Bay Port’s Anderson wins state wrestling title
By Rich Palzewic
KAUKAUNA – Bay Port senior Drake Anderson capped off his prep career in thrilling fashion at the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Division 1 Individual State Wrestling Tournament Feb. 13 at Kaukauna High School.
Anderson, who finished the season 20-0, beat Stoughton’s Rudy Detweiler with a second-period pin on his way to the 195-pound title.
“I’m sure it won’t set in for a while,” said Anderson. “It’s something I’ve dreamed about for a long time, so it’s an amazing feeling to win it. Even when I’m 10 or 20 years older, I’ll still be a state champ.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WIAA divided the state tournament into three separate locations this season instead of holding the entire tournament at the Kohl Center in Madison.
“It’s a year I’ll always remember,” Anderson said. “I couldn’t rely on my team as much this season because we had to take so many precautions. You had to be self-motivated and find that in yourself.”
Anderson pinned Daniel Ford (Waunakee) in 1:11 in the quarterfinals before earning a hard-fought, 11-8 decision victory over Oak Creek’s Sam Paar in the semifinals.
His pin of Detweiler came with 3 seconds remaining in the opening period.
“That was my last wrestling match ever,” said Anderson, who will be attending Northeast Wisconsin Technical College next fall. “That hasn’t set in yet, either. It’s mostly happy thoughts now, but I’m sure in a couple of weeks I’ll be wishing I was tying up my shoes and snapping on my headgear again.”
Anderson burst into the wrestling world his freshman year when he helped Bay Port win the Fox River Classic Conference title over Pulaski with a dramatic pin, but it wasn’t until recently he thought he could win it all.
“Honestly, I didn’t think this could happen until a few weeks ago,” he said. “I should have been more forward-thinking, but I’ve always taken my matches one weekend at a time.”
Anderson’s title was the third consecutive season the Pirates have sported an individual state wrestling champ.
Max Meeuwsen, now playing football at the Naval Academy, won back-to-back titles in 2019 and 2020.
“I’ve been a part of state championships in the past, and it never gets old,” said Bay Port head coach Brad Shefchik. “In the moment, they’re all special. It was a tough year for everyone with COVID, but I’m proud of the kids and how they adapted.”
Shefchik said Anderson had the makings of a champ when he entered high school.
“From a coaching standpoint, we’ve always had confidence in Drake,” he said. “He’s a gamer and was never out of a match. When it was something he decided he wanted to get, it became a reality. It’s a moment he’ll always cherish.”
Jason Berna, Bay Port’s lead assistant coach, was Anderson’s specific weight coach.
“Drake always came to work and was easy-going,” Berna said. “Practice was important to him, and he always showed up. He was a good leader and was lots of fun to be around. Both Max and him have a great sense of humor, and that helped them relax in the moment.”