Wrestling: Oregon’s Brandon Liddle dialed in on moment at state | Sports
Oregon junior Brandon Liddle doesn’t want any distractions before his debut at the WIAA Division 1 state tournament this week.
He declined interviews before state and wants to focus on the moment. Liddle (29-6) continues gearing up for a quarterfinal match against D.C. Everest junior Blake Heal (29-7) on Thursday, Feb. 24, at the Kohl Center in Madison.
“He usually doesn’t get too down on himself and just lets things roll,” Oregon coach Brian Hookstead said.
Liddle, a three-time regional champion, has been working his entire prep career for an opportunity to wrestle at the Kohl Center. There can be a lot of distractions, but Hookstead wants Liddle to soak it all in.
“It’s a big stage and a different atmosphere,” Hookstead said. “You have to be at an elite level every time you step out on the mat. You can’t have a moment off and I hope what he takes away is enjoying the moment. I think he’s ready.”
Liddle and the Oregon wrestling team have had many memorable moments this season. On Saturday, Feb. 19, Liddle finished second at the Division 1 Fort Atkinson sectional. He lost a hard-fought match to Janesville Craig’s Hunter Klietz in the title match 7-3. In the second period, Liddle went to grab Klietz’s legs and perform a Guillotine move where he was in a leg riding position and went to hook Klietz’s thigh and reach for his opposite arm to pull behind him for a turn. However, Klietz broke through with a reversal and then scored on a three-point near fall to take control of the match with a five-point swing.
Hookstead said the only mistake Liddle made was he was too loose in his grip on Klietz’s legs.
Liddle earned a chance at the championship by pinning Janesville Parker’s Blake Krueger in 2:42 in a first-round match. He then pinned Mukwonago’s Jacob Wisinski in 1:47 in a semifinal match.
Oregon had five other wrestlers at the sectional. Senior John Ruth (160) finished third and sophomore Dakota Brown (132) and junior Tyler Wald were fourth.
Ruth opened the sectional by pinning Elkhorn’s Ethan Taylor in 1:43. He lost a semifinal match after being pinned by Milton’s Michael Schleim in 2 minutes. Ruth rebounded to pin Fort Atkinson’s Aiden Worden in 1:01. He didn’t earn a wrestleback for second since Schleim lost in the title match.
Brown (11-12) pinned Janesville Parker’s Drexel Norman in 1:10 in the first round. He then was pinned by Elkhorn’s Joey Showalter in 55 seconds in the semifinals. In a third-place match, Brown lost to Mukwonago’s Brady Wierzbicki 14-0.
Wald (31-13) beat Janesville Parker’s Carter Wesley in a technical fall 15-0 in 4:03. Milton’s Kade Desormeau then knocked him off 10-0 in a semifinal match. Wald lost a third-place match to Mukwonago’s Hayden Chitwood 17-3.
Oregon senior Turner Sieren (170) lost a first-round match to Elkhorn’s Douglas Woyak 6-4 in overtime. Teammate Carson Stebbins (113) was pinned in the first round by Fort Atkinson’s Bryce Volla in 48 seconds.
Now, Liddle continues to prepare for state. Two weeks ago after winning a regional title, he remained focused on his goals.
“I’ve had a great season and I have a great season ahead of me,” Liddle said. “I feel like I maybe have a great chance of winning state. There is a lot of tough competitors.”
Hookstead said his goals for Liddle are not out of the ordinary. They are in line with everything the coaches have stressed all season.
“You always want to win every match you wrestle,” Hookstead said. “Our expectation for him is to work hard every match and if he wins then that’s icing on the cake.”