Freshman Halter captures state championship

Hayden Halter (right) dominates Menomonee Falls’ Casey Reigstad in an opening round match at 106 at the WIAA state tournament in Madison Feb. 22. Halter won, 12-1. (Tim Burd/SLN)


By Mike Ramczyk

What a way to celebrate a birthday.

On Saturday night at the Kohl Center in Madison, one day before his 15th birthday, Burlington High School freshman Hayden Halter enjoyed an early present at the WIAA state wrestling tournament.

The 106-pounder capped off a dominant state run, beating Stevens Point’s Justin Groshek, 5-1, for a Division 1 state championship, the Demons’ first since Josh Bird in 2015.

Immediately after the match, Halter flexed and screamed in jubilation, as more than 20 family members watched from the crowd. The other half of the family live-streamed the tournament online in Florida.

The next day, it was party time.

The Halters, who had rented a house in Madison for the weekend with Hayden’s grandparents, aunts and uncles, among others, went out to eat.

It was Hayden’s choice, and after a grueling four months of cutting weight, eating right and doing all the things it takes to win a state title, he could finally exhale.

“I was pretty much eating all day,” Halter joked during a phone interview Monday night. “In the morning, I had doughnuts, and then we went to Buffalo Wild Wings. I had about 18 wings.”

Still buzzing from the excitement of reaching state wrestling’s pinnacle two days later, Halter said it was an amazingly gratifying feeling when his hand was raised in victory.

“I did all the hard work,” he said. “All the cutting weight, and the hard times where you had to push through when you thought you couldn’t paid off. I’m feeling pretty great about it.”


Family first

Halter, the oldest of four siblings, including a seven-month-old baby, Hank, who is the first to get a hug from Hayden after each match, takes after his dad, who wrestled at Waterford Union High School.

Hayden grew up in Rochester, and he got into wrestling at about 4 years old. For the last several years, his parents would drive him to Libertyville, Ill., to wrestle for Team Poeta, named after Mike Poeta, a former college wrestling star at the University of Illinois.

They were making the 45-minute trip three or four times per week, so the family moved down there last year. For Hayden’s freshman year, they moved back to Honey Creek, although Hayden still wrestles for Poeta.

It’s this kind of dedication and passion for wrestling that helps make Hayden successful, and his family couldn’t be more proud.

“We have a very close family,” said Hayden’s mother Brynn. “Hayden has always been a very protective and responsible big brother. It’s really awesome to see him care for his younger brothers and sisters the way he does.”

Halter, who wrestled at 113 pounds most of the season, finished the year 49-2.

He had to cut weight to perform at 106 pounds for the playoffs and state tournament, and when things kicked off in Madison last Thursday, Hayden was ready.


To read the complete story see the March 1 edition of the Burlington Standard Press. The newspaper is available at retail outlets throughout the area. For weekly delivery click the following link: SUBSCRIBE