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dow photo 11-9

Stoughton's Tyler Dow reacts after winning the WIAA Division 1 state championship at 160 pounds in February at the Kohl Center.

STOUGHTON — Stoughton senior Tyler Dow examined his options and did his due diligence, but his mind and heart kept coming back to one place: the University of Wisconsin.

Dow, the defending WIAA Division 1 wrestling champion at 160 pounds, made his oral commitment to the Badgers official when he signed a National Letter of Intent during a ceremony Wednesday at Stoughton High School.

Wednesday marked the first day of the fall signing period. UW announced the signing of five wrestlers, including four blue-chippers from the state. That included two from the area: Dow and Sun Prairie’s Drew Scharenbrock, the defending Division 1 champion at 138 pounds.

“It was exciting,” said Dow, flanked during the signing by his parents, Kristen and Mel Dow, who is Stoughton’s athletic director. “It was a big day. It has meant a lot. It was a goal of mine to have this dream come true. I’ve always wanted to wrestle for Wisconsin. When I was picking a school to go to, I always had that in the back of my mind: Wisconsin is home.

“I’ve known the coaches. I’ve known the team. I’ve seen what they can do and what they can accomplish and what the future holds for the program. So, it’s a big day. I’m glad it’s finally here.”

Tyler Dow said his trust in UW coach Barry Davis and the staff was an important reason in his decision. But maybe it was meant to be that Dow, who said he also visited Iowa State and North Carolina State, wound up at UW.

Dow said he can be seen in a photo as part of a wrestling mural on a wall at UW: As a youngster, he was a face in the crowd at a Badgers match.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Dow, who stands ninth nationally at 170 pounds in the InterMat high school rankings.

“Tyler is a special kid,” Davis said in a release. “He has been coming to Badger wrestling meets since he was a little kid. We’ve always thought of him as part of the Badger family. He is one of the nicest young men you could meet, but is a fierce competitor.

“He gets better every time he steps on the mat. … Tyler may be the most dangerous wrestler in the country in any upper-body scenario. He’s not afraid to go big.”

Bob Empey, Stoughton’s wrestling co-coach with Dan Spilde, praised Dow for his work ethic and competitive nature.

“The best thing is he is reaching a dream that he had from when he was young; he wanted to wrestle for the Badgers,” Empey said. “I am proud to have watched him seek his dream, work toward his dream — while doing that with great character — and now get his dream. And he’s not done yet.”

Tyler Dow and Empey were excited that Stoughton’s connection with UW will continue in the next several weeks. A dual meet dubbed “The Battle in the Barn” between Stoughton and Milton has been scheduled for 5 p.m. on Dec. 7 at the UW Field House, before UW wrestles Maryland at 8 p.m., Mel Dow said.

Leading up to that event, the Badgers are scheduled to practice at 4 p.m. Friday at Stoughton, and then Monday at Milton, Mel Dow said.

“It is a unique opportunity; I haven’t heard of anything like this before in the state of Wisconsin in wrestling. It’s pretty monumental, I think,” Mel Dow said. “I appreciate the fact that the Badgers are reaching out to the (high school) coaches and teams in the state to help their program grow and make people know about them.”

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Jon Masson covers high school sports for the Wisconsin State Journal. He has covered a variety of sports — including the Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin men's and women's basketball and volleyball — since he first came to the State Journal in 1999.