Proving that anything worth having is worth working for, Oak Creek 160-pound wrestler Ben Hakes went the full mile Thursday at the WIAA State Individual Tournament in making Friday's semifinals.
Hakes (44-1) had a small lead over Oshkosh West's Cole Yoder (26-8) for most of the first-round bout before pinning him at 5:56 and then in the quarterfinals, he got a key reversal at the start of the third period and then held on for a 4-3 win over Hortonville's stubborn Nate Rynish (39-9).
The two victories advance Hakes, in his first state tournament appearance, to Friday's 6 p.m. semifinals at the Kohl Center in Madison agains Wausau West's Travis Hettinga (43-3).
The championship bouts will be 6 p.m. Saturday.
"A lot of hard work went into this," he said. "I just had to make sure that I wrestled like I had all season. Do what got me here in the first place."
That meant staying focused against the tenacious Rynish, who kept moving, who kept forcing the action. Hakes' key move came right at the start of the third as he chose down and made a deftly turned reversal.
Rynish then escaped shortly thereafter, but the two spent the rest of the bout blocking each other with Hakes never being in any serious danger.
"I just kept positive and maintained good position," he said.
Getting this far is a major achievement for Hakes. One he reminded himself that he wanted to earn almost everyday before the start of the season.
"It feels awesome," he said. "Over the summer (while working out) I would write down my goals. Three times each day, I made sure to write down 'I want to be a state placewinner.'"
And now he will be.