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WIAA team wrestling preview: Stoughton gears up to challenge Kaukauna for fourth consecutive Division 1 title
PREVIEW | WIAA STATE TEAM WRESTLING

WIAA team wrestling preview: Stoughton gears up to challenge Kaukauna for fourth consecutive Division 1 title

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THE BASICS

What: The 30th annual WIAA state team wrestling tournament.

When: Saturday.

Where: Division 1 at Kaukauna High School; Division 2 at Adams-Friendship High School; Division 3 at Wausau West High School.

Tickets: Tickets are $16 for the entire day.

Format: The WIAA introduced a separate state team tournament in 1992. Teams are seeded into bracketed pairings and wrestle full dual matches (14 weight classes), with the winning team advancing to the next round. Division 1 has an eight-team field; Divisions 2 and 3 have four teams each.

Live stream: All tournament matches will be streamed live on the WIAA.TV portal of the NFHS Network on a subscription basis ($10.99 per month). Archived streams will be available on demand 72 hours after the tournament.

On the Web: Schedules, lineups and tournament history can be accessed through the WIAA’s wrestling home page, www.wiaawi.org/Sports/Winter/Wrestling/Tournament. A free tournament program may be downloaded from www.wiaawi.org/Portals/0/PDF/Publications/Programs/2021teamwrestling.pdf. WIAA-licensed apparel may be browsed and ordered at wiaateamwrest21.itemorder.com.

Last year: In Division 1, Stoughton won its third consecutive championship (following two runner-up finishes) with a 32-30 victory over Mukwonago. Wrightstown won in Division 2 and Coleman won in Division 3.

THE SCHEDULE

Division 1Quarterfinals, 11 a.m.: Upper bracket — No. 4-seeded Waunakee (4-1) vs. No. 5 Marshfield (9-2); No. 1 Kaukauna (10-0) vs. No. 8 Brookfield East (3-3). Lower bracket — No. 2 Stoughton (4-1) vs. No. 7 Waterford (7-1); No. 3 Holmen (11-0) vs. No. 6 Slinger (12-1). Semifinals: About 1 p.m. Final: About 3 p.m.

Division 2Semifinals, 10:30 a.m.: No. 1 Amery (12-0) vs. No. 4 Kiel (5-2); No. 2 Prairie du Chien (9-3) vs. No. 3 Winneconne (9-3). Final: 20 minutes following semifinals.

Division 3Semifinals, 10:30 a.m.: No. 1 Coleman (8-1) vs. No. 4 Cadott (10-1); No. 2 Mineral Point (6-0) vs. No. 3 Random Lake (11-2). Final: About 1 p.m.

THE LOWDOWN

DIVISION 1

Stoughton, coached by Dan Spilde and Bob Empey, is making its eighth state visit in a row and 15th overall. The Vikings have won 10 state team titles, including the past three, with 10 runner-up finishes. At individual state last week, Stoughton sent five wrestlers to the championship round, but the only winner was Brooks Empey (13-0) at 220, a repeat champ at the weight. Taking second were Nicolar Rivera (11-1) at 132, Luke Mechler (12-1) at 160, Rudy Detweiler (12-1) at 195 and Griffin Empey (12-1) at 285. Cole Sarbacker (9-5) finished fifth at 113. The Vikings’ only dual-meet loss of the year came to Holmen.

Waunakee earned its first berth in the state team tournament after finishing second to Stoughton in the Mukwonago sectional. Its only dual-meet loss was to Holmen. Coach Mark Natzke’s Warriors had four state placewinners, including 138-pound runner-up Sam Lorenz (12-1). Daniel Ford (12-3) was third at 195, Kolby Heinz (10-4) fourth at 126 and Kaden Hooker (8-6) sixth at 182.

Kaukauna qualified for team state for the 12th time in 14 years and the 19th time overall, with its four titles coming consecutively from 2014 to 2017. Four runner-up finishes came earlier. Eight of coach Jeff Matczak’s Galloping Ghosts made state, with seven earning places. There were two champs: Greyson Clark (18-0) at 126 and Jager Eisch (17-0) at 132. Eisch handed Stoughton’s Rivera his only career loss in three years in the title match. Also, Griffin Bekish (17-3) was fourth at 170, Trevor Stuyvenberg (18-4) was fourth at 182, Titus Hammen (17-3) took fifth at 152, Logan Stumpf (14-5) was sixth at 138 and Alex Ashauer (15-4) was sixth at 220.

Holmen is making its fifth consecutive state trip and 11th overall, highlighted by a runner-up finish in 2018. Coach Jason Lulloff’s Vikings had Parker Kratochvill (18-4) take fourth at 132 at individual state, and Carter Vetsch (17-3) was fifth at 170.

