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The sport of wrestling has only just begun taking Hunter Lewis all over the state, the nation and the world.

The Stoughton senior has competed in youth tournaments in Croatia, Poland, Estonia, Sweden and The Netherlands. Last July, he was part of the Team USA squad that went to Zagreb, Croatia, for the World Cadet Greco-Roman Championships.

And starting in the fall, he’ll learn all about the world of collegiate wrestling as a freshman at North Carolina State.

But there’s no doubt that two of his proudest moments in wrestling came just a few weeks ago, and just a few miles from his hometown of Stoughton.

On Feb. 23, Lewis won a repeat WIAA Division 1 individual state championship — this one at 138 pounds, after an 8-7 victory over Elkhorn’s Daniel Stilling in the final. He won his first WIAA title at 120 last year, and was the runner-up at 106 in 2017.

And on March 1 and 2, Lewis wrapped up his high school career in dominating fashion, winning two matches by major decision and another by pin to help the Vikings march to a repeat WIAA state team championship and finish the year ranked 49th in’s national team rankings.

His season record was 55-1, giving him a four-year varsity record of 202-24, with just nine losses over his final three years.

As a result, Lewis emerged from a deep and talented group — including a member of his own team — to be named the Wisconsin State Journal’s 2018-2019 All-Area Wrestler of the Year.

This year, Lewis’ only loss came on Jan. 5, in the final of the Cheesehead Invitational in Kaukauna, a 9-2 decision to Luke Odom of Edwardsville (Ill.) — who went on to win the Illinois Class 3A championship and is ranked 17th nationally by Intermat.

Also considered for the honor were Stoughton freshman Nicolar Rivera, who capped a 55-0 season by winning the Division 1 state individual title at 106 pounds; and River Valley senior Shane Liegel, who went 47-0 and repeated as a Division 2 state champion by scoring two pins and a technical fall at state.

Coaches of the Year: Stoughton spent the season dealing with the pressure of the No. 1 state ranking and the target on their backs that comes with being the reigning state team champion.

Led by co-coaches Dan Spilde and Bob Empey — each of whom had relatives in the varsity lineup — the Vikings worked straight through the pressure and met all their team goals, repeating as state champs.

Not only did the Vikings crown two champs at individual state, they added two runner-up finishes (Luke Mechler at 145 and Brooks Empey at 195) and one fourth-place finish (Cade Spilde at 160).

As a result, Spilde and Empey are honored as the State Journal’s All-Area Coaches of the Year.




106 pounds: Nicolar Rivera, fr., Stoughton. Went 55-0 and won the state championship with a major decision in the championship match. Ranked sixth nationally by

113: Quintin Gehrmann, sr., Jefferson. Earned a fourth-place finish in the Division 2 state meet to capo a 37-5 season.

120: Weston Wright, sr., Jefferson. Took sixth in the Division 2 state meet to close out a 33-17 season.

126: Edward Wilkowski, jr., Watertown. Earned a runner-up finish in the Division 1 state tournament, closing a 43-7 season.

132: Cole Bavery, jr., Edgerton. Battled to a fourth-place finish at Division 2 state to go 39-5 on the season.

138: Hunter Lewis, sr., Stoughton. Edged Daniel Stilling of Elkhorn, 8-7, in the Division 1 state final and finished his season with a 55-1 record.

145: Luke Mechler, so., Stoughton. Finished second in Division 1, falling to nationally ranked Keegan O’Toole of Hartland Arrowhead in the final, and finished 52-4.

152: Kevin Meicher, sr., Middleton. Finished second in Division 1 to wind up a 34-1 senior season, and a career that saw him win at 126 pounds in 2016, take second at 138 in 2017 and finish fourth at 152 last season.

160: Bryant Schaaf, sr., Sauk Prairie. Earned a runner-up finish in the Division 1 state meet to wrap up a 44-6 season.

