MADISON – Sometimes, confidence is everything.
Roughly a year ago, Two Rivers’ Chandler Donati was upended in the Eastern Wisconsin Conference championship match. So the argument could be made that, at the time, he wasn’t the best wrestler at his weight in his own conference.
Now he’s the best Division 2 wrestler in the state at 145 pounds.
Donati (24-3) beat Elijah Alt (41-12) of River Valley 8-2 in the state title match Saturday night at the Kohl Center, taking top honors at his weight in his first and only trip to the state tournament.
The senior wrestler said that, somewhere along the line, he learned to start believing in himself.
“The biggest thing that changed for me is my confidence,” Donati said. “Being a senior now and knowing my skill and knowing how good I am, I come into matches knowing that I’m more talented than the other wrestler and I know that I can beat them.”
Two Rivers head coach Paul Gehrke believes that Donati found his confidence in a pair of close losses at sectionals a season ago.
“Last year at sectionals, he lost one-point matches to both the state champ and the runner-up,” Gehrke said. “I think that kind of told him he’s good enough to be here. He just got confidence and he’s been working hard.”
Tied at 2-2 after two periods, Donati chose the bottom position to start the third. However, he took a 3-2 lead when Alt opted to give Donati the escape and start the frame from the neutral position.
“I actually expected it because I think he could tell I was tired,” Donati said. “I was tired. I’ll admit it. He got in deep on the double in the second period and I knew he was going to try hitting it again to get that takedown.”
Donati took his inherited lead and ran with it. He iced the match with a throw late in the period, winning 8-2.
“He shot in and I just drove into him and he kind of went over. It works sometimes,” Donati said with a grin.
“He’s real patient with what he does, but once he knows something is there, he’s really quick to get it,” Gehrke said. “It’s almost like a bear that catches fish out of water. He’s so quick. When a guy’s out of position he can put him right to his back.
“I think he saw him a little out of position and he hit it and sent him right to is back. That was the winner.”