Marshfield qualified for its fifth state tournament and third in the past four years but hasn’t advanced past the semifinal round. Coach Cody See’s Tigers lost regular-season duals to Schofield D.C. Everest and Wausau West. Taking fifth at individual state were Hoyt Blaskowski (17-2) at 132 and Gabe Pugh (13-2) at 138, with Ryan Dolezal (16-4) finishing sixth at 152.

Slinger is at team state for the fourth straight year but has fallen in the first round each previous time. Coach Jeff Rollins’ Owls lost a regular-season dual to Marshfield. The Owls’ only individual state qualifier, Noah Tonsor (21-0), won the 113-pound title.

Waterford is at state for the third time and earned a runner-up finish in 1997. The Wolverines had two individual state placewinners: Hayden Halter (13-1), second at 126, and Joshua Cherba (14-2), third at 138.

Brookfield East made its first state trip last year and fell in the first round. Coach Andrew Mueller’s Spartans had one state qualifier, Connor Thorpe (13-0), who won the championship at 145.

DIVISION 2

Amery cruised through the regular season unbeaten and won the Neillsville sectional to earn its first state team berth. Coach Mike Kelly’s Warriors had seven individual state qualifiers, with 195-pounder Kale Hopke (20-0) and 220-pounder Koy Hopke (20-0) earning titles. Also, Robert Beese (18-1) was second at 285, Wyatt Ingham (20-1) took third at 120, Walker Ingham (10-1) was third at 160, Jordan Penard (19-2) was fourth at 138 and Mason Tylee (18-3) finished sixth at 145.

Prairie du Chien made its first team state trip last year and earned a return trip by winning the Richland Center sectional. Coach Mike Rogge’s Blackhawks lost regular-season duals to team state qualifiers Mineral Point, Stoughton and Holmen. The Blackhawks had seven state qualifiers, led by 113-pound champion Rhett Koenig (19-1) and 170-pound runner-up Bradyn Saint (17-1). Also, Matt Rogge (17-2) took fifth at 152 and Maddox Cejka (14-6) was sixth at 132.

Winneconne earned its first state trip by winning the Seymour sectional. Coach Tyler Lee’s Wolves lost regular-season duals to Shiocton, Coleman and Freedom. Winneconne had two individual state champs: Brody Hart (20-0) at 120 and Caleb Meunier (18-2) at 126. Also, Evan Miller (15-7) was sixth at 182.

Kiel earned its first state appearance in 20 years and second overall after winning its own sectional. Coach Davin Horneck’s Raiders lost regular-season duals to Brillion and Shawano and had five individual state qualifiers, though Evan Dessellier (13-2) was the only placewinner, taking fifth at 120.

DIVISION 3 Coleman earned a state berth for the 15th time overall and second year in a row after winning the championship last year. Coach Kevin Casper’s Cougars are chasing a 12th team championship. The Cougars lost their season-opening dual to Luxemburg-Casco. At individual state, Karson Casper (16-1) was second at 170, leading four placewinners. Tyler Blanchard (15-4) took third at 170, Spencer Karban (16-2) was third at 285 and Ray LeMieux (15-5) took sixth at 113.

Mineral Point earned its 11th team state trip and its first since a string of five consecutive appearances ended in 2011. The Pointers won five state titles in the current team format, including three in a row from 2007 to 2009, along with six team championships in the earlier format. The Pointers had six state qualifiers and two champs in Nolan Springer (14-0) at 170 and Mason Hughes (13-2) at 182. Also, Lucas Sullivan (13-2) was second at 113, Tarrin Riley (13-1) was second at 126, Bo Hanson (12-4) was sixth at 160 and Daniel Nordstrom (10-4) took sixth at 220.

Random Lake has qualified for team state for the 10th consecutive year and 12th time overall, but the Rams’ top finish was a runner-up finish in 2009. Coaches Matt Vandenbush and Mike Mueller saw their team suffer regular-season losses to Brillion and Wrightstown before it won the Dodgeland sectional. At individual state, Aiden Vandenbush (21-0) won the title at 160, Samuel Schwabe (19-2) was second at 170 and Brock Upson (18-4) took third at 195.

Cadott is making its sixth state trip and first since tying for the Division 3 title in 2007. The Hornets also won a title in 2001 and took second in 2005. Coach John Spaeth’s team lost a dual to the Neillsville co-op but won the St. Croix Falls sectional. The Hornets crowned two individual state champs last week: Brayden Sonnentag (19-0) at 120 and Gavin Tegels (18-1) at 220.

— Art Kabelowsky

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