After his controversial suspension from the WIAA was lifted in court, a Waterford (Wis.) wrestler earns a chance to win another state title

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After his controversial suspension from the WIAA was lifted in court, a Waterford (Wis.) wrestler earns a chance to win another state title

Wrestling

After his controversial suspension from the WIAA was lifted in court, a Waterford (Wis.) wrestler earns a chance to win another state title

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RACINE – From the court to the mat, the last two weeks have been victorious for Waterford sophomore Hayden Halter.

Halter, the top-ranked wrestler in the state at 120 pounds by Wisconsin Wrestling Online, advanced to the Division 1 individual state meet next weekend with a sectional title on Saturday at Racine Horlick.

Just eight days prior, Halter received an injunction from a Racine County Circuit Court judge to lift a suspension given by the WIAA that would have kept last year’s 106-pound state champion from wrestling in any postseason competitions.

After making statements in the court and on the mat Halter delivered another after a 7-1 decision over Waukesha South’s Joey Rozanski in the sectional final match Saturday.

“A lot of people have been talking a lot about it, hoping I was done for the year and saying stuff like, ‘Oh, I’m not going to state,’ ” said Halter, who transferred to Waterford after competing for Burlington as a freshman. “Now that I am, they’re quiet. It’s a good feeling.”

Initially, Halter’s season looked to be over after he received two unsportsmanlike penalties toward the end of his victory in a Southern Lakes Conference championship match against Union Grove’s Cade Willis on Feb. 2.

The first call came in the closing seconds of the match, when the referee awarded a point to Ellis for an escape. The match was already in hand, but Halter appeared to question the call as he lined up to shake hands seconds later at the conclusion of the match, video of the match indicates.

Accounts of what was said differ, with some at the meet telling the Journal Sentinel they heard profanity coming from the mat, but Halter maintained Saturday that he “said nothing wrong, just asked what the call was.” The judge, in placing the injunction, said that he heard no profanity.

The second unsportsmanlike call came moments later. On his way off the mat, Halter flexed his biceps toward the crowd, which the referee ruled to be a taunting action toward opposing fans. Halter said that he was motioning toward his father.

“I’ve been flexing at my dad after winning for a long time,” Halter said.

WIAA rules mandated a one-match suspension for Halter, which would have made him ineligible for the regional tournament at Pewaukee last Saturday, thus ending his season.

The Halters, however, hired a lawyer and took the case to court, where a judge issued a restraining order to block the suspension last Friday.

The WIAA can appeal the decision at a later date and, if successful, could revoke any victories Halter gathers this postseason.

But on Saturday, Halter noted that he doesn’t see that happening.

“I don’t think they really wanted to fight it anyway,” he said. “With the court thing, (the WIAA) didn’t even watch the video of the match or fight it too much, so I don’t think they have much interest in it anyway.”

This season marks two straight years of controversial calls in Halter’s matches. A year ago, after winning a match against Holmen in a team sectional final while at Burlington, Halter flexed his muscles toward the Vikings’ crowd, leading the referee to dock the Demons one point. Burlington went on to lose the match, 27-26.

On Saturday, there was a different type of concern if Halter’s season would continue when he appeared to injure his shoulder midway through the second period of the championship match. After a couple of minutes talking with a trainer, he remained in the match and didn’t surrender another point the rest of the way.

“I just tweaked it a bit, over-extended it,” Halter said.

A wild few weeks will continue in Madison next weekend as Halter attempts to repeat as a state champion.

“I think at this stage, absolutely, there’s probably a target on my back,” Halter said. “Stuff like this, in my life, people have hated me before. Like last year with Holmen, there’s always going to be hate for the people that win.”

After subdued celebrations following his victories at regionals and sectionals, Halter might bring back the muscle flexing at state.

“I’ve been trying to keep the emotions in me, which is tough to do because I’m just excited,” he said. “There have been kids here today that did what I did and they didn’t have the same outcome, so I just have to watch it. But at state, I’ll probably bring back the celebration.”

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After his controversial suspension from the WIAA was lifted in court, a Waterford (Wis.) wrestler earns a chance to win another state title
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