MADISON – Fond du Lac senior heavyweight Donte Johnson wanted to end his prep wrestling career with a state championship.
He’ll settle for a third-place finish.
Johnson bounced back from a heartbreaking loss in the semifinals on Friday night to take third place at 285 pounds at the WIAA Division 1 individual state meet on Saturday afternoon at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Johnson defeated Ashwaubenon’s Daniel Cole by 12-3 major decision in the third-place match. Earlier in the day, he knocked off Hartford’s Quinn Meinerz by 6-2 decision in the consolation semifinals to reach the third-place match.
On Friday night in the semifinals, Johnson fell to top-ranked Blaze Beltran of Pewaukee by 3-1 sudden victory.
“It was bitter at first,” Johnson said of his semifinal loss. “But if I had to lose to anybody, it would be to Blaze. That’s my man right there. We’re going to room together and play (foot)ball together (at the University of Minnesota Duluth). I wouldn’t want to lose to anybody else but him at this tournament. You don’t want to lose, but it’s done and over with and I had fun doing it.”
Re-focusing mentally can sometimes prove to be a tough task for any athlete that suffers a disappointing loss, but that wasn’t an issue for the happy-go-lucky Johnson, who put Friday night’s defeat behind him and wrestled two great matches on Saturday.
“I was just being my old self,” Johnson said. “I knew it wasn’t over yet. I knew I had two more matches. I wasn’t going to quit just because I lost.”
In the third-place match against Cole, Johnson dominated from start to finish and capped off his wrestling career in style. “I went out there with that motor,” he said. “I just wanted to go out there and compete and that’s what I did. I had everybody back at Fond du Lac supporting me and I didn’t want to let them down, so I gave it everything I had. It ended how I wanted it to.”