Milton's Nolan Shea stuck on repeat
MILTON—Nolan Shea misses gymnastics.
The Milton High junior loved the sport and showed great potential. Gymnastics, however, is not offered at the high-school level, so Shea decided to concentrate on wrestling.
One state title later, it’s safe to say he made a good choice.
Shea is the defending WIAA Division 1 state champion at 106 pounds and is the top-ranked wrestler at 113 pounds this season.
“Every now and then I think it would’ve been cool to see how I could’ve done in gymnastics,” Shea said. “But once I made the decision to wrestle, I’ve worked as hard as I could to be the best I could.”
Shea admits he had a good, but not great, regular season last year. He finished second at the Badger Conference tournament at 113 pounds and entered the postseason tournament with five losses. He wouldn’t lose again.
Dropping down to 106 pounds for the regional meet, Shea steamrolled his way to state. He won his first two matches at state handily before facing top-seeded Tres Leon of Kaukauna in the semifinals. A heavy underdog, Shea stayed even with Leon before securing a late takedown for a 7-6 win. Shea dominated in his title bout against Aaron Daly of Menomonee Falls, winning 11-4.
“I actually was pretty confident going into state,” Shea said. “All year, I had wrestled with (coach Pat) Jauch, and he kept telling me that he could see a state title for me because of my work ethic.
“And since I had wrestled against really good competition all season, I wasn’t that nervous at state. I just went out and wrestled like I was capable of.”
Shea is 21-2 this season, with both losses coming at a tournament in Illinois. He picked up a big win Friday night in Milton’s pivotal Badger Conference dual meet victory at Stoughton. Milton’s storied program has won 20 consecutive conference dual meet or tournament titles, and Shea said keeping that streak alive is paramount.
As part of his year-round training schedule, Shea travels twice weekly to Madison to the Advance School of Wrestling academy. He said the fierce competition wrestling against some of the state’s best keeps him grounded.
“I’m pretty hard on myself and was really mad about the way I wrestled when we went to Illinois,” Shea said. “Both losses were against guys I should’ve beat, especially the second loss I had.
“That’s why when I go to Advance and get to work with (instructor) Brad Owens, he really pushes you and doesn’t let you get down on yourself.”
Shea, the son of Kent and Lisa, set the bar high again this season. He’s currently wrestling at 120 pounds but could drop down to 113 for the postseason. His older brother, Landon, was a state champion in 2012, and their younger cousin, Dalton, a Milton freshman, is ranked No. 14 at 106 pounds.
Nolan would like to make it three state titles for the Shea family in three straight years.
“Once Nolan is feeling it, he’s awfully tough to beat,” Jauch said. “And he’s the type of kid that’s going to do what needs to be done to give himself a chance to repeat.
“I think any time you win a state title, you create pressure on yourself to repeat. Nolan understands that, but has enough confidence in his abilities to believe that when the time comes, he’ll be more than ready for the challenge.”