Stoughton co-coach Dan Spilde can make history in the Vikings’ season opener against Monona Grove/McFarland on Friday.
Spilde is a win away from his 400th victory as a coach, but he, co-coach Bob Empey and the rest of the Vikings view the season opener as a step toward loftier goals in the state series.
Spilde (399-102 in 24 seasons at Stoughton) and Empey (359-82 in 20 seasons) will look to coach the Vikings to a third straight Division 1 team state championship and 10th in school history.
Stoughton is also seeking its sixth straight conference title and 41st in school history.
“Our team’s daily improvement will lead individuals and the team achieve our team goals,” Empey said. “We hope there is surprise improvement from all our team members. It will make the season special.”
The Vikings finished last season 21-0 in dual competition. Nicolar Rivera (58-0 at 106 pounds) and Hunter Lewis (138 pounds) gave Stoughton its 50th and 51st individual state champions, the most in state history.
Rivera, a sophomore, is one of six returners with state experience.
Junior Brooks Empey took sixth at 182 pounds as a freshman, and finished last season as the 195-pound runner-up with a 54-8 record. He lost a 5-4 decision to Marshfield’s Sam Mitchell in the championship match.
Junior Luke Mechler also placed second at state last season. He finished 55-5 at 145 pounds.
Senior Braeden Whitehead qualified for state at 132 pounds last season, but lost in the first round to end his season with a 40-6 record. He was the 2018 state runner-up at 126 pounds.
Seniors Gavin Model (52-9 at 152) and Brandt Spilde (32-14 at 170) also qualified for state last season.
“Those individuals will help lead our team,” Bob Empey said, “with another eight letterwinners working to help achieve our team goals.”
Bob Empey also listed freshmen Chance Suddeth (106) and Griffin Empey (285) as newcomers who could make an immediate impact. The veteran co-coach also listed conference rival Milton and reigning Big Eight Conference champion Janesville Craig as contenders in this year’s sectional.
Stoughton will compete in several tournaments against some of the state’s best teams, notably the Pieper Duals (Dec. 7), Dells Duals (Dec. 14), Badger State Invitational (Dec. 21), Battle at the Bridge in Woodbridge, Virginia (Dec. 27-28) and Cheesehead Invitational in Kaukauna (Jan. 3-4).
The Vikings will compete in the Division 1 Sun Prairie Regional and Oconomowoc Sectional. Team sectionals will be held at Janesville Craig.