WIAA State Wrestling Preview
The 70th Annual Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Individual Wrestling Championship Tournament will be held Thursday-Saturday at the Kohl Center in Madison on the campus of the University of Wisconsin.
All six mats of the Friday evening's semifinal matches and the three mats of Saturday evening's finals will be streamed live on foxsportswisconsin.com. The championship finals for all divisions will be aired tape-delayed on FS Wisconsin. The Division 1 title bouts are scheduled to air March 31 at 2 p.m. The Division 2 championship match is scheduled to air March 22 at 9 p.m., and the Division 3 championship match will air March 17 at 5 p.m. Please check local cable listings for the FS Wisconsin channel in your area.
Bay Port, Burlington and Kaukauna boast having qualified the most wrestlers to the field in Division 1 with eight. Oconomowoc is next in line with seven. Ellsworth and Sparta have qualified the most wrestlers in Division 2 with seven. Amery, Lomira and Luxemburg-Casco are next with six qualifiers. In Division 3, Random Lake has the distinction of having the most qualifiers this season with nine. Coleman is next with eight qualifiers. Lancaster has seven competitors, and Johnson Creek and Weston/Ithaca each have six. There are 19 former champions in the tournament field this year, and 17 seeking to defend the title they won last year.
In Division 1, six former champions, including five of last year's champions, return to the tournament in hopes of adding another crown. Junior Ben Thornton of La Crosse Central has qualified in the 113-pound weight class after winning the title at 106 last season. He enters competition as the only undefeated wrestler in his bracket with a 46-0 mark. Sophomore Robert Lee of Kaukauna moves up a weight class to 120 after winning the 113 championship a year ago as a freshman. He enters competition with a 41-4 record this season. Keeping with the trend at the earlier weights in the division, the 120 champion from last year moves up a weight to 126. Senior Colin Baine of Wausau West seeks to win his second crown in as many years, entering the State Tournament with a 46-0 record, one of two undefeated competitors in the 126 bracket. Senior Andrew Crone of Arrowhead won the 103 championship back in 2011 and looks to regain his championship form in the 132-pound class this season. Entering action at 38-2, he will need to contend with a pair of undefeated wrestlers that placed in the top five of their respective weights last year. Senior Travis Smith of Milwaukee Bradley/Carmen is in pursuit of his second consecutive championship. As the reigning champion at 138, he moves up a division to 145 where he has posted a 47-1 tally this year. It appears his stiffest competition to repeat will come from one wrestler that has yet to lose this season, and one that has just one blemish on the record. Senior Jake Stilling of Elkhorn is looking to defend the title he won at 170 last season. His 42-1 record this season is tops among the 16 competitors in the bracket.
The Division 2 field includes five returning champions, including four of last year's winners and two multiple champions. Senior Jacob Morrissey of Oconto Falls and junior Jens Lantz of Ellsworth headline the list of returning champs as two-time title winners. Morrisey qualifies at 170 this season after capturing glory at the same weight last season and at 171 in 2011. He possesses a 41-0 record this season, one of three undefeated wrestlers in his bracket. Lantz was the 113 champion last season and the 103 title winner in 2011. He moves up to contend for the title at 120 this season with a 39-5 record. Senior Colin Dolata of Mauston won the 130-pound championship two seasons ago. He returns this season with a 40-5 record entering the 138-pound class in hopes of recapturing a State title. Senior Seth Liegel of River Valley hasn't lost a match since his sophomore season. He enters the tournament as the only undefeated wrestler in his bracket at 43-0. He moves up to 152 in an attempt to win his second straight championship after posting a 45-0 mark en route to the 145 title in 2012. Senior Newton Smerchek of Luxemburg-Casco is the defending champion at 285. He has his sights on retaining the crown, entering competition with a 44-2 record this season.
