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Oak Creek wrestling coach Matt Sommerville wanted more.

Even after a school-record eight athletes qualified for the WIAA state individual tournament, which followed an overpowering victory over Kenosha Bradford in the state sectional team dual meet to advance to the WIAA state team tournament after several near misses in the past few years, yes, Sommerville still wanted more.

"It just somehow doesn't quite feel just right," he said. "When you're developing a program like ours that sends a lot of guys (to state) every year, you have huge expectations. You feel for the kids who don't make it. It's not an easy thing to talk about with the kid."

So that's why he felt bad for people such as John Wright at 195 pounds, who finished fourth in the WIAA individual sectional at Burlington on Feb. 18 and Brycen Hakes at 285, who lost a 7-0 shutout to a South Milwaukee opponent in the second-place wrestleback that would have put him in the state tournament.

But then Sommerville thinks about the WIAA state team tournament that the Knights qualified for Feb. 14 with the win over Bradford. That victory was more than a bit of a revenge over Bradford for the upset the Red Devils pulled in the state team dual last season.

Wright and Hakes will have major opportunities to advance the third-ranked in state Knights to a potential team title when Oak Creek takes on Greater Metro Conference champion and area rival Menomonee Falls in a quarterfinal match at the Wisconsin Fieldhouse in Madison on March 3 and 4.

Sommerville knows he will need everyone, state qualifier or not, to make some big dreams come true, so the practices will remain intense, and the focus will be tight.

Three-time state qualifier Mitch Landgraf, who won the 120-pound weight class at the Burlington sectional, can't wait.

"We're feeling ready," he said. "This is what we've been training for all year. It (the state team tournament) is a big step forward. This weekend (at the state individual tourney) could be a big momentum builder for us. Motivate us and push us harder."

Heading off to the Kohl Center in Madison this weekend for the state individual tourney will be first-time qualifier Randall Hunt at 106 (29-14 overall),  Landgraf at 120 (40-2), three-time qualifier Matt Berlin at 126 (40-2), three-time qualifier Veliko Kochiu at 132 (27-1), who's making his first trip with Oak Creek; two-time qualifier Joey Colla at 138 (36-6); first-timer Jesse Kovnesky at 152 (36-7), two-timer Nolan Paar at 170 (39-3); and first-timer Enrique Acevedo at 220 (35-7).

The state individual tournament will get underway at 3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, and will continue through the Saturday, Feb. 25, championship round.

Sommerville is pumped, to say the least.

"I love Thursday (the first day of state)," he said. "We're happy right now, but we're not satisfied. We're not sitting back. The kids are ready to keep this going."

They did substantially at the individual sectional Feb. 18. They advanced 10 into the semifinals, and eight of those made it to state.

Sectional champions included Landgraf, Berlin, Kochiu, Colla and Paar.

The biggest and brightest moment came from Colla, who, after two years of frustration against Kenosha Bradford's Marco Infusino (39-2), got him with a 6-4 decision in the final.

"(It was) just huge for him," said Sommerville. "He did all the things that he was supposed to. He started scoring in the second period, and even when he was up two with just a few seconds left, he was still shooting.. He kept the kid on his heels and got the win."

He also noted that Paar looked excellent in winning his bracket title and is ready for a strong state run.

Sommerville was also happy for freshman Hunt at 106, who worked to get down to that weight class and secured his berth with wins in the first two rounds over Racine Park and Racine Horlick wrestlers. "He's a very talented kid, just a little inexeprienced," said Sommerville. "Once he figures things out, he'll be dangerous."

The senior Acevedo was also a good story for Knights. He secured his berth with wins over Union Grove and Burlington opponents in the first two rounds. The Burlington win came in overtime.

"He didn't start wrestling until freshman year," said Sommerville. "At that time, some kids got hurt, and he was put into the lineup. He developed a passion for it, got into tournaments, and now here he is."

In short, despite the couple of near misses, it was a happy ride home from Burlington, said Landgraf.

"The bus on the way home was filled with laughs and good times," he said.

Sectional dual

It was also a good trip back from Bradford on Feb. 14 after the team sectional dual with Bradford.

The match was played straight up, starting at 106, and after nine bouts it was still tight with the Knights up, 27-20, but then Oak Creek ran the table in the final five matches and erased a lot of demons from last year's stunning upset.

Edwin Rodriguez at 170 (pin 0:38), Paar at 182 (injury default), Wright at 195 (4-0 decision), Acevedo at 220 (7-1 in double overtime) and Hakes at 285 (11-0 major decision), earned those decisive victories.

"That was a good one; the kids were really ready for that one," said Sommerville. "They just weren't happy to be there; they wanted to win."

Landgraf, who said earlier that the Knights wanted "to win every match" in that dual, was satisfied with the result.

"It was great this past week," he said. "We felt like we were prepared and knew what we were going to do."

Other wins in the dual went to Landgraf at 120 (pin 5:10), Berlin at 126 (pin 0:50), Kochiu at 132 (pin 3:21), Colla at 145 (4-0 decision) and Kovnesky at 152 (pin 1:22).

Sommerville sad the team is now ready for even larger moments.

"It felt good," he said. "The kids are are really excited. ...This is just huge for the program."

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