It’s quite likely both Nicolar Rivera and Kaden Reetz would be glad to settle the matter on the mat — despite their differences of 32 pounds and two years of experience.
That would be an easy solution. On paper, though, it’s just about impossible to determine whether the edge goes to Stoughton sophomore 120-pound wrestler Nicolar Rivera or Madison Memorial senior 152-pounder Kaden Reetz.
Both marched through undefeated seasons to win their conference championships, WIAA regional and sectional titles, and WIAA state individual meet crowns. Rivera, a two-time state champ, also led the Vikings to a repeat Division 1 team title to wrap up a 51-0 season. Reetz finished 47-0 and was the first Madison wrestler to win a title in 27 years.
And because it’s not possible to get the two together to work it out on the mat, Rivera and Reetz will share the Wisconsin State Journal’s 2019-2020 All-Area Wrestler of the Year honor.
Rivera, unbeaten in his two-year high school career, cut a fearsome swath through both WIAA state tournaments. He scored three pins and a major decision in the individual meet, including a pin of Kaukauna’s Mason Campshure in 2 minutes, 27 seconds in the final. At team state the following weekend, he went 3-0 with two pins and a technical fall as Stoughton beat Mukwonago to earn a repeat title.
“Ever since I was in kindergarten, I’ve had a dream of pinning someone in the state finals,” Rivera said. “It finally came true today.”
Reetz scored one pin, one major decision and two decisions to win his title, including a 14-8 decision over Hartland Arrowhead’s Noah Mulvaney in the final.
“This is a very good feeling,” Reetz said after becoming Memorial’s first individual champ in 33 years. “I know I’m not the most athletic kid in the world, but now other kids like me know they can pick up the sport and be good at it, too, if they do the work.”
Both won conference titles one weight class higher than their WIAA tournament weights — Rivera at 126 pounds, Reetz at 160.
Also considered for the award was Stoughton junior Brooks Empey, who won the championship at 220 pounds, went 60-1, and won his four matches at individual state by pin in a combined 7 minutes, 4 seconds.
Coach of the Year: Stoughton co-coaches Dan Spilde and Bob Empey have continued the longstanding history of wrestling success in the Vikings program, leading Stoughton to a repeat state team title after its wrestlers earned two championships and two third places at individual state.
The Vikings dominated the Badger Conference, going 6-0 in Badger South duals and winning the conference tournament. Their only dual-meet losses came in the closing weeks of the season, to Mukwonago and New Prague, Minnesota — and the Vikings avenged the loss to Mukwonago with a win in the Division 1 state final.
As a result, Spilde and Empey have been named All-Area Coaches of the Year.
WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL
2019-2020 ALL-AREA TEAM
First team: Chase Beckett, so., Portage (46-4): Earned a runner-up finish at Division 2 state, losing in overtime to Prairie du Chien’s Rhett Koenig in the final. Badger Conference runner-up.
Second team: Riley Nilo, so., Milton (42-8; won Badger Conference title).
Honorable mention: Ian Ramirez, jr., Janesville Parker (20-10, Big Eight champion); Parker Heintz, so., Lodi (39-16, Capitol Conference champ).
First team: Joey Coulter, jr., Janesville Craig (17-8, Big Eight champ).
Second team: Ryen Hazzard, sr., Edgerton (40-12, Rock Valley Conference runner-up).
Honorable mention: Chase Shortreed, sr., DeForest (36-11); Oscar Wilkowski, fr., Watertown (34-7, Badger Conference champ); Owen Breunig, fr., Lodi (11-14, Capitol champ).
First team: Nicolar Rivera, so., Stoughton (51-0): Completed his second undefeated run to a Division 1 state championship, scoring three pins and one major decision in the state tournament and 3-0 with two pins and a technical fall in the state team tournament. Badger Conference champ at 126.
Second team: Cash Stewart, so., Poynette (47-1): Scored a tiebreaker victory over Boyceville’s Josiah Berg in the Division 3 state championship match after earning two pins in earlier matches; won Capitol Conference title at 126.
Honorable mention: Chandler Curtis, so., Lodi (41-10, Capitol champ); Royce Nilo, fr., Milton (28-10); Juan Alonzo, jr., Waterloo (38-9); Kolby Heinz, jr., Waunakee (41-10, Badger Conference champ); Juan Armas, jr., Janesville Craig (23-9, Big Eight champ).
First team: Dominic Flores, so., Madison La Follette (30-16, Big Eight champ).
Second team: Edward Wilkowski, sr., Watertown (41-5, Badger Conference runner-up);
Honorable mention: Hunter Kieliszewski, so., Milton (26-21); Brady Schuh, so., Monroe (23-11); James Amacher, fr., Poynette (30-10); Jack McDonough, jr., Deerfield (29-13, Trailways Conference champ).
First team: Sam Lorenz, jr., Waunakee (39-10): Advanced to the quarterfinals of the Division 1 state tournament.
Second team: Caden Fry, sr., Reedsburg (37-8, Badger Conference champ).
Honorable mention: Trenton Dow, so., Stoughton (40-17); Nicholas Wilfong, jr., Deerfield (25-12); Joey Bellomo, sr., Janesville Craig (19-6, Big Eight champ); Joe Quaglia, jr., Belleville co-op (36-8, Capitol champ).
