Every storybook ending has a hero, and Alex Wicks was happy to play the part for Stoughton in the Division 1 team state championship dual.
Wicks won his 126-pound match in thrilling fashion to give the Vikings their first lead against Mukwonago.
Trenton Dow followed with a perfectly-executed defensive bout, as Stoughton captured its third consecutive team state title with a 32-30 victory over the Indians on Saturday, March 7, at the UW Field House.
The Vikings never trailed in their 45-24 quarterfinal win over Neenah and their 42-19 semifinal victory over Kaukauna on Friday, March 6.
Stoughton 32, Mukwonago 30
Wicks scrambled in the first four minutes and trailed Antonio Klinkerfues 6-4 after two periods, but turned the tide with a vice-grip headlock early in the third. He held on to pin Klinkerfues in 4:27 and give the Vikings a 32-27 lead with one match left.
“During the middle of the match, I sensed my opponent got a little down on his luck,” Wicks said. “I looked at the bench, saw everyone cheering me on and felt like I could pull a win out.”
Dow, an individual state qualifier at 132, led for most of his match against two-time state medalist Tyler Goebel. Dow eventually lost by 8-7 decision in overtime, but did his job by avoiding a pin or technical fall.
“I’m good underneath on my shot, so I knew I could either get the score or stalemate to waste time,” Dow said. “Most of the time I wasn’t trying to finish. I was just trying to get a hold of his legs and hang on. I wanted the win more for my team, not myself.”
“As good as their 132-pounder is, Trenton is so good with positioning,” Stoughton co-coach Dan Spilde said. “He could’ve easily went for the win, but he did what was best for the team. I had a great feeling when we started at 138 because then he was our last guy, because no matter what we needed, we knew he was going to get it done.”
Top-seeded Mukwonago (25-2) beat Stoughton 48-25 at the Zelinski Memorial Duals on Jan. 25, but the third-seeded Vikings came back to win their 10th team state championship in program history.
“We definitely thought we should have been seeded higher,” Stoughton senior Gavin Model said. “Obviously we weren’t going to be No. 1 since they (Mukwonago) beat us, but we proved that we were the best team.”
Two-time state champion Nicolar Rivera (120) pinned Jake Wisinski in 1:09 to cut the Vikings’ deficit to 27-26, setting the stage for Wicks’ heroics.
“We knew if we stayed the course, there were matches we could win,” Spilde said. “We were forced to be a little more aggressive to try to get bonus points.”
Wisinski, who finished sixth at the individual state tournament, took Rivera down early in the match, but the Stoughton sophomore fought back to finish his season 51-0 and remain undefeated in his prep career at 109-0.
“Once I got taken down, my eyes opened up and I got a little upset,” Rivera said. “Then I showed him what I could do.”
Chance Suddeth (106), Model (152), Luke Mechler (160), Rudy Detweiler (182) and Brooks Empey (220) also won bouts for the Vikings.
Suddeth used an arm bar to pin Brady Wierzbicki in 3:52 and cut Stoughton’s deficit to 24-20.
“I’ve been doing that move since I was really young,” Suddeth said. “The only thing I was worried about was beating the clock.”
Model, the bronze medalist at 145, finished his season 54-5. He scored two takedowns in the third period to defeat 152-pound sixth-place winner Cole Hansen 4-2.
Mechler, the bronze medalist at 152, finished his junior season 56-2. He scored takedowns at will by using duck-unders against in a 23-8 tech fall over Lucas Benn.
“After I took him down six times and he just laid there, I decided it was time to really start pouring on the takedowns,” Mechler said. “I thought if I could score that many points, why not take it.”
Detweiler, who qualified for state at 195, dropped down a weight class and came out on top against state qualifier Maximus Berrios. The Stoughton junior scored two takedowns and two back points in the third period to win 8-5.
“He came out strong in the first two periods, but I felt like he got tired,” Detweiler said of Berrios. “That allowed me to get on my attacks.”
Fresh off an individual state title, Empey (56-1) remained in control throughout a 3-0 win over state qualifier Caleb Willman.
“Being one of the leaders, I should’ve got more points for my team,” Empey said. “It was frustrating, but I had to get over it and support my teammates.”
