Austin Loos spent more time watching than wrestling this season.
That has allowed him to enter the postseason and this week’s WIAA State Tournament a little fresher than many of his counterparts.
Yet, for the defending Division 3 120-pound state champion, it’s also kept him out of competition which could factor into his drive to win a second straight state title.
“I’m lacking, I wouldn’t say experience, but the feel of competition this year,” Loos said. “The big matches I’ve (not gotten to wrestle) like at On The Water, that’s where it’s a disadvantage
“But it’s good in a sense in that I’m still hungry, not burnt out at all. … Sometimes when you have all of those matches in, you’re kind of wore out.”
Loos has just 19 matches under his belt this season because of his battles with a nagging knee injury, while the other 11 wrestlers in his Division 3 126-pound bracket are averaging more than 46 matches each this season. In fact, the next fewest to Loos’ 19 matches is Edgar’s Devin Lemanski who is 42-0.
Still, what Loos is missing in mat time this season, he more than makes up for with his experience. He knows what it takes to make it to the state finals and win a state title.
Yet, this is the first year that he enters the state tournament with nearly all eyes in the bracket on him.
“I’ve never really been the bull’s-eye. I’ve always been the arrow going after the bull’s-eye, I guess. It’s different,” said Loos, who earned a first-round bye by winning a sectional title and will face the winner of Jackson Margis (34-11) of Coleman and Alex Colbeth (38-11) of Clear Lake on Friday morning. “I’m using my experience from last year for this year, but go in with the mentality that this is my first one.”
Loos has qualified for state in each of his four years at Lourdes and placed second as a sophomore before winning last year’s title.
Yet, despite all of that experience, he admitted that winning the sectional title on Saturday was still a special filling.
“I say it’s a thrill. You have to start somewhere with your goal,” Loos said. “You have to make it to state first before you can do anything there. So it’s kind of like a stepping stone.
“I just have to do what I do. I have to go out and have fun, just attack, wrestle like I do in practice and I think I will bring it home.”