By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
MCDONALD'S GAME OF THE WEEK (Prep Wrestling): WIAA D3 Mineral Point Sectional
Iowa–Grant/Highland sends four to state, places second as a team
Iowa–Grant/Highland junior Cal Dorota went 3–0 to win the 182-pound title at Saturday's WIAA D3 Mineral Point Sectional, including a wild 16–15 comeback win over #2-ranked Mason Hughes of Mineral Point in the title match. Dorota is 18–0 and ranked #1 entering Saturday's D3 Individual State Tournament at Wausau East.

WIAA WRESTLING: Division 3 Mineral Point Sectional

Iowa–Grant/Highland Panthers are heading to this Saturday’s WIAA Division 3 Individual State Wrestling Tournament.

Freshman Elliot Biba (106 pounds), and juniors Mason Welsh (120) and Cal Dorota (182) won individual sectional titles at Saturday’s WIAA Division 3 Mineral Point Sectional, while fellow junior Colton Cutts placed second at 152 to punch their tickets to this year’s condensed version of the state tournament, which will be held at three separate locations on Saturday.

In past (non-COVID) years, the top three wrestlers in each weight class advanced to state. In order to fit this year’s entire tournament into a single day, only the top two finishers at sectionals qualified for state.

The D3 state tournament will be held at Wausau East High School Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m. The championships are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.

A pair of Panthers, sophomore Caden Lindner (126) and senior Donald Laufenberg (285), placed third at sectionals and just missed out on a trip to state due to this year’s condensed state tournament setup.

In another change to this year’s postseason procedures, there were no team sectional tournaments. Instead, the team winner of each individual sectional qualified for the WIAA Team State Tournament, which will be held Saturday, Feb. 20 at Wausau West High School.

Host Mineral Point crowned two individual champions Saturday and had four other state qualifiers to rack up 153.5 points to win the sectional team title. 

Iowa–Grant/Highland finished a close second with 138.5 points, while La Crosse Aquinas, which had 10 sectional qualifiers, was third with 120.5 points.

“We had a pretty good day,” said Iowa–Grant/Highland head coach Ryan Allen.  “There were some matches that I would definitely like to have back where I think we could have wrestled better and won. But that happens in every tournament. Overall, I am very proud of our team this year. We have battled hard throughout the year with a team-first attitude the whole time. It was super fun watching our guys develop into not only better wrestlers but better young men.”

Biba (17–4, ranked #4 in D3) won the 106-pound title with a 10–7 decision over Jack Fitzpatrick of La Crosse Aquinas, after a first-period pin and a 13–6 semifinal victory over #9-ranked Brookwood’s Dylan Powell (10–3).  

“Elliot Biba wrestled a terrific tournament and became a sectional champ as a freshman,” said coach Allen. “He is very tough and has a great gas tank. I think Elliot has a good chance to do some very special things at state this year. He will need to stay focused and take it one takedown at a time up there.”

Welsh (16–3, #6 in D3) won the 120-pound sectional title by pinning Fennimore sophomore Brett Birchman (10–1, #4) in the finals at 4:41 to avenge a regional final loss to Birchman a week earlier.

Welsh advanced to the sectional final with an opening round pin and a 6–1 decision over North Crawford/Seneca’s

Raiden Steele.

“Mason Welsh also had a great sectional tournament in becoming a champ,” said Allen. “Mason avenged his loss in the finals from last week by just wrestling hard and being more aggressive this week. If he can keep wrestling like that it will be a good weekend for him in Wausau.”

Top-ranked Dorota (18–0) battled back from an early deficit to defeat #2-ranked Mason Hughes (10–2), a senior from Mineral Point, 16–15 in the 182-pound title bout, that was unquestionably the match of the day.

“Cal Dorota had to give it his all, but he got it done,” said Allen. “After a slow start in the finals, Cal came roaring back to win 16–15. Cal is a very good wrestler and needs to be ready to go in these big matches. I think he will be ready next week and it is going to be fun to watch.” 

Dorota and Hughes could meet again for a third straight weekend in the 182-pound state finals, should

both advance that far. 

Cutts (11–2, #12) finished second at 152 after a championship loss by pin to third-ranked Aiden Brosinski, a junior from De Soto.

Cutts advanced to the finals with a 15–5 quarterfinal victory and a 5:37 semifinal pin of Independence/Gilmanton senior Ethan Severson (11–4, #11). 

“Colton earned his trip to state with a runner-up finish to a very good wrestler,” said Allen. “Colton has been one of the toughest kids on the team this year, battling through injuries and just never giving up. I’m very proud of the way he wrestled on Saturday and hope he can do the same next Saturday.” 

Lindner (16–4, #6) finished third at 126 after being pinned in his quarterfinal match by Aquinas’ Tate Flege (13–3).

Lindner battled all the way back to third place with three-straight pins in a total of 2:37, including a 1:31 pin of Riverdale’s Rylee Wanek in the third-place match. But Flege suffered a 4–0 loss to Mineral Point’s Tarrin Riley (11–0) in the finals and Lindner didn’t get a second-place wrestleback against Flege. 

“Caden has had a great season and has not only improved technically, but mentally as well this year,” said Allen. “As a sophomore this year, we will expect him to be a leader on the team this off season and into next year.”

