Action begins Thursday afternoon at Kohl Center in Madison
By Paul Lecker
MADISON — A total of 16 local wrestlers will hit the mats this week at the 2017 WIAA State Individual Wrestling Tournament at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Wrestling begins with preliminary matches in all three divisions and Division 1 quarterfinals on Thursday. Division 2 and 3 quarterfinals, consolation matches, and semifinals in all three divisions are set for Friday. The finals are scheduled for Saturday at 5 p.m.
A pair of sophomores qualified for Marshfield and will face tough opponents in the Division 1 prelims on Thursday afternoon.
Nolan Hertel is making a return trip to Madison after going 0-2 last year as a freshman. Hertel (32-9) will face Joshua Otto (35-4) of Hartland Arrowhead in a first-round match at 145 pounds.
Sam Mitchell (25-14) will face Connor Williams (44-1) of La Crosse Central in a 170-pound match for the Tigers.
“At this point in the season, it’s about doing all the little things right,” Marshfield coach Jackson Hein said. “It comes down to making the time worth it and believing in our training. Attitude is everything.”
In Division 2, Spencer/Columbus Catholic has three wrestlers that will compete at the state meet, including three-time qualifier Hunter Luepke.
Luepke, a junior, did not place as a freshman but earned a fifth-place medal at 182 pounds last year. As a sectional champion, Luepke (36-2) has a first-round bye and will take on the winner of Hayden Arneson (31-6) of Monroe and Matt Buechel (30-7) of New Holstein in a 195-pound quarterfinal early Friday afternoon.
Rockets making their first state appearances will be sophomore Logan Zschernitz at 285 pounds and freshman Ashton Ackman at 106.
Zschernitz (37-3), also a sectional champ, will face the winner of Josh Frerk (34-4) of Denmark and Tennesse Hatfield (29-14) of River Valley in a 285-pound quarterfinal Friday afternoon.
“Hunter and Logan are both wrestling on another level right now,” Spencer/Columbus coach Jake Zschernitz said. “Hunter has been dominant all year long, but he is continuing to get better every match. The same for Logan. He’s the most athletic 285 I’ve seen and improves daily as the season has progressed. They both push each other in practice and have the same goal in mind: They expect to be state champions.”
Ackman (35-7) will face Quintin Gehrmann (33-5) of Jefferson in a 106-pound prelim late Thursday afternoon.
“All three wrestlers are really peaking at the right time,” Jake Zschernitz said. “Ashton has a little bit tougher road coming into state as a (second-place finisher). He’s been doing a very good job staying on the offense and scoring points. At sectionals he tech-falled three of his opponents. We think he can continue that production going forward.”
For the second year in a row, Stratford will have 11 of its 14 wrestlers in the Division 3 state field, four of whom are returning state champions.
Senior Kamren Bornbach (220 pounds) and juniors A.J. Schoenfuss (120) and Jeremy Schoenherr (138) are shooting for their third-straight state titles. Senior Tyson Kauffman (285) is back to defend his title won last year.
Junior Mason Kauffman, a champion two years ago, was forced to medical forfeit the 152-pound championship last year after suffering a heart ailment that was diagnosed after a semifinal victory. Because it was a medical forfeit, it did not count as a loss on his career record, and he will take a perfect 128-0 mark (29-0 this year) into a 152-pound quarterfinal on Friday.
Jake Drexler (132), Derek Marten (126), and David Marquardt (160) are also back at state for the Tigers. Drexler took fifth at 113 and Marquardt sixth at 145 to earn medals last year.
Manny Drexler (106), Kade Ehrike (170), and Aiden Hoffman (195) will be making their first state appearances.
Ehrike, Hoffman, and Tyson Kauffman wrestle in preliminary matches Thursday. The other eight are sectional champions and earned byes into the quarterfinals on Friday afternoon.
