Road leads to state for three Craig High wrestlers

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John Barry
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The road to the state individual wrestling tournament can be tough to navigate.

There are many obstacles to overcome along the way.

Janesville Craig's Airk Furseth, Zack Mulrooney and Aristide Serrano all took different paths to get there, but all three found a way to finish their seasons at state.

Furseth took the toughest route. The junior needed medical clearance from his doctor to compete at the regional meet after missing two months with a torn meniscus in his left knee. He admits he was only at about 75 percent at the regional meet, but he won the title there and followed that up with a dominating performance in winning the 106-pound title at the sectional meet.

Furseth will take a 22-1 record into Thursdays opening-round match against Al Kammeyer of Chippewa Falls and says he's back to close to 100 percent.

“I feel great, but it was really close as to whether the doctor was going to let me wrestle at all this season after I hurt my knee,” Furseth said. “He finally released me to wrestle for the regional meet, and even though he felt like that was pushing it, he left it up to me.”

Furseth enters state ranked sixth in his weight class and could meet top-ranked Ty Lee of Kaukauna on Thursday night in a quarterfinal match.

“I'm going up there to win state, or at least place in the top three,” Furseth said.

Mulrooney will cap off a stellar high school career this weekend, but the one thing that had eluded him was a trip to state. The senior won multiple state titles in the Janesville youth program and numerous tournament titles at Craig, but this is his first trip to state.

“Getting to state was always my goal, but I worked harder than I ever have this year because it's my last year of wrestling,” Mulrooney said.

Mulrooney takes a 30-8 record into today's preliminary match against Mason Stokke (40-3) of Menomonie. Stokke is ranked second in the state.

“I'm just going to go up there and wrestle to my strengths,” Mulrooney said. “I'm happy to have made it, but I want to keep wrestling and have a chance to medal.”

Serrano is the biggest surprise of Craig's three state qualifiers. The sophomore has only wrestled competitively for three years, and often times he is going up against opponents with more than 10 years of experience on the mat.

The soft-spoken Serrano, who is 34-12 on the season, said there has been a huge difference in confidence between his freshman and sophomore seasons.

“As a freshman, there were times where I felt like I didn't want to wrestle because I was frustrated,” Serrano said. “This year, I'm more mentally tough.”

Serrano had to fight his way into state by winning a second-place wrestleback match at the sectional meet, and he says his mental toughness was the difference.

Although Serrano is not among the favorites in the 160-pound class, he has been proving people wrong all season.

“If I'm on my feet and can use my quickness, I'm confident I can do well at state,” Serrano said. “I've just got to stay away from the front headlocks. That's what has hurt me the most.”

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