MADISON – One point.
That’s how close the Luxemburg-Casco wrestling team was to adding another WIAA state championship to its collection.
The Spartans’ 12th state title proved to be just out of reach on Saturday at the UW Field House as they fell 27-26 in the Division 2 state championship to Ellsworth, which won its second straight title and third in four years.
The squads split the match count at 7-7, but the Panthers gained the advantage by producing bonus points in four matches to L-C’s three.
“One point,” L-C coach Chas Treml said. “That’s going to burn for a while. I know we have a group of kids that are hurting right now because we didn’t win this. We really thought we could do it. We were right there with that one point.”
Ellsworth picked up the decisive points with a 7-0 decision victory by freshman Charlie Stuhl over freshman Lucas Joniaux in the final match at 106 pounds. Stuhl was an individual state runner-up at the weight class this year.
The Spartans put themselves in position to at least have a chance to win the dual in the final match thanks to three straight decision victories by senior Kyle Routhieaux (195 pounds), junior Nate Lloyd (220) and senior Phil Rasmussen (285).
Routhieaux pulled away from a 4-4 tie to win a 9-4 decision over Ellsworth senior Cole Toenjes in what was arguably the most emotional match of the Spartans’ season.
It was Routhieaux’s first match of the year after missing the duration of it with a knee injury sustained in football.
“It was one of the biggest opportunities I’ve ever had in my life,” Routhieaux said. “I knew whatever outcome came out I was going to be happy.”
L-C got some strong performances from its lower weights as well early in the dual. Freshman Reece Worachek got a late escape to save a bonus point in an 11-4 decision loss to Ellsworth senior Sawyer Strom.
Meanwhile, sophomore Colton Worachek gave up only a major decision to Ellsworth junior Sam Stuhl, who is a three-time individual state champion.
“That was absolutely huge,” Treml said.
“There were definitely some nerves. None of these guys have been here. They don’t know the routine. But they put it all out there knowing what they are capable of and tried to do it. Each one of those guys did their job today. That’s all you can ask. They gave us all six minutes.”
L-C senior Dalton Smerchek gave a little less than six minutes in his final high school match, recording a second-period pin at 170 pounds over Ellsworth junior Dalton George.
“It was amazing,” Smerchek said. “They told me I needed to get six. I got six and was overwhelmed. I did it for the team. I did it for the crowd.”
In the 36-24 state semifinal win over Lomira, Smerchek got a takedown in the closing seconds to turn a decision into a major decision at 170 and clinch the dual for the Spartans, who were making their first state appearance since winning their 11th title in 2013.
L-C won six straight matches to take a commanding lead against Lomira, getting pins from sophomore Bryce Bosman (113) and Colton Worachek (132).
Bosman, Smerchek, Rasmussen and sophomore Nathan Ronsman (126) were the four L-C wrestlers who won both of their matches on Saturday in the semifinals and finals.
Although the Spartans fell just short of a state championship this year, the program appears to be in good hands for years to come.
They had three seniors in the lineup on Saturday and will return seven individual state qualifiers, including five state medalists.
“They have a lot of talent coming back,” said Smerchek, an individual state runner-up this year. “They just have to keep working hard. I know they will. I know they are going to do it again next year and come out and get it.”
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Ellsworth 27, Luxemburg-Casco 26
106: Charlie Stuhl, EL, dec. Lucas Joniaux, 7-0; 113: Bryce Bosman, L-C, maj. dec. Matthew Peterson, 9-0; 120: Sawyer Strom, EL, dec. Reece Worachek, 11-4; 126: Nathan Ronsman, L-C, dec. Owen Matzek, 6-2; 132: Sam Stuhl, EL, maj. dec. Colton Worachek, 14-3; 138: Jared Lansing, EL, dec. Cameron Lemmens, 6-5; 145: Cole Skelton, EL, maj. dec. Garrett Jeanquart, 12-4; 152: Devan VandenBush, L-C, maj. dec. Logan Melstrom, 9-0; 160: Anders Lantz, EL, maj. dec. Jacob Zellner, 13-4; 170: Dalton Smerchek, L-C, pin Dalton George, 3:25; 182: Jacob Sigler, EL, pin Austin LeRoy, 1:52; 195: Kyle Routhieaux, L-C, dec. Cole Toenjes, 9-4; 220: Nate Lloyd, L-C, dec. Caleb Linder, 3-1 (SV); 285: Phil Rasmussen, L-C, dec. Mike Freund, 6-3. Matches started at 113.
Luxemburg-Casco 36, Lomira 24
106: Tyler Garriety, LOM, pin Lucas Joniaux, 2:33; 113: Bryce Bosman, L-C, pin Alex Gundrum, 2:36; 120: Reece Worachek, L-C, dec. Noah Danner, 7-2; 126: Nathan Ronsman, L-C, tech. fall Jon Stucke, 15-0; 132: Colton Worachek, L-C, pin Costa Calarco, 1:02; 138: Cameron Lemmens, L-C vs. Ryan Riedel, 8-4; 145: Garrett Jeanquart, L-C, vs. Colin Saegert, 7-3; 152: Chase Parr, LOM, dec. Devan VandenBush, 7-4; 160: Jacob Zellner, L-C, dec. Nate Thomas, 6-5; 170: Dalton Smerchek, L-C, maj. dec. Matt Hanke, 10-2; 182: Sage Pastorius, LOM, pin Austin LeRoy, 1:00; 195: Collin Feucht, LOM, won by forfeit; 220: Allan Klink, LOM dec. Nate Lloyd, 6-4; 285: Phil Rasmussen, L-C, dec. Adam Kinyon, 9-4. Matches started at 106.