Led by individual conference championships from Peter Katris, Mike Baumann and Jake Belongia, New Berlin's wrestling team took second place at the Woodland Conference tournament held Feb. 4 at Whitnall High School.
Pewaukee won the team title with 225 points, while New Berlin scored 192.5 points to hold off Wauwatosa at 187 and Greenfield at 186.
New Berlin will have to defeat Tosa again on Feb. 11 at the Brookfield Central regional in order to win a team regional championship, so finishing ahead of its main competition is a shot in the arm heading into the meet.
"The kids set a goal for themselves to be conference champions this season," New Berlin coach Patrick Detmer said. "We fell just short of that goal. Pewaukee has a really solid team. Still, I was incredibly impressed by the way our kids competed on Saturday, especially in the final round.
"We trailed Wauwatosa by 16 points for second heading into the last round. I knew we had a shot to catch them, but it would take a great effort by all of our kids. That's exactly what we got. It shows the drive they have and the dedication they have toward one another."
Katris won his title at 138 pounds, winning 4-2 over Pewaukee's DJ Muller in the semifinals and 3-2 over state-ranked Cole Acker of Wauwatosa in the championship match.
"While all of our wrestlers contributed to the strong finish, Peter Katris's win over Acker at 138 really swung things in our favor," Detmer said. "He beat a kid who is in the state rankings for the conference title. That's one of the best matches I have ever seen him wrestle. It was such a great effort by him today."
At 145 pounds, Baumann took a 6-1 decision over Victor DeLao of South Milwaukee in his semifinal match before collecting an 11-0 major decision of Wauwatosa's Brian Mahan in the finals.
"Mike Baumann's championship match at 145 was another special performance," Detmer said. "We worked on a few things in practice this week that we saw him execute on the mat today, and it paid off for him. It's rewarding to see such a hard-working, coachable kid experience the success he is experiencing right now."
Belongia, ranked No. 7 in the state at 182 pounds, earned his second straight title by taking first place in dominant fashion. He pinned Van McNulty of Wauwatosa in 1 minute, 2 seconds in the semifinals and then downed Pewaukee's Conner Goodman by tech fall at 16-1 in 4 minutes, 15 seconds.
"He was dominant in the finals, but the best thing I liked about it is that he went out aggressively to earn the extra team points in all of his matches," Detmer said. "I overheard him talking about the importance of picking up those points for our team score. He's a great teammate."
Mike White (160 pounds) and Joey Scaffidi (170) each took second place.
Scaffidi, who is ranked No. 8 in the state at 170 pounds, pinned Jacob Johnson of South Milwaukee in 44 seconds in the quarterfinals. He won 12-5 over Dominic Trimboli of Whitnall/Greendale in the semifinals but was pinned in 1 minute, 1 second by Pewaukee's Jacob Sklenar, who is ranked No. 9 in the 182-pound state rankings.
An 11-0 major decision over Jason Schilling of Greenfield and a pin of Jared Carter of South Milwaukee lifted White into the finals, where he dropped a 6-4 decision to Pius XI's Joey Miller, who received honorable mention in the latest state rankings.
Rob Snyder (113) and Jaron Radish (195) took third place to earn all-conference honors, while Max Lewis (126) and Zach Hansen (285) placed fourth.
"We had some kids who, even though they were wrestling for fifth, competed their butts off to get us the team points we needed," Detmer said. "Donoven Acevedo and Tony Scaffidi battled through some injuries to score pinfalls in their final matches for us. That got us four extra team points. When you add all those points up, things like that are the difference in a tight team score race."