By Alex Strouf, The Denmark News
There’s a lot of trophies, banners, and medals decorating the bedroom of Brock Bergelin.
None have been bigger than the two WIAA state individual wrestling championship banners the Denmark senior has had hanging since last year.
He can now add a third.
The WIAA individual state wrestling tournament took place this past weekend, Feb. 23-25, at the Kohl Center in
Madison. For the third and final time, senior Bergelin took to the mats on his toughest road yet.
Despite the tough opponents Bergelin faced on the mat, Denmark’s prized wrestler battled with pneumonia and infectious mononucleosis throughout the season.
“It was a fight,” Bergelin said of battling illnesses. “I would leave school halfway through the day just to have enough energy to practice.”
A finally healthy Bergelin took the best record at his weight, 34-1, into state competition. The defending two-time state champion knew he had a target on his back, but has always claimed enjoy the pressure.
Bergelin spent Thursday night watching teammate Josh Frerk wrestle, while also scouting for his possible opponents for the rest of the weekend. Bergelin was awarded a first round bye for winning a sectional title for the third straight season.
On Friday, Bergelin was guaranteed two matches, no matter the result.
Regardless, Bergelin got the job done in both. That marked his spot in the 2017 WIAA state championship match in division two at 120 pounds.
The semifinal match showed another bump in the road for Bergelin, something he is no stranger to.
Bergelin went head-to-head with Sawyer Strom of Ellsworth in the semifinal battle. Despite winning the match, the Central Michigan recruit encountered a big obstacle.
Early in the first period against Strom, Bergelin experienced some head-to-head contact, which instantly swelled up his eye. On top of that, his eye was black-and-blue not longer than one hour after the match.
“He does this pretty funky move,” said Bergelin.
“We hit heads and I was out of it for a while thinking I might have had a concussion.”
It turned out Bergelin broke his left orbital bone and bruised the skin around his eye. The orbital bone is seven smaller, strong bones that make up the eye socket.
Bergelin was not phased whatsoever by the injury. Heavy icing and rest on Friday night is what led a confident Bergelin into the Kohl Center for the final match of his high school career.
Bergelin matched up with Julian Purney of Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau, who entered the state tournament with a record of 36-11.
Even with the injury, Purney was no match for Bergelin. He was seeing three’s. Bergelin was on a mission to become a three-time state champion.
“What’s happening isn’t what’s going through my head,” Bergelin said of his injury. “What’s going through my head is ‘Yeah, this happened, but I’m going to push through and deal with it.’ I want it more than him.”
The Denmark standout had a bloody nose in the match, which required two blood timeouts. He stuck to his policy of staying focused.
Three takedowns and a nearfall helped Bergelin prevail and become a three-time state champion, 9-0.
“It means everything to me,” Bergelin said of his third state championship.
“What this third state title meant to me was capping off the dream of being that standout wrestler at Denmark.”
His road was long and at times troublesome. The season and tournament threw everything it had at him, but Bergelin took a familiar pose at the conclusion.
“To end on a match that I dominated, it just really feels good.”
Denmark High School has never had a three-time state champion.
Formerly, Matt Vanden Bush held the all-time wins record and the only two-time state champion in the school’s history. Now, Bergelin’s legacy overshadows those Vanden Bush left back in the mid-1990’s.
Bergelin finishes his high school career with a 159-8 record, which is something you’ll see close to…well, never.
In Denmark, there may never be another bedroom with three state championship banners hanging in it. The coaches and trainers in the Stan Yazawa Wrestling Room, however, will work hard to bring another banner home.