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RHS: Wrestling
Wrestling: Klaver, Johnson Ready For State
By Student Writer - Connor Kuczmarski | Published: 02/20/2013

Richard Klaver, pictured, and Connor Johnson will compete at the WIAA state wrestling meet beginning today at the Kohl Ccenter in Madison. Both grapplers lost sectional titles to wrestlers ranked No. 1 in the state by Wisconsin Wrestling Online.

     For the first time in four years, the Rhinelander High School wrestling team will be represented at the WIAA state wrestling meet. Richard Klaver (152 pounds) and Connor Johnson (195) travel to the Kohl Center today to begin their quest for a state championship.

“I think we both have a really good shot,” Johnson said. “We have both been wrestling pretty consistent lately. It’s going to be really tough, the competition is fierce, but I think we can do some good things.”

Klaver and Johnson have both notched extremely impressive seasons for the Hodags. Klaver enters the state tournament with an overall record of 36-5, losing twice to Wisconsin Wrestling Online’s No. 1 ranked Travis Hettinga (43-2). Klaver, who comes in at No. 10, faces Brandon Sprecher (37-8, No. 12) of Sauk Prairie to begin this afternoon.

“It is going to be really tough,” Klaver said. “The competition is the best at state and everyone is focusing on the same goal. We have lots of time between each match so conditioning won’t be as much of a factor. It is going to come down to who is a better man on the day. (Connor and I) just need to go out and focus on doing what we do best.”

     If the scenario plays out, Klaver could be looking at a third rematch in three weeks with Hettinga. Klaver lost 19-10 in the regional finals and then 10-2 in the sectional finals a week later. He recognizes that a third bout would be unique to the others, primarily because of the extremely high level at which the athletes compete.

“The first time we wrestled he was really looking for the head throw,” Klaver explained. “That is one of his best moves. He caught me in it a few times and I rolled him through twice, but he was hunting for it. The second time I knew it was coming, and I was prepared for it. We wrestled a much different match that time. I expect it to be very different if we match up again.”

Johnson enters the state tournament with what appear to be several favorable early round matchups. Johnson (No. 2, 40-3) first grapples with Brett Samson (No. 13, 33-8), a freshman from Oconomowoc. If he passes that test he is looking at either Greg Miller (No. 15, 31-14) of Burlington or Mitch Major (No. 11, 36-10) of Mukwanago in the quarterfinals. Despite taking on opponents or prospective opponents outside of the top 10, Johnson said he understands the dangers of underestimating an opponent.

“Everyone here is the best,” Johnson stated. “All the guys got here because they worked hard. I need to stick to my skills and go out there and work to the best of my ability. If I wrestle to my game plan I’m confident I can be successful.”

Johnson enters the state tournament 1-1 in his last two matches, falling to Eric Peissig of Menomonie (No. 1, 45-0) 8-3 in the sectional finals before edging past Alex Klug of Merrill 5-4 to wrestle back for the opportunity to compete at state.

Johnson said he is optimistic about his chances should he get another crack at Peissig, the top-ranked wrestler at 195.

“Anything can happen at this point,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if I will meet up with him again, but if I do I think I will be better off than I was before. I know more about him than I did last time and I come in knowing what to expect. Hopefully, I will be standing on a podium by the time it is all over.”

The first two rounds of the state tournament are held today. Wrestling begins at 3 p.m. Should Klaver or Johnson win, they would advance to the quarterfinals which will begin later that evening. Should they lose in the preliminary round, they will be cheering for the wrestler who beat them in the quarterfinals. Should Sprecher or Samson win in the quarters, Klaver and Johnson would get a spot in the consolation bracket Friday morning. Should Sprecher or Samson lose in the quarters, Klaver and Johnson’s seasons would be over.

The semifinals will be held on Friday at 7 p.m.. If Klaver and Johnson wrestle to the state championship round they will be competing on Saturday at 6 p.m. for a shot at state gold.

“We are here and we are ready,” Klaver said. “Our entire careers’ have built up to this. Connor has one year left and this is my last (season). Since we laced up our shoes for the first time this has always been the goal to compete for a state title. Now all we need to do is go out there and leave it on the mat. If we do that good things will happen.”

Hodag Sports Library
01/15/2015 Close win for the Hodags
12/30/2014 Hodags Wrestling Well at the 30th Annual Northern Badger Wrestling Classic
12/30/2014 Hodag Wrestlers Finish Northern Badger Wrestling Classic with class, finish 3rd
12/11/2014 Tigers Beat Hodags in home opener
03/26/2014 Wrestling Wrap Up
03/02/2014 Connor Johnson: 4th place at state
02/28/2014 Johnson Wrestles Well, Advances to Saturday's Competition
02/24/2014 Hodag Wrestling Johnson advances to state
02/17/2014 Hodag Wrestling finishes 5th: 7 advance to sectionals
02/10/2014 Hodags shine with first ever conference championship

Hodag Place 6th at Regionals 02/14/2015 After sweeping the Great Northern Conference a week earlier, the now back-to-back champion Hodags advanced to the WIAA Division 1 Regional which was held at Marshfield High School on Saturday, Februar
Hodags Are Back to Back Champions! 02/07/2015 The Rhinelander Hodags hosted the Great Northern Conference Tournament on Saturday at the Jim Miagza Community Gymnasium. It would be a 7 hour tournament that would end with Rhinelander hoisting the G
Hodag Wrestles Stomp Robins in 64-9 Senior Night Blowout 01/22/2015 The Hodags were ready for the Red Robins on Thursday at the Jim Miagza Community Gymnasium night in the last regular season meeting between the two teams. Thursday night was dedicated to the senior wr

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