Oconto Falls senior Clayton Whiting put the finishing touches on one of the best high school wrestling careers in state history Saturday at the Kohl Center in Madison, becoming the 22nd grappler to win four WIAA state championships.
Whiting defeated Northwestern sophomore Ian Smith for the second straight season in the Division 2 182-pound final, this time a 17-5 major decision.
He beat Smith in 2021 with a pin in 2 minutes, 27 seconds.
“It feels great,” Whiting said. “A lot of relief knowing that my work has finally paid off over the past few years of working all day, all night. Just trying to become the best in the nation.”
The University of Missouri recruit is the second area wrestler to win four state titles and the first in more than a decade.
Former Luxemburg-Casco star Zac Cibula accomplished the feat from 2005 to 2008.
Whiting lived up to the lofty expectations he placed on his shoulders when he arrived at Oconto Falls four years ago. He said before his first state tournament as a freshman that he planned to win a title each year of his career.
Not only did he do it, but he did so in spectacular fashion.
He won the 152-pound title as a freshman with a 9-0 major decision and captured the 170-pound title with a 17-1 technical fall before his back-to-back performances against Smith.
As for his new goal?
“Try to win an Olympic gold,” Whiting said.
Four-time state winners
Matt Hanutke, Pittsville (1987-1990); Kraig Underwood, Athens (1992-1995); Brian Slater, New Lisbon (1993-1996); Scott Hady, North Crawford (1994-1997); Kevin Black, River Falls (1995-1998); Josh Miller, Arcadia (1999-2002); Cole Wunnicke, Ithaca (1999-2002); Zac Cibula, Luxemburg-Casco (2005-2008); Bobby Wunnicke, Dodgeville (2005-2008); Nick Hagar, Tomahawk (2006-2009); Jesse Thielke, Germantown (2008-2011)
Jarod Donar, Cuba City/Southwestern (2009-2012); Jens Lantz, Ellsworth (2011-2014); Hunter Marko, Amery (2013-2016); Jeremy Schoenherr, Stratford (2015-2018); Sam Stuhl, Prescott & Ellsworth (2015-2018); Brock Schlough, Boyceville (2016-2019)
Keegan O’Toole, Hartland Arrowhead (2017-2020); Matty Bianchi, Two Rivers (2018-2021); Tanner Gerber, Cameron (2019-2022); Kole Marko, St. Croix Falls (2019-2022) Clayton Whiting, Oconto Falls (2019-22).