First team: Jessie Tijerina, sr., Portage (50-2): Finished third at Division 2 state after a 3-2 semifinal loss to eventual runner-up Charlie Stuhl of Ellsworth; won Badger Conference title.
Second team: Gunnar Hamre, fr., Poynette (46-5): Took fourth at Division 3 state; Capitol champ.
Honorable mention: Brandon Jesse, jr., Baraboo (42-11, Badger Conference runner-up); Mayson MacLennan, sr., Janesville Craig (45-7, Big Eight champ); Jakob Williams, so., Janesville Parker (31-12); Braysen Ellis, jr., Waunakee (33-15).
First team: Gavin Model, sr., Stoughton (59-6): Took third at Division 1 state after a 2-1 loss to eventual runner-up Jack Ganos of Hartland Arrowhead in a quarterfinal; Badger Conference champ; went 3-0 at state team tournament.
Second team: Cole Bavery, sr., Edgerton (29-1, Rock Valley champ).
Honorable mention: Lowell Arnold, so., Portage (42-6, Badger Conference runner-up); Berhett Statz, sr., Waunakee (43-12); Owen Heiser, fr., Oregon (31-13); Eli Davidson, sr., Baraboo (41-8); Keeghan Kjos, jr., River Valley (28-8, won SWC/SWAL Clash title); Cael Wozniak, so., Verona (30-9, Big Eight champ); Kobe Grossman, jr., Marshall (23-5, Capitol champ).
First team: Kaden Reetz, sr., Madison Memorial (47-0): Marched through the WIAA Division 1 individual tournament with a pin, a major decision and two decisions to win the championship; Big Eight champ at 160.
Second team: Luke Mechler, jr. Stoughton (60-3): Took third in the WIAA Division 1 individual tournament; won Badger Conference title at 160.
Honorable mention: Colton Nicolay, sr., Lodi (41-16, Capitol champ); Kolten Blome, jr., Watertown (22-15); Zachary Gunderson, jr., Monona Grove/McFarland (41-11, won Badger Conference title); Dominick Stroede, sr., Sun Prairie (16-9, Big Eight champ).
First team: Brody Hemauer, so., DeForest (43-10): Finished fourth in the Division 1 individual tournament.
Second team: Patrick Rielly, sr., Monroe (33-16): Took sixth at Division 2 state; Badger Conference runner-up.
Honorable mention: Kade Desormeau, so., Milton (31-19); Aiden Ciha, sr., Cambridge (25-9, Capitol champ).
First team: Dylan Hortsmeyer, sr., Marshall (51-5): Earned a runner-up finish in the Division 3 tournament.
Second team: Sawyer Helmbrecht, sr., Lodi (37-7): Finished sixth at Division 2 state after suffering an injury in his semifinal match; won Capitol Conference title.
Honorable mention: Colton Grindle, sr., Waunakee (20-6, Badger Conference champ); Aiden Estes, sr., Baraboo (33-6, Badger Conference runner-up); Marshall Getchell, sr., Janesville Craig (41-7, Big Eight champ); Trevor Wilkinson, sr., Edgerton (34-7, Rock Valley champ).
First team: John Gunderson, jr., Baraboo (39-2): Earned a runner-up finish in the Division 1 state tournament.
Second team: Marcus Hankins, sr., Sauk Prairie (48-9): Took fifth at Division 1 State after a semifinal loss to eventual champ Mason Diel of Hartland Arrowhead; Badger Conference runner-up.
Honorable mention: Alex Witt, sr., Monroe (46-10); Bryce Heerey, sr., Janesville Parker (38-12, Big Eight champ); Thomas Witkins, jr., Fort Atkinson (44-11); Ben Simplot, jr., Lodi (24-14, Capitol champ).
First team: Mitchell Schumann, sr., Janesville Craig (43-12): Earned a fourth-place finish at Division 1 state.
Second team: Tyler Sireci, sr., Beloit Memorial (38-6, Big Eight champ).
Honorable mention: Rudy Detweiler, jr., Stoughton (28-8); Ben Florencio, sr., Baraboo (34-15); Brock Beyer, so., Lodi (15-16, Capitol champ).
First team: Brooks Empey, jr., Stoughton (60-1): Rolled to the Division 1 individual championship, earning four pin victories in a combined 7 minutes, 4 seconds; won Badger Conference title.
Second team: Brady Schenk, jr., Janesville Craig (34-12, Big Eight champ).
Honorable mention: Simon Patterson, sr., Sauk Prairie (34-11, Badger Conference runner-up); Mika Gutoski, sr., Fort Atkinson (38-11); James Roche, sr., Columbus (32-6, Capitol champ).
First team: Bodie Minder, sr., Monroe (29-3, Badger Conference champion).
Second team: Reed Farrington, sr., Edgerton (38-9, Rock Valley champ).
Honorable mention: Jay Hanson, so., Verona (40-9, Big Eight Conference runner-up); Griffin Empey, fr., Stoughton (37-18); Patrick McDonald, jr., Madison Memorial (31-6, Big Eight champion); Wyatt Ripp, so., Lodi (27-11, Capitol champ).
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