170: Sawyer Helmbrecht, jr., Lodi. Dropped two matches at Division 2 state to finish a 28-4 season; won Capitol Conference and sectional titles.

182: Shane Liegel, sr., River Valley. Capped a 47-0 season with a repeat championship at 182 pounds in the Division 2 state tournament.

195: Brooks Empey, so., Stoughton. Went 53-7 and earned runner-up honors for the Vikings in the Division 1 state tournament.

220: Reed Ryan, sr., Waunakee. The All-Area football Player of the Year and a North Dakota State football recruit earned runner-up honors in the Division 1 state tournament, going 45-3 overall.

285: Keeanu Benton, sr., Janesville Craig. The University of Wisconsin football recruit earned runner-up honors at Division 1 state, closing a 42-2 season.


106: Riley Nilo, fr., Milton (40-9).

113: Cash Stewart, fr., Poynette (39-3).

120: Sam Lorenz, so., Waunakee (33-8).

126: Berhett Statz, jr., Waunakee (43-10).

132: Garrett Moll, sr., Lodi (42-7).

138: Devan Alt, sr., River Valley (34-16).

145: Logan Schmitz, sr., Mineral Point (37-6).

152: Kaden Reetz, jr., Madison Memorial (36-4).

160: Cade Spilde, sr., Stoughton (48-8).

170: Colton Grindle, jr., Watertown (41-8),

182: Zachary Marek, sr., Waunakee (43-9).

195: Tyler Sireci, jr., Beloit Memorial (36-8).

220: Matt Brewster, sr., Watertown (40-7).

285: Daniel Enloe, sr., Belleville co-op (33-14).


106: Ryen Hazzard, jr., Edgerton; Guillermo Tellez-Guiron, sr., Madison Memorial.

113: Juan Armas, so., Janesville Craig.

120: Jared Miller, sr., Evansville/Albany; Edward Pazdziora, sr., Madison La Follette.

126: Jaedon Heintz, sr., Lodi; Mayson MacLennan, jr., Janesville Craig; Jessie Tijerina, jr., Portage; Danny Pittz, sr., Mineral Point; Austin Scofield, so., Evansville/Albany; Nicholas Wilfong, so., Deerfield.

132: Caden Carey, sr., Mineral Point; Dakarai Clay, sr., Madison East ; Matt Kostroun, so., Evansville/Albany; Braeden Whitehead, jr., Stoughton; Isaiah Wollet, jr., Johnson Creek.

138: Kyle Smith, sr., Madison La Follette; Austin Soehle, sr., Lodi; Adam Staver, sr., Evansville/Albany.

145: Robert Chenoweth, jr., Belleville co-op; Marty Koenig, jr., Wisconsin Dells; Alden Romack, jr., Janesville Craig.

152: Gavin Model, jr., Stoughton; Colton Nicolay, jr., Lodi; Nolan Springer, so., Mineral Point.

160: Dylan Horstmeyer, jr., Marshall; Dean Neff, jr., Jefferson; Cayden Robson, jr., River Valley.

170: Remington Lockwood, sr., Middleton; Casey Ponyicsanyi, sr., Lakeside Lutheran; Hunter Stenson, sr., Wisconsin Dells.

182: Langston Brown, jr., Wisconsin Dells; Cole Lauersdorf, sr., Lakeside Lutheran; Mitchell Schumann, jr., Janesville Craig;

195: Gabe Pickarts, sr., Lodi; Lucas Sullivan, sr., Johnson Creek.

220: Gavin Adler, sr., Middleton; Lukas David, jr., Johnson Creek; Austin Meyer, sr., Lakeside Lutheran; Bodie Minder, jr., Monroe.

285: Reed Farrington, jr., Edgerton; Connor Warren, so., Sauk Prairie.

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Wisconsin State Journal prep sports editor Art Kabelowsky has traversed the state to cover sports while working for daily papers in Fort Atkinson, Racine, La Crosse, Milwaukee and Baraboo.