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Four march to the Kohl Center
Brodhead-Juda freshman Hunter Colden is the first freshman to qualify for state. Colden along with his father and coach Tim Colden are ready for a preliminary match tonight.

If you go

What: WIAA Division 2, 3 individual state wrestling tournament

When: Thursday, Feb. 25-Saturday, Feb. 27. Preliminaries at 7:15 p.m. today

Quarterfinals: 11:15 a.m. Friday

Semifinals: 7 p.m. Friday

Championship matches: 6 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Kohl Center in Madison

Tickets: Tickets are available at the Kohl Center, $8 per session

MONROE - Monroe freshman Kevin Klopfenstein and Brodhead freshman Hunter Colden's paths have crossed in youth wrestling tournaments before.

As Klopfenstein and Colden gear up for the WIAA Division 2 individual state wrestling tournament, their paths will draw near, but this time they won't cross in tonight's preliminary round at the Kohl Center in Madison, as the two are in different weight classes.

Both Klopfenstein and Colden have made instant impacts and have had historic seasons in their rookie prep wrestling campaigns.

"I still can't believe it. "It will be amazing," Klopfenstein said.

Klopfenstein (40-10) at 119 pounds will face a familiar opponent when he takes on Ellsworth senior Sam Huppert (31-8), who has been the state runner-up the last two years. Klopfenstein lost to Huppert in a hard fought match 4-2 in overtime at the Bi-State Classic in La Crosse earlier this season. Huppert, who is ranked fourth in the Wisconsin Wrestling Online poll, scored on a takedown in the extra session with about 10 seconds left to seal it.

Klopfenstein, ranked ninth, looks forward to the challenge of wrestling Huppert again.

"I just want to try to win my first match. I just have to come out strong, wrestle my style and go six minutes with him," Klopfenstein said.

Monroe coach Jeriamy Jackson said he knew the Cheesemakers were getting a good and experienced wrestler when Klopfenstein started this year, but he didn't envision a trip to state.

"It didn't even enter into my mind at the beginning of the season that he would go to state," Jackson said. "You hate to put that pressure on a freshman. We didn't even talk about that until after Bi-State."

Klopfenstein set a school record with 40 wins after he beat Lakeside Lutheran junior Riley Wingate, 1-0, to take third place at the Richland Center sectional.

"It makes me feel proud of myself," Klopfenstein said of setting the record. "I knew when I had 35, but I didn't think I would get close to 40."

It was just two years ago when Klopfenstein's brother, Kyle finished sixth at 145 pounds at state. Now Kyle is giving his younger brother advice as he enters his first state tournament.

Colden (39-6) at 145 will wrestle Pewaukee senior Mike Dusel (42-10). Colden is the first freshman to qualify for state and the first Brodhead-Juda wrestler to make the trip to Madison since 2005.

"I just want to go out there and win one," Colden said. "Then I will go out to eat and eat a whole bunch."

Colden like Klopfenstein started wrestling in kindergarten. The Brodhead youth wrestling program had just started up again and he's the first one to advance through and get to state since the program was revitalized.

"I was hoping to get someone there," Brodhead-Juda coach Tim Colden - Hunter's father - said of state. "I was hoping to get more than one person there. It's been an exciting week in our house. That's for sure."

The dual roles Tim Colden has as a father and coach can be challenging.

"It's harder on me than it is on him," Tim said. "It's harder for me to coach than for him to wrestle."

Hunter Colden hasn't wrestled Dusel before, but he said he has watched him online on Badger State Wrestling.

"I have seen kids better than him and I have beat kids better than him," Hunter Colden said.

Tim Colden isn't surprised by the success of his son and Klopfenstein.

"I have known Kevin all the way up through the youth wrestling club," Tim Colden said. "We have done the circuit just like they have. Kevin has had a great year."

When Jackson sees Klopfenstein wrestle, it's hard for him not to make a comparison to his older brother.

"You can see a lot of similarities in how they wrestle," Jackson said. "Kevin is a little further ahead in the timeline," he said as far as getting to state. That's unfair to Kyle because he had some knee injuries. Both of them like to use the fireman's carry move. Both of them like to use arm bars and ride."

Klopfenstein is a willing student with his older brother in his corner.

"He has given me some good advice to give it my all," Klopfenstein said of Kyle who attends UW-Platteville. "He keeps on supporting me."

Klopfenstein is confident the experience of wrestling Huppert before will be invaluable.

"I think it will give me an advantage," he said. "I know what he will do."

However, Jackson said that Huppert will make adjustments too.

"That's the great thing about wrestling," he said. "I think it's unfortunate that that is the match we got. I'm not saying we can't beat him. I would rather have someone else to start out with."

Since Huppert is a tall and lanky wrestler, Jackson said Klopfenstein has been working on takedowns and on his feet.

"He has a reach advantage," Jackson said. "He has a lot of leverage. We have to find ways to take him down. I feel like if we can get the first takedown, we can win the match."

Klopfenstein knows that his emotions will be sky high for the state tournament.

"I think I will get a little nervous before the match," he said. "Once the match progresses, I don't think I will be nervous."