Jackson Hemauer is set to spend the next half-decade wrestling in front of a friendly Madison crowd.
But for one Friday night at least, the DeForest senior was OK playing the villain.
Hemauer registered a controversial 3-2 victory over Waterford junior Jared Krattiger at 182 pounds, punching a ticket to the WIAA Division 1 state finals amid a chorus of boos at the Kohl Center.
“Wrestling is wrestling,” Hemauer said. “I didn’t think it was a bad call.”
The call in question — a late stall on Krattiger — was followed almost immediately by a Hemauer escape, giving the University of Wisconsin recruit a one-point lead with just 10 seconds left in the match.
“It’s an arena packed with wrestling fans,” Hemauer said. “They want to see action. They don’t want to see something come down to a call like that, and neither do I, but that’s what the ref called.”
Just the same, Hemauer could resist an opportunity to acknowledge the crowd – with a quick flex.
“I’ve always got to show my fans a little flex,” he said.
Hemauer’s victory sets up a rematch with Milton’s Billy Pitzner for the 182-pound championship. Both state champs a year ago, Hemauer at 160 and Pitzner at 170, the two are set to meet for the fourth time this season. Hemauer, who won their matchup at sectionals via a 4-0 decision and holds a 2-1 advantage in the season series, is confident he can come out on top again.
“I know that there’s nothing in his power or his game plan that’s going to defeat me if I’m wrestling how I should and wrestling where I’m executing in every position,” Hemauer said of Pitzner. “So, clear mind going into the match, and things are going to go my way.”
Hemauer might have provided late fireworks Friday night, but the rest of the action belonged to Stoughton. Hunter Lewis (106 pounds), Tristan Jenny (120), Brandon Klein (132), Garrett Model (145) and Tyler Dow (160) all advanced to championship matches, giving the Vikings a chance to pass Mineral Point for the most individual champions in WIAA history.
“Tonight, in the semis, we showed what Stoughton is all about,” said Dow, a UW recruit. “That’s kind of what we had in mind today. We didn’t really have anything else.
“We take every match almost like it’s a state-finals match here.”
In other action involving area athletes, Milton’s Dalton Shea advanced to the 113-pound final; Reedsburg’s Dalton Hahn pinned Milton’s Jerry Lipke to earn a spot in the 195-pound championship; and Middleton’s Kevin Meicher and Sun Prairie’s Drew Scharenbrock each earned decisions in the 138-pound semifinals, ensuring this year’s state titlist will come out of the Big Eight Conference.
Combined, the Big Eight and Badger Conference compiled an 11-3 semifinal record, with two of those loses coming via head-to-head scenarios.
“It’s a lot of good things for our conference,” Scharenbrock said. “It shows that we’re moving up in the ranks and doing well.”