A year after its state title came down to the final bout, Stoughton enjoyed a drama-free afternoon on Saturday.
So much so that the Vikings kept adding exclamation points to their second consecutive championship, turning the University of Wisconsin Field House into a purple party.
Stoughton won 10 of 14 weight classes in Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 state team wrestling championship against previously unbeaten Mukwonago, finishing with a dominant 42-14 decision.
“They really came in with a lot of confidence, and as hard as it to feel like you have the right tools going in, they felt like they were ready,” Stoughton co-coach Dan Spilde said. “You can’t make them do it and you can’t do it for them. They have to feel it, and they were just ready for it. It was pretty awesome to be a part of.”
The Vikings wrapped up a 21-0 dual-meet season and left no doubt which prep program was tops in Wisconsin this winter.
The excitement started at 113 pounds, where freshman Nicolar Rivera — fresh off an individual state championship at 106 earned last week — scored a major decision over the 113-pound state runner-up, Tyler Goebel, to end his remarkable first season at 58-0.
At 120, Dante Steinmetz followed with a pin in 1 minute, 48 seconds to make it 10-0.
Mukwonago briefly grabbed a 12-10 advantage, but the Vikings’ middle weights then flexed their muscle. Stoughton ran away with the match behind five consecutive victories — from Hunter Lewis (138), Luke Mechler (145), Gavin Model (152), Cade Spilde (160) and Brandt Spilde (170).
Each of those bouts seemed to be more exciting than the last as the Vikings built off each other’s successes to lock up the championship.
“We pride ourselves in those weights, and we know we have basically some of the best guys in the state at those weights,” said Cade Spilde, who picked up a dramatic pin with 12 seconds left in the third period.
Spilde’s win seemed particularly deflating to Mukwonago. He was winning 3-2 at the time of the takedown that led to the pin, and the Indians were still in striking distance, trailing 24-12.
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Brooks Empey, the son of co-coach Bob Empey, waited at 195 and knew he’d have a chance to seal the victory. Having grown up around this tournament, Brooks Empey had watched the Vikings lose on Championship Saturday three years in a row (from 2015-2017) before flipping the script last year.
The 195-pound state runner-up from last weekend cradled his way to a second-period pin to clinch the gold.
“I’ve been here enough and watched all these matches that we’ve lost,” Brooks Empey said. “I hate going home with that feeling when we lost a team state championship. It’s great to break through for the second time.”
Said Cade Spilde: “We trained like we had a target on our back. That way, we’d be ready for anything. We tried to stay to humble, and in the room we tried to tell ourselves we were the best and then train that way and expect them to come after us like no other.”
Fennimore, which had lost to Stratford in each of the past two state championship matches, roared to a 31-24 victory over the Tigers.
Coach Chad Steldt’s Golden Eagles won eight of the 14 matches, but held a 25-24 lead before closing out with Brody Lee’s pin in the final match at 106 pounds.
“Our guys showed up to wrestle,” Steldt said. “We wrestle this match 10 times, it could be split 50-50. ... We got a couple of moves (that) swung in our direction.”
In the semifinals, Fennimore beat St. Croix Falls 47-19 and Stratford downed Random Lake 41-24.
Freedom won the first five matches — and the last four — to put away a 35-16 victory over Ellsworth for its first state title since 2015. Ellsworth finished as runner-up for the second consecutive year.
In the semifinals, Freedom beat Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau/Melrose-Mindoro 35-24 and Wisconsin Lutheran 50-18.