EDGERTON — Lodi senior Hunter Grams knew a team state berth was on the line as he stepped onto the mat for the final match Tuesday night.
“I had to keep the adrenaline down, wrestle smart and stick to my stuff,” Grams said. “I just wanted to keep calm and wrestle how I wrestle.”
Trailing by two points, the Blue Devils needed at least a decision win from Grams, who was meeting River Valley freshman Cayden Robson for the first time in the 145-pound match at the WIAA Division 2 team wrestling sectional at Edgerton High School.
Grams came through with an 8-1 triumph and lifted Lodi to a 33-32 victory. The Blue Devils, ranked fifth in Division 2 in this week’s WiWrestling.com state poll, advanced to the WIAA state team tournament and prevented River Valley from a return trip. Lodi will meet Ellsworth in a Division 2 semifinal on March 4 at the University of Wisconsin Field House.
“Hunter did what he does well,” Lodi coach Chris Persike said. “He wrestled really smart. He was calm and cool. But it’s everybody. That is why it is a team tournament. It’s all 14. And we had to use quite a few guys to make it work.”
After the opening weight was announced at 152 pounds, Persike altered his lineup and it paid off when River Valley didn’t gain bonus points at a couple weight divisions.
“We didn’t win the flip, so we had to make some adjustments,” Persike said. “We put three people in the lineup who don’t very often see the varsity mat. All 14 just battled. It took all 14 here. It took everything that they had and they did it. River Valley is a tough team.”
Said River Valley co-coach Curtis Fiedler: “I knew it would be a really good dual, and I thought we’d have to pull one rabbit out of our hat. They made some interesting moves that worked out big time.”
The Blackhawks opened a 14-0 lead behind a 12-0 victory from Gavin Wipperfurth at 152, a pin from Shane Liegel at 160 and a 13-4 win by Elijah Alt at 170.
But the Blue Devils came back for a 17-14 lead behind Jacob Heyroth at 182, Casey Persike at 195 and J.P. Walterscheit at 220 — with each wrestling up one weight class. Senior Tennessee Hatfield gave River Valley an 18-17 lead with a 27-14 major decision over Gabe Mabin at 285.
Jaedon Heintz’s pin at 106 and Garrett Moll’s 20-7 victory at 113 pushed the Blue Devils’ advantage to 27-18. But River Valley 120-pounder Caleb Radtke (decision), 126-pounder Dustin Hatfield (pin) and 132-pounder Zach Licht (five-point technical fall) scored victories that rallied the Blackhawks into a 32-27 advantage. Branden Errthum’s 6-2 decision wrestling up at 138 gave Lodi three points, setting the stage for Grams.
“It was a good move for them (changing their lineup); it worked out for them,” River Valley co-coach Pat Mahoney said. “If we wrestled Lodi 10 times, it might go 5-5.”
River Valley 44, Viroqua 24
In a semifinal match between Blackhawks, River Valley won the final four matches over seventh-ranked Viroqua to pull away from a 24-all deadlock.
Radtke claimed a 9-1 major decision over Casey Leer at 120 pounds before the undefeated Hatfield pinned Lucas Oldham in 46 seconds at 126, boosting River Valley’s lead to 34-24.
Licht picked up a 13-2 major decision at 132 and Robson won by pin at 138.
Lodi 45, Evansville/Albany 33
In a semifinal match between Blue Devils, Lodi overcame a 24-21 deficit for the win.
After a forfeit win at 106, Moll pinned Zachary Lipke in 48 seconds at 113 and Colton Nicolay pinned Adam Staver in 19 seconds at 120.