Gray makes history as first Bay wrestler to advance to state three times
Joins Blue Dukes captain Davey in Madison
Whitefish Bay senior 126-pound wrestler Joey Davey, his place already secure in this week's WIAA State Individual Tournament, did what any good team captain would do following teammate Rashadeem Gray's tough loss in the sectional finals at 160 pounds Saturday.
He went over to the far corner of the Oconomowoc field house where others were trying to console his high-profile teammate, put an arm around his shoulder and just started talking.
"I can't really tell you want I said," said Davey afterward.
But whatever he did say, it worked, as Gray, after a few more minutes of ire over the frustrating nature of the 3-2 decision to Arrowhead's Zach Barbee, was able to compose himself and bring back his calm, collected and intelligent self - with still an air of frustration lingering about him.
"He stole the match, he didn't take a single shot," Gray said. "Man, has this given me plenty of motivation. … But, hey, that's my captain (Davey). He talks to me, tells me what I need to know. Even if I win he'll tell me what I did wrong (small smile)."
And Gray should force a smile to his face, because the loss did not cost him a WIAA state berth, as he did not have to go through a wrestleback for second place. In doing so, he made history as he became the first Bay wrestler ever to earn three state tournament berths.
"It is a good feeling, I'm going to have a lot of school records when I leave here," he added.
Gray (35-5 overall) advances to a WIAA State Individual first round bout at 3 p.m. Thursday at the Kohl Center in Madison. He will face old nemesis Andres Marquez of Racine Horlick (32-1) while Davey (33-12), who is making his second trip to Madison, challenges Verona senior Ben Hansen (39-9).
Davey for one, is going to enjoy the experience.
"This has been long in coming," said Davey. "I've been working my butt off for a long time now, keeping my eyes on the prize. It was great going last year and it's even greater this year. I just wanted this so badly. So many people supported me. My family, my friends. Just so many."
And then he remembered his role as captain once again.
"Rashadeem and I had to go to Madison (in our senior years)," Davey said. "There's nothing like it. We're killing each other in practice and all for days like these. This means the world."
His coach Dale Loebel is pleased, too.
"I'm super-excited for Joey," Loebel said. "He did a lot for the team. He moved up to 138 for a time for the betterment of the team and now he's there. It doesn't matter how you get there, as long as you do."
Davey earned his berth at the Oconomowoc sectional the hard way. He beat an Oconomowoc wrestler, 8-4, and then survived a crazy overtime match with Menomonee Falls' Casey Crangle, 8-4, where he got a cradle after a roll-through.
He eventually lost to Arrowhead's Cory Cinelli on a pin in 3:11, but he, too, did not have to face a wrestleback.
For Gray, he claimed a major decision over a Falls' opponent, and then another one over a Milwaukee Vincent/Brown Deer's Pietro D'Amato before his loss to Barbee.
"Rashadeem needed to adapt to his style (Barbee's)," Loebel said. "He'll learn from it."
One other senior had not quite as happy a conclusion. 2012 senior state qualifier Max Carlin (24-10) was appearing in only his second tournament after a long layoff due to a shoulder injury. He was looking for his second state berth and beat an Arrowhead opponent, 7-2, in the quarterfinals.
But he lost to eventual class champion Jerott Holz of Menomonee Falls, 8-0, in the semifinals, making his road back to state very difficult.
It wasn't going to happen.
"That's when he told me he couldn't go anymore," Loebel said. "I understood. Sometimes windows open and sometimes they close. I told him that he has nothing to prove to me anymore. He did everything he could to prove himself. Just a great wrestler. A great kid."
Carlin wound up defaulting his third place match.
Senior Ben Lehrmann at 152 (31-11) finished fourth
Other Bay wrestlers at sectional who lost in the first round included the following: Justin Weil at 106 (16-21), Miguel Gomez at 132 (24-18), Jack Plale at 138 (11-14), Simon Kurszewski at 145 (3-2), George Dixon at 170 (11-14), Andrew James at 182 (11-9), and Joe Beck at 285 (10-9).
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