To be a state champion, a wrestler has to first qualify for the state tournament.
This year, 49 central Wisconsin wrestlers have qualified for the WIAA individual state tournament which begins today at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Here are some things to keep in mind at the tournament or following along online.
Sweet repeat: Merrill senior Tyler Schmidt and Edgar junior Devin Lemanski are returning to the Kohl Center with the goal of repeating as champions. Schmidt was the undefeated Division 1 champion — pinning his way to the finals — at 220 pounds, while Lemanski claimed the D3 title at 126 pounds. Schmidt is back in the 220-pound field, boasting a 46-1 record and is the No. 1 Division 1 wrestler at his weight according to wiwrestling.com. His preliminary opponent is Holmen senior Charles Serauskas (23-8). He could face Wisconsin Rapids junior Beau Thompson, who is the No. 4 wrestler at the weight, in a quarterfinal match. Senior Dallas Wanta of West Allis Hale (44-0) is ranked No. 2 behind Schmidt and is likely his semifinal opponent. Lemanski (36-1) is No. 1 at 145 in Division 3 and has a bye in the first round of the tournament. His quarterfinal opponent is the winner between Cumberland’s Trystain Adams (33-8, Soph.) and Boone Young (38-5, Jr.) of Mishicot. Jared Roen of Riverdale (42-3, Jr.) is the likely semifinal opponent for Lemanski.
More No. 1s: In addition to the area’s returning champs, SPASH sophomore Fritz Schierl (138), Wausau West senior Travis Hettinga (160) in Division 1 and Stratford senior Dondrick Tackes (195) are the top-ranked wrestlers in their respective weight classes and divisions. Schierl (45-2) has won nearly every tournament he has entered, including the On the Water Classic, Wisconsin Valley Conference, regional and sectional tournaments. No. 5 Zac Youngchild of Manitowoc is his projected quarterfinal matchup, while No. 2 Chad Osmanski of Bay Port is on the other side of the bracket. Hettinga’s biggest competition the past month has been WVC rival Mason Reinhardt of Merrill, who is No. 2. The two have battled four times — splitting the matches — and are on opposite sides of the tournament bracket. Jordan Gundrum of West Bend West and Brandon Sprecher of Sauk Prairie, the No. 3- and 4-ranked wrestlers, are on Reinhardt’s side of the bracket. Tackes (32-1) was fifth at the same weight last year and is likely to face Kewaunee senior David Steinhorst (39-2) in the quarterfinals.
Key matches: At 182 pounds, Merrill’s Ben Hintze (40-5) and Wisconsin Rapids’ Cody Abel (40-6) could meet in the Division 1 quarterfinals. The two Wisconsin Valley Conference rivals have split matches this season, Abel winning by pin in the dual meet and Hintze winning a 5-4 decision in the Valley tournament. Stratford’s Anthony Gliniecki, ranked sixth at 113, will take on No. 8 Alec Potter of Laconia in the D3 quarterfinals with a win in the preliminary round. Auburndale junior Wyatt Weiler, ranked fifth, qualified last year and is in a difficult side of the D3 152-pound bracket. Should he get by Boyceville’s Jon Harnish, he will meet No. 6 Cole Fritsch of New Holstein in the quarters. A victory there would pit him against No. 1 Cullen Pedersen of New Lisbon in the semifinals.
All by himself: Pacelli junior Jack Lawlis (27-13) is the only Cardinal on the co-op Almond-Bancroft/Pacelli team. Every day he travels 30 minutes to practice with the A-B squad. He takes on Belmont/Platteville senior Lucas Stoney (25-12) in a Division 2 preliminary match. Four other wrestlers are the lone representative from their schools. In Division 2, Trenton McManus, sixth at 106 last year, is the only Adams-Friendship entry and Sage Soppa is Abbotsford/Colby’s representative. Athens’ Trevor Kottke and Spencer’s Trevor Ackerman are also the sole wrestlers for their teams.
By the numbers: Merrill, along with Kaukauna and Menomonee Falls all have seven wrestlers in the D1 competition, while Bay Port and Cedarburg boast eight each. Wisconsin Rapids qualified four wrestlers, doubling their number from a year ago. Wittenberg-Birnamwood had five wrestlers in the D2 tournament, the most of any local team, while Nekoosa/Port Edwards and Neillsville/Greenwood/Loyal have three each. Ellsworth qualified 12 wrestlers, the most of any team in the tournament. Stratford qualified six wrestlers, tied for third along with Lancaster and Boyceville. Random Lake leads D3 with nine entries. There are 19 former champions in the tournament field, including 17 seeking to defend titles they won last year.