It isn’t completely official quite yet, but Wisconsin Dells looks well on its way to its first conference title in 32 years.
The Chiefs bested Mauston 48-27 in each team’s final dual meet of the regular season Tuesday, Jan. 30 at Mauston High School. With the win, Wisconsin Dells improved to 5-0 in South Central Conference dual meets on the season, while the Golden Eagles dropped to 3-2.
Had Mauston beaten the Chiefs in Tuesday’s meeting, there would’ve been a three-way tie atop the conference standings between the Golden Eagles, Wisconsin Dells and Wautoma/Wild Rose, with the upcoming conference meet serving as the tiebreaker to determine this year’s South Central Conference champion.
Instead, the Chiefs enter the conference meet, to be held Friday, Feb. 2 at 4:00 p.m. at Adams-Friendship High School, in prime position to capture the SCC crown. Barring a catastrophic team performance at Friday’s meet, Wisconsin Dells will win its first conference championship in wrestling since 1986.
“These kids have worked very, very hard and certainly earned it,” Wisconsin Dells head coach Jim McFaul said. “We’ve been just getting better as the season went on. A little bit of a slow start, we thought, but when I look back, we faced some very, very good teams and I think, in the long run, it’s paying dividends down the road.”
“Our kids are getting healthier. Everybody’s dealing with the flu and everything else in the schools, so it’s no different from the rest of the schools. But I think when we’re full speed and ready to go, we’re a pretty good team.”
The meet kicked off with the 113 match between Wisconsin Dells freshman Will Van Dinter and Mauston freshman Tanner Wheeler. Van Dinter pinned Wheeler at 5:13 to give the Chiefs six early points. In the 120 match, Wisconsin Dells sophomore Elizah Leonard outlasted Mauston freshman Aydin Schroeder to win by a 4-1 decision.
In the 126 match, Mauston freshman Anthony Thayer got the Golden Eagles on the board when he pinned Wisconsin Dells sophomore Jordon Kosterman at 3:23. The Chiefs responded in the 132 match when senior Gabe Kingsley scored a pinfall victory over Mauston freshman Hayden Goodman at 3:10. Wisconsin Dells pushed its lead to 21-6 following sophomore Marty Koenig’s pinfall victory over Mauston junior Austin Werner at 4:47 in the 138 match.
The Golden Eagles would finally go on a little run of their own to eventually tie the match at 21-21.
In the 145 match, Mauston junior Josiah Ziebell pinned Wisconsin Dells freshman Jade Herzer in the second round at the 3:20 mark. Senior Teagen Miller nearly gave the Golden Eagles another pinfall win in the 152 match against Wisconsin Dells sophomore Billy Dethloff, but had to settle for a 19-3 technical fall victory. In the 160 match, Mauston senior Jarrett Dolata defeated Wisconsin Dells senior Sebastian Kontaxis in a 16-3 major decision.
But following the Golden Eagles’ stretch of 15 team points in three matches, the Chiefs would regain control of the meet for good.
In the 170 match, Wisconsin Dells junior Hunter Stenson topped Mauston junior Rayn Vang in the third round in an 18-0 technical fall. Wisconsin Dells senior Travis Hudack followed that up in the 182 match with a pinfall victory over Mauston junior Dakota Barrix at the 1:39 mark. In the 195 match, Wisconsin Dells junior Kayleb Galloway gave the Chiefs another six points when he pinned Mauston sophomore Ethan Erickson at 1:54.
Wisconsin Dells senior Chester Isaacson earned a 13-1 major decision victory over Mauston senior Owen Lewis in the 220 match. The Golden Eagles finally ended the Chiefs’ big run when junior Dom Meurett pinned junior Kevin Coughlin at the 3:30 mark in the second round of the 285 match.
Finally, the Wisconsin Dells finished off the meet with junior Sam Gunderson earning a forfeit win in the 106 weight class.
Though Mauston head coach Colin Dolata admitted the meet’s result was a disappointment, he still offered praise for several of his wrestlers’ performances.
“Anthony Thayer came out with a big win for us tonight,” Dolata said. “It looked like a pretty close matchup between him and (Jordon Kosterman), and Anthony came out on top with a pin for us. Josiah (Ziebell’s) pin was a big pin for us at 145. He’s been wrestling varsity at 145 most of the year. He did a really good job tonight and proved why he’s wrestling there right now.”
“Dom (Meurett) wrestled well. I know that’s a big kid for Dom to be wrestling. Dom’s a big guy, but to get that win, that pin over (Kevin Coughlin) tonight will really set a good tone for him at the conference tournament.”
Though neither Miller and Jarrett Dolata ended up scoring a pinfall victory, Dolata credited them both with taking what was given to them and getting as many points as they could out of it.
Now, the attention for both teams turns to Friday’s conference meet, where Dolata believes his team can excel if they put the loss to the Chiefs behind them and return to the level he’s seen out of them earlier in the season.
“They’ve learned everything they’re going to learn this year,” he said. “I saw a lot of guys working technique that we work at practice every day, which is good. … I think we need to work on a little bit of conditioning before the tournament, but, more so, people have to get healthy again.”
“If everybody looks as good as they have before, they’ll do well.”