MADISON – There are so many superlatives that could be used to describe Brock Schlough’s talents on the wrestling mat.
Phenomenal (one that his head coach Jamie Olson likes to use when talking about him), remarkable, exceptional, extraordinary, astonishing, astounding, stunning, incredible and unbelievable.
But the one descriptor that most comes to mind after watching the gifted yet humble and soft-spoken Boyceville junior wrestler in his third consecutive state wrestling finals last weekend on the main floor of the Kohl Center is instinctive.
For the third consecutive Saturday, Schlough had to face Cadott sophomore Brady Spaeth for the championship gold.
After earning close wins the previous two weeks in the regional and sectional title bouts, Schlough was looking for his third straight victory and state championship when the pair met in the Division 3, 152 pound finals February 24 at the 2018 WIAA State Individual Wrestling Championships in Madison.
When Spaeth came at him on a double-leg shot, Schlough reacted instinctively, applying a “cow catcher” and putting the Cadott wrestlers on his back midway through the second period and match to earn the pinfall and an unprecedented third WIAA state championship for himself and the Bulldogs’ storied program.
The win helped Schlough eclipse the mark originally set by two-time state heavyweight titlist Chris Wisemiller back in 1982 and 1983 and equalled by him last season.
“He (Spaeth) likes that double leg so I knew I had to be prepared for that,” said Schlough following his record-breaking win.
“He took that shot in the second period, and I didn’t even think about it, I just went with it,” added Schlough. “It is just a ‘feel thing’ from wrestling our guys in the practice room like Trett, Garrett and Justin. You got to do that on instinct in order to survive in a wrestling match with all those kind of people.”
Even his head coach Jamie Olson was surprised by the pinfall.
“I’m happy that one is over because you have to try and beat him three times in three weeks and the kid (Brady Spaeth) is tough, really tough,” stated Olson.
“He (Brock) went out firing and got that first takedown,” said Olson. “And that was pretty nasty what he hit at the end there. It was just a ‘Cow Catcher’ but Brock threw him to his back and had it tight.”
“We didn’t expect that,” added Olson of Brock’s championship pin. “We hoped to be in control of the match and win by points like we had the last two times, but when you catch a guy like that, you might as well pin him, right, and end it!”
And that is precisely what Schlough did.
After posting a 7-3 win in the regional title match in Spring Valley on Feb. 10 and 6-3 triumph a week later at the Osceola sectional, many like Coach Olson were expecting another tight fought battle.
But that game plan quickly changed midway through the second period of last Saturday’s championship match.
Schlough had built a 3-1 lead with a first-period takedown and an escape to open the second.
When Spaeth attempted to come low for a takedown, Schlough sprung, as he said out of instinct, and put the Cadott wrestler hard to his back.
Tightening the hold, it didn’t take long for the referee to blow his whistle and slap the mat at 3:02, giving Schlough the pin and his record-setting third consecutive state wrestling championship, each coming at a different weight class.
Schlough won his first title at 138 pound and he claimed gold at 160 pounds for his second.
But in order to get to the championship in Madison this past weekend, Schlough had to first pick up wins in his quarterfinal and semifinal matches on Friday.
Brock Schlough has a way of making his wrestling performance appear effortless at times and his opening match of the 2018 state tournament, his third in as many years, looked that way.
Schlough broke through the defense of his 152-pound quarterfinal opponent, Clayton Kite, a senior from Iowa-Grant/Highland, for a takedown only 23 second into the match and then tacked on a pair of near fall points to lead 4-0.
Schlough piled up the points in the second period, starting with a reversal that turned into a three-point near fall for a 9-0 advantage. Two more near falls – a three- and two-point – upped the Boyceville junior’s advantage to 14-0.
Schlough brought the match to an end 14 seconds into the third and final period with another takedown to secure the 16-0 technical fall at the 4:14 mark.
The Boyceville junior would have to go the distance in his next match.
Reedsville junior Brandon Stelzer (36-9) battled Schlough to a scoreless deadlock after one period of their 152-pound semifinal.
But Schlough, who took the down position to start the second period, broke the tie with an escape and then added a takedown to lead 3-0. Stelzer scored an escape to make it 3-1 after four minutes of wrestling.
In the final period, Stelzer closed to within one point on a second escape but Schlough scored a match-winning takedown with 43 second left in the match. Stelzer escaped 20 seconds later but Schlough held on for the 5-3 decision and a berth in the finals.
Schlough, who completed a perfect 47-0 season on his run to a third state title, is now 133-5 in three years.
When asked about winning a fourth, Schlough said, “I don’t think I should look that far ahead.”
But his head coach can.
“Three times, we have one more to get. He is quite a kid, hardworking and humble.”
“Sometimes you wonder what he is thinking but he is a ball of energy and athleticism, he is just the full package,” continued Olson.
“I am pretty blessed to have him on my team, no doubt about it,” Olson concluded.