By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
MCDONALD'S CO-GAME OF THE WEEK (Division 3 Team Wrestling): #2 Fennimore 32, #3 La Crosse Aquinas 31
Fennimore headed back to team state: #2 Eagles beats #3 Aquinas on tie-breaker for sectional title
Fennimore wrestling
The Fennimore wrestling team celebrates is WIAA Division 3 New Lisbon Team Sectional championship last Tuesday night following a dramatic 32–31 victory over #3-ranked La Crosse Aquinas.


By Jason Nihles, The Fennimore Times

NEW LISBON — There was plenty of drama and even a few tense moments on the Fennimore side following the championship match against #3-ranked La Crosse Aquinas at last Tuesday’s WIAA Division 3 New Lisbon Team Sectional.

Tate Flege scored a 17–2 technical fall over Fennimore senior Kaden Hahn at 145 pounds in the final match to tie the championship dual at 31–31. 

After few moments to determine the tie-breaker winner, Fennimore was declared a 32–31 winner by the fifth criteria — most combined pins, defaults, forfeits and disqualifications, 3–2.

The #2-ranked Eagles (14–2, 6–0 SWAL) defeated SWAL rival and #5-ranked Mineral Point 33–25 on a pin by freshman Tristan Steldt in the final match at 138 pounds in a sectional semifinal dual earlier in the night.

Fennimore will now compete at the WIAA D3 Team State Tournament at the UW Field House in Madison Saturday, March 5. The other teams in the D3 field are top-ranked Coleman, #9 Random Lake and #11 St. Croix Falls. The teams will be seeded at the state tournament. The semifinals are set for 10 a.m. with the championship match is set for 3 p.m. for all three divisions.

This will be Fennimore’s seventh trip to the Team State tournament in the past eight years, after making it six straight from 2015–2020 (winning D3 state titles in ‘16 and ‘19).

“Tuesday was not our best day, but it was a good day,” said Fennimore head coach Chad Steldt. “The boys came off a high from beating Iowa–Grant/Highland at Regionals and then there was a little dip in their performance on Tuesday. We say this earlier in the year, and it is usual for a young team to go through such ups and downs, although they had enough to pull it off.” 

Aquinas dominated the early part of the dual winning four of the first five matches — including pins at 170 and 195 — to build an early 20–3 lead, but junior Wyatt Ahnen scored a clutch 7–5 overtime victory at 160 pounds to prevent a possible 23–0 lead. 

Senior Cameron Winkers pinned Will Hansen at 220, and sophomore Evan Gratz was a 4–1 winner over Preston Horihan at 285 to pull the Eagles within striking distance at 20–12.

Freshman Amryn Nutter battled Jake Fitzpatrick to a 7–2 loss at 106, but only gave up the three team points, before sophomore Ian Crapp and junior Brecken Muench scored back-to-back pins at 113 and 120 to give the Eagles a 24–23 lead through 10 matches.

Junior Brett Birchman scored an 11–2 major decision over Zach Malin at 126 to increase Fennimore’s lead to five points. 

After an Aquinas 4–0 win at 132, Tristan Steldt’s 9–6 win over Jesse Penchi at 138 made it 31–26 heading into the final match of the dual.

“I have to say that Aquinas did a great job game planning,” added Steldt. “We matched up really bad against them and they took full advantage of their potential. On the other hand, our kids that were pitted against the odds did an amazing job not giving up unnecessary points; Cameron Wolf keeping (David) Malin to a regular decision, Kaden Hahn not getting pin, Brett Birchman getting the major decision instead of the regular decision, and a very sick Amryn Nutter just making weight and then having enough heart to keep his matches to regular decisions, all proved to be so, so crucial in the 32–31 win.”

“Also, thank goodness for my coaching staff; they did a great job keeping me up to date on scoring and where we should be per match. It was and amazing overall effort by our program.”

The semifinal matches began at 145 pounds, and Mineral Point opened up an early 10–3  lead through four matches.

Fennimore’s upperweights scored 21 straight points, on a 3–0 decision by Cameron Wolf at 182, pins by Dalton Wolf at 195 and Winkers at 220, and a forfeit win by Bailey Schaefer at 285 to give the Eagles a 24–10 lead.

The Pointers won the next four matches — but three via decision and just one by pin  and Fennimore lost a team point for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty — to reclaim a 25–23 lead.

