Two years ago, Luke Destiche was in a walking boot with nine screws in his right ankle at the Kohl Center.
This year, the Luxemburg-Casco junior is one step away from reaching the top of the podium.
After placing third last season, the top-ranked 220-pounder advanced to the finals of the WIAA Division 2 individual state tournament with a pin over undefeated and second-ranked Austin Roberts of Rice Lake on Thursday.
Destiche was one of three Spartans to advance to today’s 6 p.m. finals. Jordan Pardowsky qualified at 170 and Newton Smerchek will defend his heavyweight title.
Not only does Destiche have a chance to add to L-C’s 32 individual state titles, but he also can become the first member of his family to bring home the gold at state.
Fittingly enough, he got his opportunity by using the cradle pin he learned from his father, Dale, and three cousins, who were all state place winners for the Spartans.
“I made sure I had that one extra tight,” Destiche said. “I think from then to now I’ve gotten way better. To think two years ago I couldn’t even wrestle here, and now I’m in the finals. It feels great.”
Although he broke his ankle his freshman year, the junior bounced back in putting together two dominating seasons in which he’s garnered just as much respect and attention as the state champion behind him.
The L-C fans have even duplicated their Newt chant with a Luke chant.
“We joke that we’re the best 220-heavyweight combination in the state,” Smerchek said. “It’s so awesome seeing him in the finals.”
Having the pair of state finalists on the back end of their lineup has been a key reason the Spartans are in position to repeat as D2 state champions next week.
“It’s nice to have those guys on the top end,” L-C coach Bob Berceau said. “Luke is a strong kid. His hips are unbelievable. His legs are big. His arms are big. When he comes at you and throws a crossface on you, usually it’s going over.
“He had a good shot at being down here as a freshman at that weight if not for the injury.”
The Spartans had a chance to send four to the finals for a second straight year. However, Dan Dorner wasn’t able to get past top-ranked Joey Dedick of East Troy at 195.
Overall, the four opponents the L-C wrestlers saw in the semifinals were a combined 134-0.
Destiche’s opponent in the finals will be Freedom’s Reed Ambrosious, whom he has gone 3-1 against this season.
“I can’t wait to go get it,” Destiche said. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever felt before.”