Stoughton wrestling co-coaches Dan Spilde and Bob Empey know the program’s history well.
“We’re just blessed to work with great athletes and great families,” Spilde said. “We’re part of a legacy. We can’t do anything except try to keep it rolling and the kids come here and just keep getting it done.”
That tradition continued in the WIAA Division 1 individual state tournament Saturday at the Kohl Center as Hunter Lewis used a third-period escape to edge Arrowhead’s Dominic Dentino 1-0 in the 120-pound final to earn his first state crown.
“It feels great to be the 49th (Stoughton) state champion here,” said Lewis, who finished the season with a 50-4 record. “It’s such a great practice room, the best in Wisconsin. They have such a deep foundation (in Stoughton). I moved here in sixth grade (from Jefferson) and I definitely got hooked on it.
“They’ve created quite a family here.”
Lewis, a state runner-up last season, said a technical adjustment netted him the escape.
“He (Dentino) was starting a little quick on the whistle and grabbing my ankle, so I talked to Empey and changed what I did so he couldn’t capture the ankle,” Lewis said.
Lewis’ title left Stoughton one behind Mineral Point for the all-time state lead in individual champions. Stoughton wrestlers fell in two other state finals.
Reedsburg’s Mason McMillen (48-3) denied the Vikings their 50th state title in dramatic fashion by rallying from an 8-3 deficit to pin Braeden Whitehead (27-2) in 4:14 in the 126-pound title match.
Whitehead used an impressive second period to take an 8-3 lead, but things changed quickly in the third.
“I knew I had to get five (points) to get back into the match,” said McMillen. “He came in with a shot and got in deep, but he got his hips in too far and we got into a scramble and I was able to flip him.”
McMillen jumped into the arms of his coach Rob Bautch and hugged his mother. He had beaten Whitehead 5-1 in the conference finals three weeks ago.
“This feels great,” he said. “The first match (conference finals) was a lot more controlled. Here at state, the energy’s amped up and everyone was flying around.”
With the title, McMillen matches his father Tim, who won the state crown at 126 for Reedsburg in 1985.
Later in the evening, defending 152-pound state champion Peyton Mocco of West Allis Hale (54-1) overpowered Stoughton’s returning 160-pound champ Tyler Dow (52-2) 11-2 in the 160 final. Dow had edged Mocco in a tournament earlier this year.
Also defending his title was Sun Prairie’s Drew Scharenbrock, who had to go to overtime to edge Max Bruss of DePere (43-5) 8-6 in the 145-pound final. It was the second state title in as many years for the University of Wisconsin recruit, who won all 51 of his matches this season.
Both Scharenbrock and his brother Jared have two state titles apiece, but Jared still owns the school career wins record 192 to 191.
“When I got to the overtime, I didn’t try to think too hard,” Drew Scharenbrock said. “I just trusted what I’ve done over the last 14 years of wrestling. Just do my best.”
The strong run through state for Janesville Craig 285-pounder Keeanu Benton (46-2) came to an end when defending state champion Keaton Kluever (48-2) pinned him in 1:43 in the final.
Also on Saturday, Sauk Prairie’s Zeke Smith (50-3) took fourth at 113 and Middleton’s Kevin Meicher (46-2) was fourth at 152.
Taking fifth place were Jessie Tijerina (42-13) of Portage at 120; Nick Logan (43-8) of Watertown at 138; Stephen Maule (34-3) of Watertown at 195; Reed Ryan (31-6) of Waunakee at 220; and Aodan Marshall (38-8) of Stoughton at 285.
Area sixth-place finishers were Sam Lorenz (46-7) of Waunakee at 106; Mason Dutcher (41-12) of Milton at 113; Edward Wilkowski (39-7) of Watertown at 120; Nate Ellis (44-11) of Janesville Craig at 132; Bryant Schaaf (27-12) of Sauk Prairie at 152; and Brooks Empey (31-22) of Stoughton at 182.