MADISON — The Julian Purney who qualified on Friday for a chance to win a WIAA Division 2 state wrestling championship doesn’t relate much to the one who accomplished the same feat two years ago.
Purney burst onto the scene as a 120-pound sophomore by winning his first three matches for Melrose-Mindoro/G-E-T. He then came up short in his bid for an unlikely title.
But there was nothing unlikely about Purney’s chances to return to a final as a senior, and he made a second opportunity official by blasting Amery’s Walker Ingham 18-1 in a 126-pound semifinal at the Kohl Center.
That gives second-ranked Purney (49-1) a second crack at becoming a state champ when he meets up with top-ranked Cody Holmes (47-4) of Two Rivers on Saturday night.
“We watched some film of (Ingham), and after a few minutes, Julian said, ‘I got this.’” Mel.-Min./G-E-T co-coach Pete Peterson said. “We talked about taking points when he could get them, and he got them right away.”
Purney joins West Salem/Bangor senior Dalton Schams, Holmen senior Kalyn Jahn and Viroqua junior Tyler Hannah in the finals.
Schams (29-4) advanced by keeping his perfect tournament going at at 138 pounds in Division 2, and Jahn (48-2) continued his dominance at 170 pounds in Division 1 to qualify for his second straight state final. Jahn, who hasn’t lost since December, placed second as a junior.
Hannah (40-2) is wrestling for the Division 2 championship at 195.
Purney took Walker down and put him on his back in the first period for a 5-0 lead before scoring seven points in the second and six more in the third to finish the match. He was aggressive, and it paid off.
“I was ready and knew what to expect,” said Purney, a three-time state qualifier who lost three state matches last year on the way to a sixth-place finish. “I wanted to go out aggressive and just pound on him. That’s what I want to do in all of my matches.”
Schams, a third-place state finisher as a freshman before having his sophomore and junior seasons stopped at the sectional level, beat River Valley’s Devan Alt (33-15) 1-0 with an escape to open the third period.
It was his second victory of the day after winning a first-round match on Thursday. He also pinned Denmark’s Ethan Schwartz in 2 minutes to advance to the semifinal.
“It was a very defensive match,” Schams said. “We had the same kind of match (at the sectional), so it’s what I expected.”
Hannah also had to plow through a close semifinal, but he emerged with a 3-0 victory over Campbellsport’s Matt Koelbl (40-4). Hannah scored his points on an escape, a Koelbl penalty and a Koelbl stall to qualify for his first championship bout after a pair of third-place state finishes.
“It feels great to get over that (semifinal) step,” Hannah said. “I was on offense the whole time and kept backing him up, but I couldn’t really get to my attacks.
“I wanted to keep him on his heels.”
Jahn’s pin of Eau Claire Memorial’s Levi Smith (28-6) was his second of the tournament and followed a 15-0 technical fall that moved him to the semifinal bout.
Jahn will match up with Hartland Arrowhead’s Joshua Otto (41-1), a University of Wisconsin recruit, in the final.
Viroqua sophomore Cale Anderson (45-3, Division 2 106), Holmen junior Alex Pellowski (40-10, Division 1 113), Blair-Taylor junior Logan Shramek (41-5, Division 3 170) and Prairie du Chien junior Traeton Saint (41-7, Division 2 138) also qualified for Friday night’s semifinals, but all were sent to the consolation bracket with losses.
Pellowski had the closest call out of the group when he dropped a 10-8 decision to top-ranked Cody Minor of Ashwaubenon. Pellowski, once down 6-2, tied the match at 8 with roughly 30 seconds left, but Minor (43-1) pulled out the win with a reversal in the closing seconds.