Waiting for the 113-pound championship match Feb. 22 was nerve-wracking for Milford junior Konner Schluckebier.
“I got more nervous,” he said. “I tried to keep distracted and not concentrate too much on wrestling.”
Teammate Jeaven Scdoris opened the finals with a championship win, which made things easier but added more pressure, Schluckebier said.
“I had to do the same or better,” he said.
He matched his teammate with the Class C 113-pound title. To celebrate, he completed a back flip on the mat.
“It was different than I’d planned,” he said with a smile. “I’d dreamed of doing a back flip.”
Konner started out by pinning Gage Musser of Hershey and beating Spencer Bridgmon of Syracuse, setting up a rematch with Casey Benavides of Bridgeport. The two met in the semifinals last season, as well.
“He beat me the year before,” Konner said. “I had a good warm-up and tried to destroy him. It was the most amazing feeling.”
Konner dominated the match 10-1 to earn a spot in the final, where he faced another rematch, this one with district opponent Gavin Dozler of Boone Central/Newman Grove.
“I was excited to see that. I knew I could beat him, but I had to be on my A game,” Schluckebier said.
His A game led to a 7-1 win over Dozler and a championship for Milford.
“With Konner, I pictured it so many times,” Coach Joe Schluckebier said. “It proved you can do big things in a small town.”
Konner doesn’t change his approach to matches. He described his style as “all attacks. I never let up. All gas, no brakes.”
Last year, Konner suffered his first loss of the season in the semifinals to Benavides.
“It was heartbreaking,” he said. “This year, I just went out and did my thing.”
His pre-match routine includes listening to music, focusing on the upcoming match and listening to the crowd to get into the mood.
“I hear my coaches. They’re the only voice I hear,” he said.
To break the three-decade champion drought for MHS was an incredible thing, he said. And to do it with his father and coach in his corner – “I’m very lucky to have him there,” he said.
Konner is already looking forward to next year when he’ll be a senior. He said he’d like to try for an undefeated season.
“It’s been an amazing year,” he said. “I want to thank everyone for everything, especially my practice partners (Eli Vondra and Ethan Zegers). They continue to push me, and I give a lot of credit to both.”
Konner finished the season with a 50-1 record, the best in school history. He is the all-time career pin leader with 93 and has won 131 matches.