Tyler Dow knew how much a victory might mean for his teammates.
The final Stoughton athlete to wrestle Saturday evening at the Kohl Center, the junior had already seen three teammates fall short in their quests for WIAA Division 1 state individual championships. So when his turn came, Dow knew what a victory would mean for team morale.
“A big part of me is, I like (to) help the team out,” Dow said. “Making everybody better, not just myself. When people need me, they can come to me and count on me.”
The University of Wisconsin recruit came through for Stoughton and for himself with a 4-0 decision over Hortonville’s Elliott Luker in the 160-pound championship match, claiming the Vikings’ second title of the day and putting the finishing touches on a yearlong bid for personal redemption.
“I felt like, last year, I was ready for the state title — ready to become the champion of Wisconsin,” Dow said. “That didn’t happen, so I’ve been focused on that and letting that drive me to see what I can become and the wrestler I can be.”
The early weight classes were largely disappointing for Stoughton. Hunter Lewis (106 pounds), Tristan Jenny (120) and UW recruit Garrett Model (145) all had to settle for runner-up finishes.
Brandon Klein provided the lone bright spot with his second state title, winning the 132-pound championship with a 6-0 victory over Oak Creek’s Veliko Kochiu. Klein’s first title came at 106 pounds in 2015.
Dow’s victory signaled the beginning of the next phase of the season for Stoughton, which will face Waterford in the state team quarterfinals on Friday at the UW Field House.
“The people who didn’t make it here, they’ve been focusing on team more,” Dow said. “They’re getting themselves ready for what is their state and what will be their state title.”
In other action, Sun Prairie’s Drew Scharenbrock capitalized on an early takedown and defeated Middleton’s Kevin Meicher 4-0 in an all-Big Eight Conference final at 138 pounds. Scharenbrock won all three of his matches against Meicher this season.
“I think it’s just bringing more attention to us,” Scharenbrock said of the Big Eight. “Maybe we’re not going to be such a looked-down-upon conference anymore. Maybe we can step up a little bit.”
Meanwhile, Milton’s Dalton Shea joined cousins Nolan and Landon as a state champion, holding down Stevens Point’s Brady Koontz in an ultimate tiebreaker at 113 pounds.
“It feels amazing,” Shea said. “To be on top with my two cousins and many other Milton wrestlers, it’s a lifetime dream come true. That’s for sure.”
With the match in the balance, Shea said Milton coach Pat Jauch’s message to him in the final seconds was simple.
“Within the last 15 seconds, my coach was saying to me, ‘You are enough.’ That’s all that was running through my head, and that’s what won it for me.”
In the area’s other marquee matchup, DeForest senior and UW recruit Jackson Hemauer beat Milton’s Billy Pitzner for the third time this season en route to the 182-pound championship.
“There’s a lot of guys that can be state champs, whether it be on calls or chance or certain guys were (seeded) where,” said Hemauer, who won the 160-pound title a year ago. “When you get two, that’s a stand. It feels pretty good.”