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By Paul Lecker
LA CROSSE – The Stratford wrestling team won three individual titles and had two other top-three finishes to roll to its fifth-straight Division 3 title at the Bi-State Wrestling Classic on Dec. 29-30 at the La Crosse Center.
Manny Drexler (106 pounds), Jake Drexler (145) and Aiden Hoffman (195) won individual titles for Stratford. A.J. Schoenfuss finished second at 126 pounds and Dylan Schoenherr was third at 220 as the Tigers racked up a whopping 319.5 points to beat second-place Goodhue (Minn.) by 148 points in the Division 3 standings.
Auburndale finished ninth in D-3 with 69 points.
Marshfield was second in Division 1 with 229 points, trailing only Holmen (342), and Spencer/Columbus Catholic also earned a runner-up spot by taking second in Division 2 with 199 points as Luxemburg-Casco won the team title with 263 points.
Drexler beat Lucas Joniaux of Luxemburg-Casco 5-1, Drexler topped Teagan Miller of Mauston in overtime 5-3, and Hoffman edged Riverdale’s Caleb Johnson 3-2 to claim titles for Stratford.
Spencer/Columbus senior Hunter Luepke (24-0), a defending WIAA Division 2 state champion, continued his torrid streak this season by pinning undefeated Drew Hennessey of Iowa-Grant/Highland in 1:39 to win the 220-pound title. Luepke pinned all six of his opponents in a total time of 13:29 at the two-day tournament, earning an award for Most Pins in Shortest Amount of Time.
The Rockets also got a second-place finish from junior Logan Zschernitz (23-1), who was pinned in the 285-pound championship match by Cole Godbout of Hudson in 1:10.
“As a whole we wrestled very well at one of the best tournaments in the state,” Spencer/Columbus coach Jake Zschernitz said. “Hunter dominated the competition. Logan wrestled very well, but fell a little short of where he wanted to be. Ash, Dom, and Bryce all had really good tournaments and a bunch of the other guys picked up much needed team points. I’m extremely proud of the guys’ effort this weekend and it definitely showed in the team scores. We held our own and beat some of the top teams in our division.”
Marshfield had three third-place finishers.
Freshman Gabe Pugh took third at 113 pounds, beating Carter Jonsgaard of Lewiston-Altura/Rushford-Peterson (Minn.) 3-0; Bentley Schwanebeck-Ostermann defeated Kaleb O’Reilly of Goodhue 6-3 at 170; and Sam Mitchell beat Noah Friedl of Royall in an ultimate tiebreaker at 220 to all finish third for the Tigers.
“All wrestlers that competed scored points for the Tigers, and made big improvements throughout the tournament,” Marshfield coach Jackson Hein said. “Getting the opportunity to wrestle some of the best teams in the state of Wisconsin and Minnesota served as solid measurement for where we stand as a team and at each individual weight class. The second day of the tournament is a true test for each competitor. That is when hard work, dedication, and heart takes over to help win big matches. To have three guys win in that last round to take home third place at their weight classes was huge.”
Auburndale’s only wrestler to finish in the top 12 in their respective weight class was Keller Wolfe, who took sixth at 170 pounds after losing a fifth-place match to Tyler Hannah of Viroqua 3-1.
Other local wrestlers to place in the top 12 were: Spencer/Columbus Ashton Ackman (sixth, 106), Dominick Wichlacz (eighth, 120) and Bryce Shaw (eighth, 145); Stratford’s Derek Marten (sixth, 132), Jordan Becker (sixth, 152) and Max Schwabe (eighth, 138); and Marshfield’s Tanner Kanable (sixth, 126), Nolan Hertel (sixth, 145), Caden Pearce (seventh, 138) and Alex Brost (eighth, 220).
Peace pinned Schwabe in 2:59 of the seventh-place match at 138.