Shea nails state wrestling championship

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Craig Henquinet
Sunday, February 26, 2012
— Milton’s Landon Shea was ready to feast.

Following his 3-2 decision over Wausau West junior Joe Umlauf for the 126-pound individual state wrestling meet championship Saturday at the Kohl Center, Shea celebrated with a big dinner at Samba, an all-you-can eat Brazilian steakhouse near State Street.

Meanwhile, teammates John Wells and Garrett Whitehead were runner-up at 113 and 132, respectively.

Shea, a senior, led 2-1 after the first period with an early takedown, which caused a leg injury to Umlauf. Hobbled for the rest of the match, Umlauf regrouped with an escape in the second period. Shea countered with an escape with less than a minute remaining in the final period and held on for the one-point victory.

“I was going into that period thinking ‘I’m up right now.’” Shea said. “I had the advantage, and I have never been held down from the bottom. I knew I was going to get it. It was just a matter of when it was.”

After placing fourth a year ago, Shea kept it simple this year.

“I just thought it was a regular match,” Shea said. “I think that’s the best advice, just take it as a regular match. “

Now it is time to eat.

“We are going to Samba’s,” Shea said. “I have been waiting for this for the past three days. I will eat so much. I better be over at least 140 pounds. We have been saving up all our meal money for this.”

Elkhorn’s Jake Stilling also won a Division 1 state title at 170, defeating defending 160 state champion Zak Benitz of Wisconsin Rapids, 6-4.

Stilling held a 3-0 lead after two periods, but Benitz re-grouped to tie the match in the third period, until Stilling scored a takedown in the final minute and held off a late surge by Benitz for the decision.

“I stayed in good positions and kept my hips lower than his on that last block,” Stilling said. “I knew I had to push the pace and set up my shots, control the elbows and score when I could.”

To close out the match Stilling held off Benitz’s final move and lifted him off the mat in a bear hug to run out the final seconds.

“Me and (Benitz) both wrestle Greco, so I knew he was just going to try and pop his hips and get lower than mine,” Stilling said. “So, I just got mine lower and lifted him.”

At 113, Wells was looking for his second state title, but was denied after freshman Robert Lee (46-6) of Kaukuana countered Wells’ third-period attack with a pin at 5:13.

Milton’s final state finalist Garrett Whitehead led 4-1 after two periods but lost 6-4 in overtime to Nate Hennes of Hartford at 132.

With the match tied at 4-4, Hennes (46-6) wouldn’t allow Whitehead to escape in the final minute of the match and scored a takedown in overtime on the edge of the mat for the decision.

“I just couldn’t get out,” Whitehead said of his third period escape attempt. “In overtime, I got a shot and I couldn’t finish it. Then he grabbed my leg and I couldn’t get out of it.”

Last updated: 7:38 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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