The matchup everyone wanted at 160 pounds is set in the WIAA Division 1 individual state wrestling tournament. But it was the furthest thing from the mind of Stoughton’s Tyler Dow.
Dow (52-1) overpowered Holmen’s Reed Williams 9-3 in a semifinal Friday night at the Kohl Center. The defending state champ at that weight next faces West Allis Hale’s Peyton Mocco (53-1), the defending state champ at 152 pounds, in what will likely be the most highly anticipated final tonight.
“To be perfectly honest, I haven’t thought about it much until now,” he said. “My coaches and father have encouraged me to stay focused on one match at a time, keeping things right in front of you. You can’t focus on things like that too much, because you can’t predict the future.”
Dow will be joined in tonight’s finals by teammates Hunter Lewis (49-4) at 120 pounds and Braeden Whitehead (27-1) at 126.
Also representing the area in the Division 1 finals will be defending champ Drew Scharenbrock (50-0) of Sun Prairie at 145 and Reedsburg’s Mason McMillen (47-3) at 126.
Janesville Craig’s second-ranked 285-pounder, Keeanu Benton (46-1), also earned a berth in the finals.
Dow, Lewis and Whitehead now will try to add to the Vikings’ impressive total of 48 individual state champions.
“I’m feeling good,” said Dow, who was in control the entire match against Williams. “I’m excited about this. Ready to go.”
Lewis was equally impressive, downing Hartford’s Jalen Spuhler 14-2.
“I’m going to work on keeping my composure and staying focused,” said Lewis, the state runner-up at 106 last year. “I’m excited, I’m confident. I’m ready to go out there and get that gold (medal). That’s the goal.”
Whitehead also was thoroughly in control the whole way in his 11-1 victory over Homestead’s Cooper Hunt. Whitehead has battled knee injuries the past few years, but looked strong in earning his finals slot against McMillen, who posted an 8-1 decision over Chance Bailey of Stevens Point in his semifinal.
Scharenbrock is looking to become Sun Prairie’s sixth state champion after defeating Rhinelander’s Jacob DeMeyer, 5-1. Scharenbrock took control with an escape and a takedown in the second period.
“It’s a pretty great feeling, kind of hard to explain,” the state’s defending 138-pound champion said. “I have one more match. I’ll weigh in Saturday, relax and try to keep my mind off of it until I absolutely have to.”
Benton has been dominant the entire tournament, recording two first-round pins on Thursday before overpowering River Falls’ Mitchell Williamson of River Falls 9-4 in the semifinals.
In the final, he will get defending champ Keaton Kluever (47-2) of Kaukauna.
In one of the most highly anticipated matches of the night, Middleton 152-pounder Kevin Meicher (45-1) lost 5-3 to Kaukauna’s Zach Lee (48-2).
In a battle of leverage and positioning, Meicher couldn’t quite get on top of Lee, who took a 5-0 lead and held on to win.
Also falling in Division 1 semifinals were Sam Lorenz of Waunakee at 106, Mason Dutcher of Milton at 113, Nate Ellis of Janesville Craig at 132 and Brooks Empey of Stoughton at 182.