Sophomore excels at wrestling

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Sophomore Travis Wittlake Jr. is fighting his way to the top. With 12 years of wrestling experience, __ national championships and two state championships, Wittlake Jr. has high goals for his future.

After high school he plans to go to a university and try to make the Olympic team.

He said his first step is to go to Ohio from June 2 to June 5 to compete to be on the High School World Wrestling Team.

“Making the World team would definitely be my biggest achievement,” Wittlake Jr. said.

According to Marshfield wrestling coach Travis Wittlake Sr., his son has everything needed to meet his goals for the future.

“He’s the whole package,” Wittlake Sr. said. “Focus, goal setting, mental toughness and work ethic are what it takes and he has it all.”

According to Wittlake Jr., his goals are to be a four-year state champion, make the high school world team, and eventually become an Olympic gold medalist.

“Those are goals that he’s had since he was little,” Wittlake Sr. said. “Ever since he knew there was a world championship he wanted to be a world champion.”

PE teacher Brad Mckechnie has been the assistant coach during Travis Jr.’s first two years of high school wrestling. According to Mckechnie, the amount of work the team puts in is required to be at a state champion level. Working for hours every day, team members prepare for state and expect nothing less than success.

“Becoming a state champion doesn’t just happen overnight,” Mckechnie said. “Those kids work at it for years and years.”

Sophomore Aj Lira, who has wrestled alongside Wittlake Jr., described him as a very dedicated, hard worker with a great work ethic.

“He’s always doing something in the wrestling room,” Lira said. “Even if our coach can’t make it, we’re always doing something to get better.”

Mckechnie said Wittlake Jr. constantly inspires him to improve himself.

“He’s the type of kid that makes me want to be a better coach and a better teacher,” Mckechnie said. “There’s not too many kids out there like that.”

According to Wittlake Jr., he draws his inspiration from his teammates and Olympic wrestlers, but most of all, his dad. He also said his dad has been his coach his whole life and has taught him everything he knows about wrestling.

“He got me into it. He wrestled in high school,” Wittlake Jr. said. “I wouldn't be where I am without him.”

According to Mckechnie, he admires the relationship Wittlake Sr. has with his son.

“It’s a special relationship with him and his dad,” Mckechnie said. “It’s a hug and his dad telling him he loves him before every single match. There’s definitely a special kind of love.”

Lira said he has seen the interaction between Wittlake Jr. and his father as loving and motivational.

“His dad and him are really close,” Lira said. “I know his dad loves him and he loves his dad a lot.”

According to Lira, Wittlake Sr. is very dedicated to the team and always pushes them to do their best.

“He’s always getting him in the best position for wrestling and doing whatever he can,” Lira said.

According to Wittlake Sr., they have had rituals for before matches since the beginning.

“Since he was four years old I’ve given him a hug, kissed him on the cheek and told him to ‘get after it’ before every single match and that is still to this day,” Wittlake Sr. said. “I’m very proud of him as a dad and a coach.”

Wittlake Sr. said the journey hasn’t always been easy, but his hard work has gotten him this far.

“There’s been a few bumps in the road here and there so he set goals and worked to get over them,” Wittlake Sr. said.

Mckechnie said he is honored to work with wrestlers like Wittlake Jr.

“He’s one of the most internally driven people I’ve ever met,” Mckechnie said. “Some kids just have that inside of them, they just want to be the best at whatever they’re doing.”

According to Wittlake Jr., the motivation from his dad got him to where he is today.

“You have to be committed and focus on what you do,” Wittlake Jr. said. “Every chance you get, take advantage of it and work hard.”