Chilton/Hilbert 195-pound wrestler Austin Hephner, who placed second at the WIAA Division 2 state individual tournament, is Post-Crescent Media wrestling athlete of the year.
He finished the season with a 46-2 record, with his only defeats coming at the hands of East Troy’s Joey Dedick, including a 6-3 decision in the Division 2 state championship match.
School: Chilton High School.
Family: Parents, Timothy and Linda; sisters, Kalin, Sydney and Kelsey.
Career aspirations: Either business management or education.
Accomplishments: He took firsts at the Weyauwega-Fremont Tournament, the Willard Schmitt Scramble, Oshkosh on the Water, the Omro Invitational, the Freedom Irish Invitational — where he was the tournament MVP, the Olympian Conference tournament — where he was the conference MVP and his WIAA Division 2 regional and was second at his WIAA sectional and state tournaments. It was the second straight year he placed second at the state meet.
It had to be disappointing to take second at state, but how proud are you of your season?
“I’m just kind of happy I was able to go through it. At beginning of the year, I wasn’t sure I could because of my shoulder. I was pretty happy with the way it ended up.”
Your team also made it to team state. How special was that?
“It was kind of bittersweet. I didn’t even get to wrestle because they forfeited to me. As a team, it was pretty nice. It gave the other guys a chance to go down there and experience that. It was a good experience to have.”
What’s more important to you, a pin or a technical fall?
“Oh, pins. I don’t get many tech falls. I figure if you can go out there and pin the guy, you might as well do that. If you can pin him, just go out and pin him.”
How important were your high school coaches in your development?
“They were backing me all the way with my decisions. They got me to a few camps I needed to go to. They were definitely a big part. I would take their answer and they’d let me run with it. They let me be my kind of person.”
What is your favorite wrestling move?
“Oh boy, probably the half (Nelson).”
What will be your fondest memory of your high school wrestling career?
“That’d be probably when we beat Wrightstown. That was the first time we did it since about 2000. Also, my junior year, making it to state. I wasn’t expecting it.”
What advice do you have for young wrestlers?
“Just stick with it. Work on your takedowns and go to as many summer camps as you possibly can.”
What will be your lasting memory of Chilton High School?
“Probably the teachers. They all like their jobs. They’re always happy. I had a really good group of friends. Everybody backs you in Chilton. They come to all the sports. They want you to do well. They are just like a family.”
You will be attending Bemidji State to play football. Have they told you what role you will play?
“I’m not 100 percent sure. All depends if I put on some weight. I may play outside ‘backer or I may redshirt.”
Favorite part of wrestling?
“I like the fact that it’s a team sport, but you earn it yourself. You go out there and go earn it.”
Favorite opponent to wrestle?
“This year, has to be Will Browning from Brillion. I know the guy really well and we’re pretty good friends.”
Favorite sport other than wrestling?
Favorite football team?
“I like the New York Giants.”
Favorite baseball team?
Favorite basketball team?
Favorite hockey team?
“I don’t really watch hockey all that much.”
Favorite actor or actress?
“Probably Will Farrell.”
Favorite time of year?
“Probably summer. I like going out fishing, swimming, hanging out with my buddies.”
Favorite fast food?
“Probably pumpkin pie or cheesecake.”
Favorite video game?
“Probably Madden or NBA.”
Favorite musical artist?
“I really listen to a lot of stuff.”
“Biggest role model is my dad.”
“Probably weightlifting, hanging out with my buddies, camping down by the lake, tubing, skiing.”
What do you like to do in your spare time?
“I have a lot of spare time, usually. Sit and hang out with my friends.”
“That’s probably the toughest question. I like them Frooties.”
Gerald Hoerth, Chilton/Hilbert wrestling coach: “Austin is a good kid to work with. He is very down to earth. He sets his goals and gets after it. He is an outstanding young man to work with. He is going to be missed. He is a very outstanding young man. It has been a very, very fun four years with him.”
— Dan Kohn: 920-992-1000, ext. 305, or firstname.lastname@example.org