March 7 Ellsworth Ends Lutheran’s Team Title Hopes

            Madison – Wisconsin Lutheran wrestling coach Darrell Roecker warned the Vikings that the cradle was coming from the Ellsworth Panthers.

There was just nothing the Vikings could do to stop the Panthers as Ellsworth defeated Lutheran, 37-27, Saturday afternoon in the Division 2 semifinals at the WIAA team state wrestling tournament at the Field House.

            Ellsworth, the defending Division 2 champion, improved its record to 18-4 and advanced to the final to face No. 1-ranked Freedom (14-2). Freedom defeated Sparta (13-7) in the other semifinal. Lutheran’s season finished at 18-2.

            Ellsworth turned Lutheran wrestlers 23 times – mainly with the cradle – in the dual for nearfall points, and won all the crucial matches with clutch takedowns and reversals. Ellsworth won nine of the 14 matches, including all four decided by four points or less.

            “We knew they were a good cradling team,” said Roecker. “We went over it in practice. They definitely put us to our backs a couple of times. I think a little bit of it was a few kids were shell-shocked.”

            Lutheran was making its first appearance at the tournament, and couldn’t have picked a better starting weight than 220 pounds.

            That’s right in the heart of the Vikings strongest wrestlers, and Lutheran won the first two matches to take a 9-0. Junior Bryce Roberts defeated Ellsworth junior Lucas Weighart, 10-3, at 220 and junior Quinten Reid followed with a pin of Ellsworth junior Ben Achenbach in 2 minutes 56 seconds at 285.

            But Lutheran junior Tyler Roecker failed to protect a 5-1 second-period lead when he was thrown for a takedown and two-nearfall points by Ellsworth freshman Owen Matzek at 106. Matzek’s reversal with 43 seconds left in the third period gave him a 7-5 lead.

            A late reversal was again a factor in the match at 126. Ellsworth sophomore Cole Skelton hit one with 26 seconds left on Lutheran freshman Elijah Rauch to seal a 7-4 victory.

            Ellsworth stole another victory from Lutheran at 160. Ellsworth senior Josh Hines’ takedown with 26 seconds left in that match lifted him to a 5-4 victory over Lutheran senior Malik Smith.

            The close matches just seemed to slip away from Lutheran, which needed every one missing a 120-pounder and senior starter Antoine Garrett (145). Garrett had knee surgery earlier this week.

            Lutheran seniors Tepra Wright (132) and Aaron Michaels (145) picked up pins as Lutheran got within 22-21 after nine matches, but Ellsworth won five consecutive matches from 152 to 182 to put the dual away.

            “I’m proud of the kids,” said Roecker. “It was a great group of seniors who provided leadership all year long and all four years. They bought into everything the coaches said and gave it everything they had.”

            Ellsworth coach Mark Matzek came away impressed with the Vikings.

            “They’re a tough team,” he said. “If those coaches stick around there, this won’t be the last time they’re down here.”

Division 3 Semifinals

            Spring Valley/Elmwood 37, Random Lake 22: The Cardinals (15-3) won eight of the 15 matches but advanced on the strength of bonus points against the Rams (16-2). The Cardinals received pins from juniors Ethan Hofacker (220), Andrew Webb (106) and Ryan Asher (182) and a technical fall from sophomore Cruze Hurlburt (132).

            Coleman 45, Fennimore 34: The No. 1-ranked Cougars (17-1) won trailed, 22-11, after six matches but won six matches from 132 by either a pin or a technical fall to build a 45-22 lead over the Golden Eagles (18-3).


Division 1

            Kaukauna 41, Stoughton 21: The No. 1-ranked Galloping Ghosts (20-1) won for the second consecutive year and denied Stoughton (24-2) its first title in nine appearances at the state tournament. Kaukauna won nine of the 14 matches. After Stoughton junior Collin Kraus defeated Kaukauna senior state champion Robert Lee by a 2-1 decision at 138 to pull Stoughton within 17-12, the Ghosts won five of the final seven matches to pull away for the title. Lee defeated Kraus, 1-0, at the state individual tournament a week ago in the quarterfinals on his way to the state title. Kraus won the 126 title last year. Lee was beaten twice at the tournament.

Division 2

            Freedom 34, Ellsworth 15: The No. 1-ranked Irish (15-2) won the first six matches of the dual to build a 20-0 lead and won 10 of the 14 matches to win their second state title in their fourth trip to the state meet. The Irish last won the title in 1997. Of those opening victories, five came by four or fewer points. Ellsworth (18-5) was denied its fifth state title since 2007.  Freedom senior state champion Ramsey Bloy recorded the only pin for the Irish wrestling at 182 pounds. He won the state title at 195.


Division 3

Spring Valley/Elmwood 40, Coleman 27: The Cardinals (16-3) finally won the title after three trips to the final in the past four years resulted in second-place finishes. SV/E junior Quinton Elliott pinned Coleman sophomore Josh Pillath in 3:54 at 170 to give the No. 2-ranked Cardinals a 37-18 lead with three matches remaining to seal the victory. No. 1-ranked Coleman (17-2) was in the final for the sixth consecutive year and seeking its fifth title in the span.