WHITEWATER — Carter Friend has wrestled on big stages before.
The Whitewater sophomore made the trip to the Alliant Energy Center in Madison for the youth state championships six times and won a title once.
He’s hoping that experience will pay off when he makes his first trip to the WIAA Division 2 State Wrestling Tournament on Thursday.
“I feel like it’s similar, obviously the Kohl Center is bigger, and it’s high school state wrestling, which is a bigger deal,” said Friend, “but I feel like I’ve wrestled on the big stage before.”
Last season as a freshman Friend wasn’t able to reach the big stage.
Wrestling at 152 pounds, Friend was unable to make it out of regionals. This season he won a regional title with a 3-1 sudden victory over Beloit Turner senior Tre´veon Bivens.
Friend punched his ticket to the state meet at a Division 2 sectional after he beat Edgerton’s Andrew Hansen in the 152-pound semifinal, but was defeated by Bivens in the finals. He lost a second-place wrestleback to Lodi senior Colton Nicolay.
“It sucks, after you win your semifinal match you’re on such a high,” Friend said. “It’s like, ‘oh, I’m going, everything is good.’ I feel like I was satisfied with just going, I know I could have wrestled better and I could have taken first.”
The back-to-back losses at sectionals hurt Friend’s seeding, who will take on North Fond Du Lac/St. Mary’s Spring senior Andrew Forsythe — who is ranked third in the state in Division 2 at 152 pounds — in his opening-round match.
“He’s (Forsythe) got everything to lose, I have nothing to lose. I’m only a sophomore, he’s a senior,” said Friend, who is ranked 10th in the weight class. “I’m going to go out there confident and wrestle my match.”
Friend has had that type confidence all season.
After he fell short his freshman campaign, he was sure he would be wrestling in late February in Madison this season.
“I was expecting this (state),” Friend said. “I got my head on straight. I believed I was going to make it there. Another year helps me get more confident. I was more ready for it.”
Friend will be the lone Whitewater representative at the state meet. Senior David Cushman finished fourth at 145 pounds at the sectional.
“I think it’s (being the lone representative) neat,” Friend said. “Obviously I wish David made it too, that would have been awesome. But I’m excited.”
Carter faces off with Forsythe in the WIAA Division 2 State Wrestling Tournament Thursday night at the Kohl Center in Madison.
“I’m just going to go out there and look to upset him,” Friend said. “I want to shock some people out there.”