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Tigers to tangle at state

Tigers to tangle at state Tigers to tangle at state

Stratford on to state for the fifth consecutive year

By Casey Krautkramer

Stratford head wrestling coach Joe Schwabe deployed a solid strategy to help his team beat St. Croix Falls in the WIAA Division 3 sectional championship match on Tuesday in Cumberland.

The Tigers will make their fifth straight appearance in the state team wrestling tournament on Saturday, March 7, at the UW Fieldhouse in Madison. Joining Stratford at Division 3 team state this year are Coleman, Fennimore and Random Lake. The WIAA will seed these four wrestling teams on Saturday, Feb. 29, to determine the Division 3 state semifinal matchups at 10 a.m. on March 7. The state team finals are at 3 p.m. the same day.

No. 2 ranked Stratford beat Marawood Conference foe Phillips, 64-10, in the sectional semifinal match on Tuesday. Stratford then built a commanding 43-12 lead against St. Croix Falls in the sectional championship match. Coach Schwabe knew the Tigers had already beaten the Saints at this point in the match, so he forfeited the last three weight classes. These forfeits gave St. Croix Falls an additional 18 points to give Stratford a 43-30 match win.

Coach Schwabe had sophomore Gavin Kirsch face off against sophomore Kole Marko, who is St. Croix Falls’ best wrestler, in the 145-pound bout during the sectional finals match. Kirsch is an average grappler this season compared to Marko, who is ranked No. 1 in the 145-pound Division 3 weight class. Marko won the individual 138-pound state title last season.

Stratford’s coaching staff relied on Kirsch to not surrender any bonus team points against Marko. Kirsch held his ground and only lost a 6-2 decision to Marko which only gave the Saints three team points instead of four points for a major decision, five for a tech fall and six for a pin.

Tiger wrestlers Gavin Drexler, Max Schwabe, Elijah Lucio, Jacob Heiden, Devin Dennee, Raife Smart and Trevor Dennee all won both of their individual sectional weight class bouts against Phillips and St. Croix Falls.

Twin brothers Trevor and Devin Dennee are both members of Stratford wrestling squads who’ve qualified for the state team tournament the past four years. Trevor said on the team’s bus ride home from Cumberland late Tuesday night that he’s grateful for the opportunity to compete in four consecutive team state tournaments.

“It’s good our team is going back down to state, because we have lots of experience there; we will be ready to wrestle,” Trevor said.

Tigers win regional title

The Stratford wrestling team fended off a tough Cadott squad to win its seventh consecutive WIAA Division 3 regional championship on Saturday.

Stratford tallied 296.5 points, ahead of Cadott’s 276. The Tigers advanced to Tuesday night’s team sectional championships in Cumberland. Athens finished in third place with 127.5 points, Marathon fourth with 73, Edgar fifth with 70, Cornell/Gilman sixth with 34 and Thorp seventh with 11. The top two wrestlers in each weight class competing in the regional tournament advance to individual sectionals. The following eight Stratford wrestlers won regional championships: Junior Karter Stuttgen at 113 pounds, sophomore Gavin Drexler at 126, senior Max Schwabe at 132, sophomore Elijah Lucio at 138, freshman Konner Stuttgen at 145, junior Jacob Heiden at 152, senior Devin Dennee at 160 and senior Trevor Dennee at 195.

Four Tiger grapplers placed second at regionals consisting of sophomore Benno Wenzel at 120 pounds, junior Hunter Ford at 170, sophomore Raife Smart at 182 and junior Beau Gross at 285.

Heil stays unbeaten

Edgar senior Ethan Heil kept his undefeated match record intact this season by winning the WIAA Division 3 individual 220-pound championship on Saturday in Cadott. He is the lone Wildcat wrestler to advance to the individual sectionals competition.

Three Wildcat grapplers took third place at regionals including sophomore Blake Tartar at 126 pounds, junior RJ Knetter at 182 and senior Austin Miller at 285. Sophomore Jesse Jisko placed fourth at 145 pounds and freshman Keghan Hartway fifth at 132.

Four Bluejays advance

Athens is sending the following four wrestlers, who took second place at regionals, to this Saturday’s individual sectional in Edgar: Freshman Brooks Kraus at 106 pounds, senior Carter Brunke at 145, senior Spencer Kraus at 160 and senior Connor Westfall at 195.

Marathon’s season ends

No Marathon wrestlers advanced out of regionals to the individual sectional tournament in Edgar. The following four Red Raiders placed third in their regional weight classes, to just barely miss qualifying for sectionals: Freshman Mason Putnam at 106 pounds, junior Jared Sweno at 138, freshman Hector Pintor at 152 and junior Nick Sommers at 170.