MADISON – Joe Ziolkowski is just doing what he does best in his bid to win another championship.
The D.C. Everest senior defeated Sauk Prairie’s Eddie Smith 3-0 in a Division 1 semifinal Friday at the Kohl Center, and has not let an opponent score a point in three matches so far in the WIAA state individual wrestling tournament this weekend.
“I’ve always had a great defense in wrestling,” Ziolkowski said. “The one thing I have been working on is my offense, because I knew my defense was there.”
A first-period takedown was all Ziolkowski would need as he improved to 47-0 and moved into the championship round for the second straight year.
Ziolkowski is vying to become Everest’s third two-time champion. Josh Habeck won the 119 pound title in 1996 and won at 125 pounds the next year. Gilling won 130 pound titles in 2003 and ’04.
“It feels great, right where I was last year,” said Ziolkowski, who faces Waterford’s Max Fischer (31-0) in the title matchup. “I’m going to be a little used to the pressure. I’m going to be nervous, but I have been there before. I’m just going to stay focused and wrestle as if it was just another match.”
Merrill’s Mason Reinhardt scored a 16-2 major decision over Muskego’s Brady McFarland in the 170 pound semifinals, and advanced to a state championship matchup for the second straight year. The Bluejays senior lost a 6-3 decision to Wausau West’s Travis Hettinga in the 160 pound finals.
“This year I’m definitely more focused (going into the championship),” said Reinhardt, who improved to 51-1. “Last year I was more like, ‘Oh, my gosh, look at all the lights. I’m in the finals.’ This year I’m on a mission.”
Bluejays teammate Scott Arneson lost a 12-5 decision to a Burlington’s Josh Bird in the 132 pound semifinals. Arneson (49-3) still has the chance to finish as high as third. He faces New London’s Scott Cook in a consolation matchup Saturday morning.
Reinhardt, a senior who will wrestle at Wisconsin next year, faces a challenge in the finals. Hartford Union junior Beau Breske is a two-time state champion and improved to 53-0 with a 7-1 decision over Middleton’s Taggart Haase.
Reinhardt has looked unstoppable in the tournament so far, as the major decision over McFarland was the second he has registered this weekend to go along with a pin.
He remained on the attack throughout the matchup with McFarland and nearly got a pin in the closiing seconds of the the third period.
“I just went out and did what I do every match. I didn’t change anything — same warm up, same stuff I eat nutrition-wise,” Reinhardt said. “I just went out there and tried to give everything I’ve got.
“I’m going to treat the finals like any other match, and hopefully it’s a positive outcome.”
Tim Johnson can be reached at 715-845-0731. Find him on Twitter @timmyjo11