Two of the three Muskego wrestlers to advance to the state meet did so with relative ease. The third had to earn his trip the hard way.
Parker Bevilacqua and Jorin McGuire won titles Feb. 18 at the WIAA individual sectional at West Allis Central, while Evan Sinda overcame a semifinals loss to wrestleback for a state berth for the second straight year.
The three qualifiers are the most Muskego has sent to the WIAA Division 1 state individual tournament since 2014 when it had four participants.
"It is always good to get guys through to the state tournament," Muskego coach Sean Fortmann said. "I'm happy for the guys that made it. On the flip side, you are always disappointed for the kids that didn't make it. This is the end of the road for them. I'm happy for the three that made it. They did a nice job today."
Bevilacqua, who took fourth at sectionals as a freshman in 2016, booked his first state trip with a pair of pins and a major decision to win the sectional title at 106 pounds.
He pinned Dylan Thavong of Brookfield East in 1 minute, 20 seconds in the quarterfinals and Dawson Valleskey of Kettle Moraine in 1:53 to reach the finals, where he won, 12-0, over Dayton Lewis of Wauwatosa.
"It was going through my head that I knew I had to get this match so I didn't have to wrestle for the second and third place match," Bevilacqua said of his finals match. "I went out there and did my best."
After wrestling most of the season at 113 pounds, Bevilacqua (37-10) opted to move down to 106 for the postseason and won a wrestle-off with Muskego's other wrestler at 106. He entered sectionals honorable mention in the 106 state rankings.
"It was his decision," Fortmann said. "We always say that when we get to the end of the year that kids can make the decision to what they think is best for them to place at the state tournament. That was Parker's decision. We had talked earlier in the year that would be the plan.
"He stayed at 113 for the team and made us a stronger team. When you get to the regional tournament, it is individual, so he made the decision to go down."
McGuire collected three pins to cruise to the sectional championship at 285 pounds. His first fall was of John Champe of Brookfield East in 30 seconds. He then pinned Seth Abad of Mukwonago in 2:56 to reach the finals against Waterford's EJ Mastrocola, who he beat, 3-2, in the regional championship match.
Ranked sixth at 285, McGuire didn't let Mastrocola keep it close this time around, pinning the honorable-mention ranked wrestler in 2:37.
"I wasn't really happy with (his match against Mastrocola at regionals)," McGuire said. "I'm the best on top. I chose top in the second period, and it helped me turn him and get the pin to get off the mat."
Sinda won, 15-0, by tech fall in the quarterfinals but lost, 3-1, to West Allis Hale's Marshall Rushton in the semifinals. After collecting a 6-4 win over Whitnall/Greendale's Gabe Lewis in his first wrestleback match, Sinda (26-7) received a chance to wrestle for a state berth thanks to Rushton winning the sectional title.
"I didn't want to pay attention to the finals match at all," Sinda said. "I just wanted to go out there and wrestle that match like it was my last. It ended up being a good match."
He took advantage of the opportunity by pinning Brandon Harrison of Mukwonago in 2:29.
"I knew I could score on my feet," Sinda said. "I feel pretty confident in my abilities on my feet. I knew I could take him down. That move was there, so it allowed me to pin him."
McGuire and Sinda will be making their second appearances at state and both are hungry to avenge first-round losses from a year ago. Sinda dropped a 2-1 heartbreaker in his first-round match, and McGuire was pinned in 1:47.
"I wasn't happy with last year at all," McGuire said. "This year, I'm really hoping to take it one match at a time and just win, win, win. I want to be on the podium and be a state champ this year.
"The state arena is just a huge venue. You can't hear your coaches in an event like (the sectional), but at state you can't even hear yourself breathe. I'm used to that. I've been there and experienced that. I think that will help me mentally calm down and get the jitters out."
The WIAA Division 1 individual state tournament will take place Feb. 23-25 at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Preliminary matches will begin at 3 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23. Bevilacqua will face Tomah's Dawson Lambert (17-2), ranked No. 9 at 106 pounds, in his first-round match. Sinda drew ninth-ranked Bryce Younger (34-4) of New Richmond, and McGuire will take on Raul Benavides of South Milwaukee (17-9).
"All the lights are cool and the big stage are cool, but we are going there to get some hardware," Sinda said. "We have some unfinished business."