There are eight defending champions returning in Division 3, including two multiple champions. Senior Riley Knops of Glenwood City conquered the 103-pound weight class in 2011 and repeated the feat at 106 last season. He moves up two brackets to 120 in an attempt to win his third straight crown. Knops enters the State Tournament with a 39-1 record. Senior Austin Moe of Glenwood City qualifies at 145 this season with a mark of 39-1. He won the championship at 130 in 2011, and he followed that accomplishment with a title at 138 last season. Senior Austin Loos of Lourdes Academy won the 120 championship last season. He moves up a weight class to 126 to contend for his second title with a 19-0 record in limited action this season. Cashton senior Dominic Flock's quest for a second straight title is somewhat of an anomaly, moving down a weight class to qualify at 152 after winning the 160 championship a year ago. He has compiled a 41-1 mark this year. With Flock's decent in weight class, there will be just one returning champion in the 160-pound bracket. Junior Ethan Soderstrom of Lancaster moves up into the 160-pound bracket after winning at 152 last year. He has a 46-4 record heading into State competition. Senior Luke Nowak of Edgar is the only undefeated wrestler in the 182-pound bracket at 42-0. He moves up a weight after his title performance at 170 in 2012. Senior Isaac Nowak of Coleman returns to the 195-pound class in an attempt for his second consecutive championship. He enters the meet with a 34-8 record and has not been afforded a first-round bye on his road to repeating as champion. Senior Cole Johnson of De Soto is the returning champion at 285, and he hasn't suffered a defeat this season at 44-0. While he's the only wrestler in the bracket without a defeat, there are two others with just one loss that could provide an obstacle to a repeat performance.
There are 31 wrestlers who enter the State Tournament this weekend undefeated, including 12 in Division 1, 12 in Division 2 and seven in Division 3. The 12 Division 1 wrestlers entering the State Tournament with perfect records are sophomore Tres Leon of Kaukauna (10-0) at 106, junior Ben Thornton of La Crosse Central (46-0) at 113, seniors Colin Baine of Wausau West (46-0) and Tyler Rice of Kenosha Tremper (50-0) at 126, seniors Joe Umlauf of Wausau West (34-0) and Gabe Grahek of Marquette (43-0) at 132, junior Jared Scharenbrock of Sun Prairie (42-0) at 145, seniors Aaron Rothwell of Sheboygan North (43-0) and Quinn Faust of Mount Horeb/Barneveld (46-0) at 182, senior Eric Peissig of Menomonie (45-0) at 195, and senior Dakota Johnson of Elkhorn (33-0), and junior Tyler Schmidt of Merrill (41-0) at 220. In Division 2, those still undefeated heading into the State Tournament are senior Joseph Nguyen of St. Lawrence Seminary (34-0) at 106; junior Ty Pelot of Two Rivers (42-0) at 113; senior Mitchell Friedman of Oconto Falls (41-0) at 138; senior Tyler Weyer of Baldwin-Woodville (41-0) at 145; senior Seth Liegel of River Valley (43-0) at 152; seniors Jacob Morrissey of Oconto Falls (41-0), Hunter Colden of Brodhead/Juda (47-0) and Jordan Newman of St. John's NW Military (34-0) at 170; junior Joe Rademacher of St. Croix Falls (42-0) at 182; senior Joey Dedick of East Troy (43-0) at 195; and junior Austin Roberts of Rice Lake (29-0) at 220; and senior Garett Cary of Big Foot/Williams Bay (11-0) at 285. The unblemished records in Division 3 belong to sophomore Kal Gerber of Cameron (44-0) at 113, senior Austin Loos of Lourdes Academy (19-0) and sophomore Devin Lemanski of Edgar (42-0) at 126, senior Luke Nowak of Edgar (42-0) at 182, senior Markus Armstrong of Ladysmith (32-0) at 195, senior Christian Moore of Royall (42-0) at 220, and senior Cole Johnson of De Soto (44-0) at 285.
There are an additional 32 wrestlers in the meet that have suffered defeat only once this season.
The WIAA State Tournament central webpage is at http://www.wiaawi.org/Sports/Wrestling.aspx