Evan Sinda, Grant Balconi and Jorin McGuire did not have good memories of their previous trip to a WIAA wrestling sectional.
Sinda and McGuire both lost in wrestlebacks in the 2015 sectional, coming up one victory short of qualifying for the state tournament. Balconi did not even get that far, being upset in the first round of the sectional.
All three, however, made up for those disappointments through their performances in a Feb. 20 sectional at New Berlin West, earning spots in this week's state tournament, which begins Thursday, Feb. 25, at the Kohl Center in Madison.
They will all be making their first trips to the state tournament.
Balconi won his 182-pound class with a pin and a pair of 5-2 decisions. Sinda (138 pounds) and McGuire (heavyweight) both came in second, reversing last year's fortunes by winning wrestlebacks.
'It was a similar story for all three last year,' Muskego coach Sean Fortmann said. 'They all had some tough things happen to them.'
Balconi tops tough foes
Balconi, a senior who improved to 41-6, began this year's event with a pin in 1 minute, 21 seconds. He then beat Jon Ryback of Mukwonago, 5-2, in the semifinal and Nathan Crayton of Burlington by the same score in the championship match.
'(This title is the result of) a lot of hard work by everyone in the program,' Balconi said. 'I give a lot of credit to my practice partners for all the time they put in. We worked two hours every day with the team; then I put in some extra work (after practice).'
Fortmann knew Balconi had a rough road at 182 pounds.
'That weight class was deep, and there were some good kids there,' the coach said. 'We knew if he wrestled his best, he would be the one to come out on top. He beat some good kids in the semifinal and final. He just wore them out because he was in better shape.'
Balconi will take on Austin Kind of Fort Atkinson (28-10) in his opening state match.
Sophomore Sinda (35-6) won his first two matches, including one in sudden victory, and then lost an 8-0 major decision to Mauricio Cardoso of West Allis Central in the final. Sinda came back and downed Nick Pollack of Greenfield, 5-1, in his wrestleback to claim second place.
'He lost that wrestleback last year,' Fortmann said, 'and this year, he came back and took care of business. I think he learned from losing last season.'
Sinda will face Nathan Lichtfuss of Hortonville (37-6) in his first state match.
McGuire (38-7) claimed his first two matches on early pins and then was dropped by top-ranked heavyweight Blaze Beltran of Pewaukee in his title match.
McGuire was matched against EJ Mastrocola of Waterford in the wrestleback but advanced by rule since he had beaten Mastrocola with a pin in 1:28 earlier in the tournament.
'He wrestled two good matches early, then ran into the top-ranked heavyweight,' Fortmann said. 'He did well on the day, and I'm excited for him.'
McGuire, a junior, will meet Donte Johnson of Fond du Lac (32-3) in his first match at state.
Adam McNally (25-15) finished third at 145 pounds, going 2-2 on the day and losing in the second-place match to Austin Thomas of Waterford.
Parker Bevilacqua (31-14) took fourth at 106 pounds, and falling in the first round were Tom Wintheiser at 120 (34-13) and Jacob Hein at 195 (3-2).
Muskego scored 731/2 points for fifth in the sectional, which was won by Waterford.