The fact that Nicolet sophomore and returning state place winner Parker Keckeisen won the 170-pound weight class in the 42-team Mid-States Wrestling Classic on Dec. 28 and 29 made Knight coach Gus Kaufmann feel very good, as well as very old.
Because it was something that hasn't happened for the Knights in a very long time.
"We've been coming here (to this tournament) since 1996, my senior year in high school, and it's the first champion we've had here since Amos (Nicolet wrestling legend Besaw)," said coach Gus Kaufmann. "We've had a number of place winners but no champions since Amos.
"This was great for Parker. He earned every bit of it. He approaches every single match the same way. Always the same little warm-up routine. He always goes in confident, calm and collected, and he always wrestlers hard. You can't ask for anything more than that."
His efforts helped the Knights to a respectable 23rd-place finish with 78.5 points, as Elkhorn won with 328.
Nicolet will host D3 state power Kenosha Christian Life in a nonconference dual Thursday, Jan. 5, and then will take part in the West Allis Hale Bauer Brawl on Saturday, Jan. 7.
Keckeisen improved to 17-0 with his title. After a first-round bye, he tech-falled an Oconomowoc opponent (23-7), defeated an Oregon foe (11-4) and won by major decision over a Waunakee foe (13-4).
That put him up against the physical and aggressive Will Van Pietersom of Sun Prairie (14-3) in the final.
And fans got their money's worth out of the match. Keckeisen was going for a clean "takedown and let-up" 30-15 technical fall and was close to that at 26-13 when he didn't clear his hips quickly enough and Van Pietersom caught him briefly for a takedown and a two-point nearfall.
Keckeisen quickly regained his focus and eventually won by a wild major decision score of 32-20.
"That move put a little fear of God into him," Kaufmann said. "Parker was a little disappointed. He wanted that 30-15 score, but it was still a fun match, and the kid (Van Pietersom) came up to us afterward, and said 'Man, I hate being in neutral with you.'
"But this turned out to be very good. I asked him (Keckeisen) if he was nervous before the final, and he said 'no', that he was expecting something like this. He then went out there and got it."
The Knights had one other very strong effort as sophomore 113-pounder Ryan Kuesel (15-3 overall) put in a busy six-match day, winning four of them and earning ninth. He edged a West Bend East opponent, 4-2, in his final bout.
"He actually came in the third seed and that made him approach a few matches a bit differently," Kaufmann said, "but he won two matches in the final 20 seconds. He really kept his composure."
Others who won matches included Robert Lagerman at 126 (1-2, 5-9), Alex Riedijk at 132 (2-2, 8-8), Jaren Yoder at 138 (2-2, 7-9) and Peter Driscoll at 160 (1-2, 7-8).
"Alex (Riedijk) and Jaren (Yoder) went into the tourney with the idea of placing," Kaufmann said. "They approached their matches well. They just got beat by better guys.
"I think it was a good tourney overall. The guys approached their matches well with good game plans."