitt defeated Kewaskum junior Bo Seibel 8-4.

Schmitt took a message from former teammate and University of Wisconsin wrestler Kalvin York to heart.

"Kalvin York told me to not make the same mistake he made last year," Schmitt said when York, who was ranked No. 1 lost at state and ended up finishing fifth. "I promised my coach that I would come back and win. I didn't want to break that promise. I knew this was my last chance."

Sugar River coach Peter Swenson was proud of the way Schmitt bounced back.

"He has never been in that position all year long," Swenson said of losing a match in the semifinals. "It was new to him. He came through. Wrestling is such an intense sport. We have to keep the kids loose. If you get caught up too much, it can ruin you.

Schmitt will visit the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design.

"This is it," he said of his third-place match at state to wrap up his prep wrestling career.

If Schmitt decides to wrestle in college, Sewnson is confident that he would fit right in.

"If he would do it at college, I know he would be very able to compete," Swenson said. "There's no doubt in my mind. Like his brother (Cole) said if he wanted to come up to Madison, he could probably hang with half the guys in the room. It's a huge commitment."