Central's White, Choinski snare state wrestling titles
Championships are West Allis Centrals fourth and fifth in school history
Various feelings were reflected in the face of West Allis Central senior wrestler Mark Choinski as he stood in the halls of the Kohl Center in Madison on Saturday night.
Joy and elation were certainly evident, along with a sense of relief and probably most importantly to him, a long-awaited sense of satisfaction.
Choinski had just claimed the WIAA Division 1 state championship at 138 pounds with a pin in 3 minutes, 24 seconds of senior Austin Fjoser of Sauk Prairie.
"I was not satisfied with the whole tournament until now," Choinski said. "Now I can feel satisfied. I told myself I'm not happy or satisfied with any of these wins until I reach the gold, and that's what I did."
That was Choinski's first state crown and the second for his Central team that evening, coming just minutes after sophomore Tyus White's triumph at 106 pounds with a 5-3 victory over fellow sophomore Ty Lee of Kaukauna.
A historic first
White and Choinski gave the Bulldogs their fourth and fifth state wrestling championships, and it was the first time in school history that Central won two state crowns in the same season.
Head coach Jon Nelson, who won one of the Bulldogs' previous state crowns when he claimed the title at 160 pounds in 2003, said, "this means our program has worked. We haven't changed anything. We make the modifications and the improvements year after year, but the program is the same. The goals are the same."
Nelson added that the primary goal is to teach the wrestlers life lessons.
"You put your mind to it, you can do anything you want to do," the coach said. "Mark Choinski started wrestling in seventh grade and went straight through the Bulldog program to (be a) state champion. He put his mind to it and believed in himself. He can now do this for anything in his life."
For Choinski, who finished 41-2, the state crown was the culmination of years of hard work and dedication.
"I put so many hours into this," he said. "All this pain, all the blood, all the sweat, all the tears; it's finally paying off. I have had injuries from torn hamstrings to torn MCLs, just everything, broken stuff. This is what I did it for, right here, and I finally made it."
White (43-2) was also overwhelmed by his accomplishment, saying, "it feels pretty good. I'm really overjoyed right now."
As an added bonus, the Central wrestlers received their medals from none other than West Allis wrestling legend Ed Stech.
Choinski uses double-leg
Choinski opened his title match against Fjoser (35-6) with a takedown, but his foe tied it at 2-2 in the second period.
Late in the second, Choinski went to one of his best moves, the double-leg takedown, to get his pin and wrap up the match.
"I felt pretty confident about my double-leg," Choinski said. "My freshman year, I did a whole practice just on the double-leg. One of my coaches saw that potential in me. I practiced for three hours, just double-legs. It's one of my favorite moves.
"I saw (the opportunity) there and I just went for it. I put him to his back and I squeezed as hard as I could."
Nelson said, "We emphasized quickness this year, hitting those shots quickly. Mark hitting that duck-under and then getting the lift and throwing him on his back — that started with the quickness on the shot."
Choinski topped Stevens Point's Fritz Schierl (48-4) by a 10-5 score in his semifinal on Friday night.
In earlier matches, he pinned Milton's Evan Whitehead (30-9) in 3:01 and posted a 10-1 major decision over Jake McMahon of Menomonee Falls (37-14).
"I think my determination really helped," Choinski said. "I really busted my butt (this year). I can't stress that enough. (I did) three workouts every single day. I've been dreaming about this for so long.
"Every step, every match, I saw it coming closer and closer. I just kept picking up the pace, picking up the pace. I felt pretty dominant this whole tournament, even though I know I had some good competition."
White wins at buzzer
White jumped ahead of Lee (41-7) in his championship match with an early takedown and nursed a 2-1 lead going into the third period.
He fell behind but came up with an escape with 37 seconds left and a takedown with just four seconds remaining.
There was some initial confusion because one referee gave him the takedown, while the other did not, but it was eventually awarded to him.
"The bottom line was, he went after the takedown and got it," Nelson said.
White defeated Greater Metro Conference rival Aaron Daly of Falls (43-10) by a 4-2 score in his Friday semifinal.
He beat Joey Ford of Menomonie (38-8) with a 5-1 decision and downed Skylar Kroening of Sheboygan South (35-10) by a 7-1 count in earlier action.
White said the foundation for his state title, as often happens, was laid in the off-season.
"I trained in the summertime, going down to Illinois and working with my coach, Greg Gomez," he said. "That's really what helped me."
'The Bulldog Way'
Once the high school season began, White and Choinski, along with their teammates, benefited from 'the Bulldog way," Central's approach to wrestling.
"We peak at the right time, we make it happen, we train so that at the very end of the season, we're wrestling our best," Nelson said. "We're focused, we're dialed in mentally and we're focused physically."
Nelson also wanted to thank the Central faithful who accompanied the wrestlers on their trip to Madison and gave them valuable support.
"We had two of our school administrators here," the coach said. "It's a community thing, and everybody's helping everybody. It's a good day in Bulldog country."
Besides Mark Choinski and Tyus White, Central sent three other wrestlers to the state tournament. Here is how they fared:
TERE WHITE, 120: He wound up fifth with a 3-2 record. He pinned Alec Neumann of Franklin in 4 minutes, 38 seconds, then topped Aidan Yde of Arrowhead, 9-5....he lost his semifinal match 8-0 to Zach Hasselberger of Stoughton and dropped a consolation match when he was pinned by Zach Smith of Port Washington in 1:32....he then beat Kai Castaneda of Wauwatosa 3-1 for fifth place....he finishes at 36-3.
JASON ALVAREZ, 170: He lost to Ben Zbikowski of South Milwaukee 5-2 in his opener, then did not receive a wrestleback....he finishes at 34-12.
BRANDON DRIESSEN, 182: He went 0-2, losing to Brock Allen of DeForest 14-4, then being pinned by Brady Hansen of Fort Atkinson in 3:00 in a wrestleback....he finishes at 27-10.
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