Trent Carpenter (138) started the dual for the Vikings, but was pinned in 1:18 by Devin Lawrence. Braeden Whitehead (145) closed his Stoughton career with a 17-10 loss to state qualifier Nate Stokhaug.
Luke Spilde (170) and Brandt Spilde (182) each lost by pin to state qualifiers. In a rematch of a first-round state match, heavyweight Griffin Empey lost 7-3 against fourth-place finisher Tyler Pitcel. Ethan Peterson (113) lost 5-1 to Cody Goebel.
Stoughton 42, Kaukauna 19
The Vikings started the dual against the second-seeded Galloping Ghosts (13-3) on the right foot by winning the coin flip, breaking a string of bad luck that allowed them to lock in the lineups.
“We hadn’t won the flip in five years here,” Spilde said. “It’s amazing how much of a difference that makes. We got to recreate the state championship match with Nicolar, then that set up the big match for Wicks.”
Stoughton won the first four matches to take a 14-0 lead.
Brandt Spilde (182 pounds) scored three points in the second period against state qualifier Griffin Bekish and stayed on top over the final three minutes for a 3-2 decision.
“I like riding. I’ve always been pretty decent at it,” Brandt Spilde said. “I also wrestle Brooks in practice, so everybody else feels small compared to him.”
Detweiler (195) scored a takedown with 23 seconds left in overtime to win 9-7 over 182-pound state qualifier Trevor Stuyvenberg.
Brooks Empey (220) cruised to an 18-3 tech fall of Alex Ashauer. Griffin Empey (285) scored a decisive takedown in the third period to beat Brodie Schiedermayer 5-4.
Suddeth (106) lost to state champion Greyson Clark by 14-2 major decision, and Peterson (113) was pinned in 3:19 by two-time state medalist Jaden Verhagen.
In a rematch of the 120-pound state title match six days before, Rivera jumped over Mason Campshure for the final takedown in a 21-6 tech fall.
“At the time I was really hyped and he was really low,” Rivera said. “I love doing things people won’t expect, because they work 99% of the time.”
Wicks (126) was almost pinned in the first period, but fought back to pin Mason Nickel in 3:30 and extend the Vikings’ lead to 25-10.
“Instead of holding back and not taking risks, I went for it all,” Wicks said. “I had a hard time getting out of cradles early in the match, but I saw an opening for a headlock and took it.”
Dow (132) lost 3-0 to state champ Jager Eisch, but Carpenter (138) scored nine of the 11 points in the third period to beat Teaken Leon 13-8.
Whitehead (145) clinched the Stoughton’s spot in the state championship by pinning Logan Stumpf in 55 seconds.
“I needed to destroy him in the first period,” Whitehead said. “I get tired quicker because I haven’t had a bunch of matches to condition me, so the key was getting it over early.”
Whitehead had not competed since January because of fears of further ligament damage to his left knee.
“Some guys would’ve hung it up and walked away, but he’s too big of a team player to do that,” Dan Spilde said of Whitehead. “His pin was big because if he doesn’t get that, it’s still anybody’s game.”
The Vikings won two of the final three matches for good measure. Model defeated 152-pound fourth-place winner Titus Hammen 9-5. Mechler bumped up to 170 and won by 20-5 tech fall over Drew Wendzicki. Luke Spilde (160) was pinned by Clay Wendzick in 4:52.
Stoughton 45, Neenah 24
The Vikings also won nine of the 14 matches against the sixth-seeded Rockets (10-4).
Dow (132) pinned Charlie Alft in 1:11, Rivera (120) pinned Nick Novak in 1:21 and Mechler (170) started the dual with a pin of Bryce Cook in 1:25.
Model (145) and Brooks Empey (220) each won by 16-0 tech fall. Luke Spilde (160) won by 15-0 tech fall.
Carpenter (138) scored the first seven points and the final five points in a 13-4 major decision over Ramon Manka-Wigfall. Brandt Spilde (182) dominated his way to a 10-2 major decision over Davin Munoz, and Suddeth (106) scored five points in the third period to earn a 9-1 major decision over Evan Piechocki.
Whitehead (145) scored the first seven points against fifth-place medalist Drake Hayward, but couldn’t hang on in a 10-9 loss. Wicks (126) lost 8-4 to state qualifier Jayden Sheppard.
Rose Ann Marshall (113) Luke Pugh (195) and Tony Hohol (285) lost by pin.