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Schmitt, Malott seek state titles
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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

MADISON - Sugar River senior Ben Schmitt believed his breakout wrestling season and a trip to the WIAA Division 2 state tournament would come last year.

That's until he tore ligaments in his foot during football wiping out his junior year of wrestling.

"It killed me," Schmitt said. "It was terrible. Last year I felt like it was my year to make a name for myself. It was taken from me from football."

Schmitt (35-0), ranked No. 1 at 160 pounds in the Crossface poll, hasn't taken anything for granted this year. Schmitt's older brother, Cole wrestles for the University of Wisconsin. For Schmitt, watching former teammate Kalvin York, who also is wrestling for UW, at the state tournament last year, was agonizing.

"I could have been wrestling with him at state," Schmitt said.

Schmitt will wrestle Valders junior Caynen Klessig (34-10) or Bloomer's Levi Nayes in a quarterfinal match today.

Schmitt isn't the only wrestler seeking a medal. Darlington senior Devin Malott (38-2) at 119 is making his fourth-straight trip to state in Division 3. Malott, who is ranked fourth in Division 3, is still hoping to win that elusive medal.

Malott is the first four-time state qualifier in Darlington's history. He owns the record for the most career wins (146) and most career pins (71).

"His goal is just not to medal. His goal is to be a state champion," Darlington coach Tom Mathias said. "He's the top of the charts around here."

Malott will wrestle Brillion sophomore Brock Kasten (33-9) or Lomira senior Don Robinson (34-6) in the quarterfinals Friday.

Mathias said Malott has honed his technique as a wrestler in his four years and as a member of the Advanced Wrestling Club in Madison.

"His conditioning is exceptional," Mathias said. "He definitely has the tools. He has to put them to use now. I think he is capable of getting on top of the medal stand."

Malott will likely have to contend with Random Lake junior Justin Mudlaff (43-0), who is ranked No. 1 and has won state titles the last two years at 112 and 103.

"Everyone knows anything can happen at state whether it's good, bad or ugly," Mathias said. "If he can go in with that same aggressiveness and relentless attacking he had at sectionals, I think things will work out for him."