GREEN BAY – Trevor Turriff always takes 10 deep breaths to calm himself down before he wrestles.
The De Pere senior likely needed to do the same thing last week when he was initially informed his team wouldn’t be able to wrestle in the postseason.
After beating Bay Port in a dual on Feb. 2 for the first time in several years, Turriff and his teammates were given the next day off of practice as a reward in finishing in second place in the Fox River Classic Conference.
They weren’t expecting in place of practice to have an impromptu meeting and being told by De Pere athletic director Jeff Byczek that the team had been ruled out of the postseason by the WIAA due to a possible scheduling violation.
The scheduling circumstance was self-reported to the WIAA by the school, which was able to settle it through an assignment of its varsity and junior varsity events to be allowed back into the postseason later that night.
Needless to say, it was a wave of emotions for wrestlers like Turriff.
“To look at something I’ve been having my heart set on for the past six years and not being able to compete for it was devastating,” Turriff said. “When they reimbursed us back with this I knew I had to leave it all out on the mat.”
Turriff did that on Saturday by winning a second straight WIAA Division 1 regional title.
The 160-pounder won his weight class at the Green Bay Preble regional with a second-period pin over Pulaski sophomore Lucas Gracyalny.
“He’s really focused,” De Pere coach Matt Kincade said. “He’s laser focused on what he’s trying to accomplish.”
Turriff, ranked No. 3 in D1 for his weight class by WIWrestling.com, is aiming to become the Redbirds’ first state champion since 1994 when Matt Manders claimed the program’s only WIAA state title.
Turriff (39-2) advanced to state last year at 145 pounds after winning De Pere’s first sectional title in 10 years. He was 44-2 and highly ranked heading into the Kohl Center at Madison, but lost both of his matches in his first state appearance.
He’s hoping to return to the venue this year and enjoy a much longer stay after bulking up in the offseason.
“What mainly works for me is my speed,” Turriff said. “The heavier the weights, the slower the guys, so I knew if I could get strong as I am and still have my speed I could do a lot better.”
The Redbirds’ matched a program record in qualifying 10 wrestlers for sectionals for the second straight year. The top four individuals from each weight class at D1 regionals advance to sectionals.
Freshman Sam Bruss (106), junior Max Bruss (132) and sophomore Charlie Hooyman (182) also won regional titles for De Pere. Junior George Lopez (113), freshman Andrew Lopez (120), junior Austin Esser (126), junior Trevor Van Oss (138), sophomore Tommy Kratz (170) and senior Travis Lueck (195) advanced to next Saturday’s sectional at Kaukauna as well.
“There’s a lot more energy and a lot more support behind us,” Max Bruss said about the program’s success in recent years.
De Pere finished as the regional runner-up to Pulaski, which won its second straight regional championship by edging the Redbirds 209-199.5.
“Our guys are buying into a process,” said Kincade, who is in his third year at De Pere.
“We put a process in and they buy into it. When they buy in goods things happen. They’re putting in a lot of work. They’re putting in a lot of extra time in the offseason and it’s showing on the mat. I’m proud of them for the progress. We’re definitely not there yet, but we’re getting there.”
– firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @andrewpekarek.