WIAA D3 WRESTLING TEAM STATE TOURNAMENT: #3 Fennimore 37, #2 Stratford 31
MADISON — Jayden Glasbrenner was down 6–0 early in the third period and his team’s season was slipping away.
Then, the Fennimore freshman pulled off the improbable in the 113-pound match of Saturday’s WIAA Division 3 Team State semifinal against No. 2 Stratford to save the Golden Eagles’ season.
Glassbrenner (36–12) rallied from the six-point deficit to pin Stratford’s Karter Stuttgen (25–9), a sixth-place finisher at individual state a week earlier, with 48 seconds left to give the Eagles a huge six-point win with just two matches remaining.
Senior Luke Blair (26–6) followed Glasbrenner’s pin with one of his own at 120 pounds to clinch Fennimore’s 37–31 victory over the Tigers and send the Golden Eagles to a fifth straight D3 state championship dual.
“Jayden is a gamer,” said Fennimore head coach Chad Steldt. “He has the ability to really rise to the occasion at a young age. His success is in a huge part due to the competition in the room. He and Brecken Muench have battled all year for that spot and it really has helped both of them grow mentally and technically.”
Had Stuttgen held to beat Glasbrenner, the Tigers would have taken a 28–25 lead and most likely clinched the victory to end Fennimore’s season, as the Stratford had undefeated state champion Gavin Drexler (51–0) waiting in the wings for the final match at 126 pounds.
Instead, Glasbrenner’s win was a nine-point swing that gave the Eagles a 31–25 lead with just two weight classes remaining.
Blair pinned Logan Gaulke (26–10) with 15 seconds left in the first period to clinch a Fennimore victory.
“Luke ‘Roper,’ as coach Muench calls him is just tough,” said Steldt. “He just loves the sport for what it is. He embraces the pressure, the everyday grind, and above all else deeply respects his teammates, his close friends, to do whatever is necessary to win. These attributes will serve him well in his professional life.”
With the win in hand and the celebration already in full swing, Fennimore forfeited the final match to Drexler at 126 to account for the final score.
Fennimore had trailed 25–3 through the first seven matches and it didn’t look good for Steldt’s Eagles.
Senior Alex Birchman (39–11), the D3 individual state champion at 132 pounds, moved up to 138 to score a hard fought 6–3 win over state qualifier Elijah Lucio (16–4).
But the Tigers rattled off five straight victories after that, including victories over three Fennimore senior state qualifiers Aidan Nutter (31–9) at 145, Mason Lull (28–6) at 152 and Nick Blaschke (29–22) at 160.
A forfeit at 182 to individual state champion Trevor Dennee (50–1) made it 25–3.
Senior Will Ahnen (36–11) began Fenniomore’s comeback with a 10–1 major decision over Raife Smart (22–8) at 195 after moving up a weight class.
Seniors Logan Klaas (28–13) and Aaron Ragels (35–4) swapped spots in the lineup, with Klaas scoring a 2:56 pin of Beau Gross at 220 before Ragels pinned Cole Marten (28–11) with four seconds left in the second period at 285.
Freshman Brett Birchman (32–12) kept the Fennimore momentum going with a lightning-quick pin of Camryn Fisher (2–2) at 106 pounds to tie the dual at 25–25 setting up Glasbrenner’s heroics at 113.
“We wrestled pretty bad and still won against the second best team in the state,” said Steldt. “I think this shows how talented and how far the Fennimore wrestling program has come.
“I would love to win big, but for fans, for all the youth that were there, we provided some cheap entertainment for a day. I think no matter what side we are on, win or lose, we all just have to sit back and appreciate the athletes and coaches that have provided so much for their respected communities. The thrills, ups and downs, the laughter, and even the tears knowing it is all over for the seniors is all worth it. Both Stratford and Fennimore communities have some great wrestlers, luckily we all had a chance to be a part of these epic battles. Thank you boys.”
“Also hats off to Joe Schwabe and the Stratford boys,” added Steldt. “They are class acts and were very respectful through the whole dual. They were hard competitors, but polite as heck in the tunnel. That means a lot in my eyes.”
WIAA Division 3 Team State Semifinal
No. 3 Fennimore 37, No. 2 Stratford 31
(from Saturday, March 7 @ UW Fieldhouse, Madison)
132: Max Schwabe (Stratford) over Maximos Miles (Fennimore) Fall 1:51
138: Alex Birchman (Fennimore) over Elijah Lucio (Stratford) Dec 6-3
145: Konner Stuttgen (Stratford) over Aidan Nutter (Fennimore) Dec 10-5
152: Jacob Heiden (Stratford) over Mason Lull (Fennimore) Dec 6-2
160: Devin Dennee (Stratford) over Nick Blaschke (Fennimore) Maj 15-1
170: Hunter Ford (Stratford) over Mason Miles (Fennimore) Dec 9-6
182: Trevor Dennee (Stratford) won by forfeit
195: Will Ahnen (Fennimore) over Raife Smart (Stratford) Maj 10-1
220:Logan Klaas (Fennimore) over Beau Gross (Stratford) Fall 2:56
285: Aaron Ragels (Fennimore) over Cole Marten (Stratford) Fall 3:56
106: Brett Birchman (Fennimore) over Camryn Fisher (Stratford) Fall 0:15
113: Jayden Glasbrenner (Fennimore) over Karter Stuttgen (Stratford) Fall 5:12
120: Luke Blair (Fennimore) over Logan Gaulke (Stratford) Fall 1:45
126: Gavin Drexler (Stratford) won by forfeit