Nick Needham scored a dominating 10–0 major decision at 132 to give Fennimore the lead for good at 27–25, and the younger Steldt sealed the win with a 4:02 pin of Colbi Carey at 138 pounds.

“My hat goes off to the Mineral Point wrestlers and coaches,” said coach Steldt. “They had a good game plan coming into the match and their wrestlers performed very well. We let them control some scrambles which are uncharacteristic for us. Once again, our upperweights, Cameron Wolf, Dalton Wolf, Cameron Winkers and Bailey Schaefer turned the tide in our favor and Tristan did a nice job sealing the deal at the end with a pin.”

Fennimore capped its banner week at last Saturday's WIAA Division 3 Individual Westby Sectional by qualifying nine wrestlers for this weekend's WIAA Individual Wrestling State Tournament that will be held Thursday–Saturday at the Kohl Center in Madison.

Junior Brecken Muench (120 pounds) and senior Cameron Winkers (220) won individual sectionals titles at Westby.

Freshman Amryn Nutter (106), sophomore Ian Crapp (113), junior Brett Birchman (126) and freshman Tristan Steldt (138) each placed second last Saturday, while senior Kaden Hahn (145), junior Wyatt Ahnen (160) and freshman Nathan Blaschke (170) finished third to qualify for state.

WIAA Division 3
New Lisbon Team Sectional
(from Tuesday, Feb. 15 @ New Lisbon)
Championship — Fennimore 32, La Crosse Aquinas 31 (F wins by tie-breaker)
Semifinals — Fennimore 33, Mineral Point 25; La Crosse Aquinas 48, Ithaca/Weston 27 

#2 Fennimore 32, #3 La Crosse Aquinas 31
152: Joseph Penchi (A) over Syler Zdanczewicz (F) (TF 15-0 3:45). 160: Wyatt Ahnen (F) over Ian Kaczmarowski (A) (SV-1 7-5). 170: Calvin Hargrove (A) over Nathan Blaschke (F) (Fall 3:40). 182: David Malin (A) over Cameron Wolf (F) (Dec 11-4). 195: Riley Klar (A) over Dalton Wolf (F) (Fall 5:12). 220: Cameron Winkers (F) over Will Hansen (A) (Fall 1:44). 285: Evan Gratz (F) over Preston Horihan (A) (Dec 4-1). 106: Jake Fitzpatrick (A) over Amryn Nutter (F) (Dec 7-2). 113: Ian Crapp (F) over Jackson Massa (A) (Fall 2:54). 120: Brecken Muench (F) over Thomas Bagniefski (A) (Fall 1:27). 126: Brett Birchman (F) over Zach Malin (A) (MD 11-2). 132: Trevor Paulson (AQUI) over Nick Needham (F) (Dec 4-0). 138: Tristan Steldt (F) over Jesse Penchi (A) (Dec 9-6). 145: Robert `Tate` Flege (A) over Kaden Hahn (F) (TF 17-2 6:00) 
Fennimore wins via tie breaker criteria E 

#2 Fennimore 33, Mineral Point 25
145: Tarrin Riley (MP) over Kaden Hahn (F) (MD 10-2). 152: Syler Zdanczewicz (F) over Hayden Bakken (MP) (Dec 4-3). 160: Jimmy Tibbits (MP) over Wyatt Ahnen (N) (Dec 6-5). 170: Bo Hanson (MP) over Nathan Blaschke (F) (Dec 7-3). 182: Cameron Wolf (F) over Quenten Gunderson (MP) (Dec 3-0). 195: Dalton Wolf (F) over Will Schute (MP) (Fall 1:00). 220: Cameron Winkers (F) over Mac Busser (MP) (Fall 2:47). 285: Bailey Schaefer (F) won by forfeit. 106: Roen Carey (MP) over Amryn Nutter (F) (Dec 8-2). 113: Kade Rule (MP) over Ian Crapp (FENN) (Fall 3:22). 120: Carson Kroll (MP) over Brecken Muench (F) (SV-1 6-4). 126: Lucas Sullivan (MP) over Brett Birchman (F) (Dec 4-0). 132: Nick Needham (F) over Kylie Rule (MP) (MD 10-0). 138: Tristan Steldt (F) over Colbi Carey (MP) (Fall 4:02). 
(FENN unsportsman like conduct -1.0)