“Getting 11 kids to qualify for state again this year is very exciting,” Stratford coach Joe Schwabe said. “We lost a couple kids at regionals, so I didn’t know if this was going to happen. However, the kids wrestled very physical and aggressive all day and won some key matches early to advance 10 into the finals with another coming ‘back door.’ This group kind of feeds off of each other. They are definitely believing in the team philosophy and pick each other up and keep each other motivated.
“This is a very positive group that is wrestling with a lot of confidence right now. I want them all to believe they can win, wrestle to win, and then go win.”
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)
2017 WIAA State Individual Wrestling Tournament
Feb. 23-25, Kohl Center, Madison
Thursday, Feb. 23
Division 1 preliminaries, 3 p.m.
Division 1 quarterfinals, approximately 5:15 p.m.
Division 2 & 3 preliminaries, 7 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 24
Division 1 consolations, 10 a.m.
Division 2 & 3 quarterfinals, 11:15 a.m.
Division 1 consolation semifinals, 1:45 p.m.
Division 2 & 3 consolation semifinals, 2:45 p.m.
Division 1, 2 & 3 semifinals, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 25
Division 1, 2 & 3 consolation wrestlebacks, 10 a.m.
Division 1, 2 & 3 fifth-place and third-place matches, 11 a.m.
Division 1, 2 & 3 championship matches, 5 p.m.
Division 1 preliminaries, Thursday, 3 p.m.
145: Nolan Hertel (32-9), Marshfield, vs. Joshua Otto (35-4), Hartland Arrowhead.
170: Sam Mitchell (25-14), Marshfield, vs. Connor Williams (44-1), La Crosse Central.
Division 2 preliminaries, Thursday, 7 p.m.
106: Ashton Ackman (35-7), Spencer/Columbus, vs. Quintin Gehrmann (33-5), Jefferson.
Division 3 preliminaries, Thursday, 7 p.m.
170: Kade Ehrike (23-6), Stratford, vs. Daniel Kocourek (40-5), Reedsville.
195: Aiden Hoffman (34-9), Stratford, vs. Reed Guenther (31-10), Blair-Taylor.
285: Tyson Kauffman (12-5), Stratford, vs. Brandon Klimek (35-6), Crandon.
Division 2 quarterfinals, Friday, 11:15 a.m.
195: Hunter Luepke (36-2), Spencer/Columbus, vs. winner of Hayden Arneson (31-6), Monroe, and Matt Buechel (30-7), New Holstein.
285: Logan Zschernitz (37-3), Spencer/Columbus, vs. winner of Josh Frerk (34-4), Denmark, and Tennessee Hatfield (29-14), River Valley.
Division 3 quarterfinals, Friday, 11:15 a.m.
106: Manny Drexler (39-3), Stratford, vs. winner of Danny Pritz (30-3), Mineral Point, and Logan Steglich (37-6), Cumberland.
120: A.J. Schoenfuss (32-5), Stratford, vs. winner of Caden Calabrese (39-7), Kenosha Christian Life, and Jacob Rogers (32-6), New Lisbon.
126: Derek Marten (36-4), Stratford, vs. winner of Brian Matthews (34-12), Riverdale, and Max Dascher (32-3), Cochrane-Fountain City.
132: Jake Drexler (40-2), Stratford, vs. winner of Seth Schlegel (39-2), Spring Valley/Elmwood, and Jacob Luckow (30-17), Mishicot.
138: Jeremy Schoenherr (14-0), Stratford, vs. winner of Weston Wichman (39-5), Johnson Creek, and Collin Lull (28-17), Lancaster.
152: Mason Kauffman (29-0), Stratford, vs. winner of Josh Conrad (29-5), Independence/Gilmanton, and Levi Kohn (39-9), Random Lake.
160: David Marquardt (35-4), Stratford, vs. winner of Zach Coffeen (45-4), Laconia, and Gavon Brown (19-15), Parkview.
220: Kamren Bornbach (36-1), Stratford, vs. winner of Cody McCollough (42-5), Fennimore, and Austin Knoops (15-3), Whitehall.