Laufenberg (18–2, #6) suffered a semifinal loss to Whitehall’s Wylie Dunn (14–1, #10) in the semifinals and placed second after Dunn suffered 5–2 a championship loss to Blair–Taylor’s Chris Rogstad (11–2) denying Laufenberg a wrestleback despite his pin of Mineral Point senior Will Straka in the third-place match.

“Donald Laufenberg got third and just barely missed an opportunity to wrestle at state,” said Allen. “After a loss in the semi’s Don didn’t get a wrestleback which was disappointing, but I am still very proud of this guy. He has been a hammer for us at heavyweight this year. He only lost one match in all of our duals. As a coach, it is so nice knowing you have a guy like Donald at heavyweight, who is going to go after that pin for the team and just about every time, get it. We will really miss not having him next year.” 

Senior Andrew Winders’ (16–3) prep career also came to an end Saturday with a fifth-place finish at 145 after a 4–2 overtime loss to Pittsville’s Camron Damman (11–1, #10) in the semifinals and a consolation bracket loss to Pec/Argyle’s Kristian Orloff (12–4).

“Andrew lost a heartbreaker in the semis to a tough kid in overtime,” said Allen. “It definitely wasn’t the ending we had hoped for but it was a great season for Andrew. He is just a great kid who has invested a lot of time into the wrestling program over the last few years. We will miss his leadership next year, for sure.”

Sophomore Blake Dax (12–5) went 1–3 Saturday and placed sixth at 170 pounds.

“Blake has had such a great year wrestling tough as nails and always putting the team first,” said Allen. “This weekend does not define his season at all. Blake has made big improvements from last year and is one of the hardest-working kids I know. In almost all of our duals Blake was bumped up a weight and he was always glad to do it for the team. He will be a big piece of our puzzle next year.”

Other area Division 3 state qualifiers include: 
113: Lucas Sullivan, Mineral Point, So., 11–1
120: Brett Birchman, Fennimore, So., 10–1 
126: Tarrin Riley, So., Mineral Point, 11–0*
132: Brody Lee, Sr., Fennimore, 10–0*
160: Bo Hanson, Jr., Mineral Point, 11–1
170: Nolan Springer, Sr., Mineral Point, 11–0*
182: Mason Hughes, Jr., Mineral Point, 10–2
195: Ryan McCartney, So., Lancaster, 16–1*
220: Daniel Norstrom, Sr., Mineral Point, 9–1
*= Sectional champion

WIAA Division 3
Mineral Point Sectional
(from Saturday, Feb. 6 @ Mineral Point)
Team Scores:  1.Mineral Point 153.5, 2.Iowa–Grant/Highland 138.5, 3.La Crosse Aquinas 120.5, 4.Royall 98, 5.Fennimore 93, 6.Riverdale 83, 7.Ithaca/Weston 70, 8.Westby 68.5, 9.Whitehall 55, 10.Lancaster 43.5, 10.De Soto 43.5
Iowa–Grant/Highland state qualifiers
106: Elliot Biba (17-2) placed 1st and scored 22.0 team points.
Quarterfinal - Elliot Biba (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 17-2 won by fall over Gabe Rombalski (Independence/Gilm.) 9-6 (Fall 1:20)
Semifinal - Elliot Biba (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 17-2 won by decision over Dylan Powell (Brookwood) 10-3 (Dec 13-6)
1st Place Match - Elliot Biba (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 17-2 won by decision over Jake Fitzpatrick (Aquinas) 14-2 (Dec 10-7)
120: Mason Welsh (16-3) placed 1st and scored 24.0 team points.
Quarterfinal - Mason Welsh (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 16-3 won by fall over Marcus Forsythe (New Lisbon) 11-5 (Fall 1:22)
Semifinal - Mason Welsh (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 16-3 won by decision over Raiden Steele (North Crawford/Seneca) 12-3 (Dec 6-1)
1st Place Match - Mason Welsh (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 16-3 won by fall over Brett Birchman (Fennimore) 10-1 (Fall 4:14)
152: Colton Cutts (11-2) placed 2nd and scored 19.0 team points.
Quarterfinal - Colton Cutts (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 11-2 won by major decision over Garrett Vatland (Westby) 13-7 (MD 15-5)
Semifinal - Colton Cutts (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 11-2 won by fall over Ethan Severson (Independence/Gilm.) 11-4 (Fall 5:37)
1st Place Match - Aiden Brosinski (De Soto) 15-0 won by fall over Colton Cutts (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 11-2 (Fall 2:52)
2nd Place Match - Colton Cutts (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 11-2 won by no contest over Garrett Vatland (Westby) 13-7 (NC)
182: Cal Dorota (18-0) placed 1st and scored 23.5 team points.
Quarterfinal - Cal Dorota (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 18-0 won by fall over Caleb Birkrem (Ithaca/Weston) 5-5 (Fall 1:27)
Semifinal - Cal Dorota (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 18-0 won by tech fall over Eric Kleinhans (Whitehall) 13-2 (TF-1.5 2:53 (17-1))
1st Place Match - Cal Dorota (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 18-0 won by decision over Mason Hughes (Mineral Point) 10-2 (Dec 16-15)
Iowa–Grant/Highland other sectional qualifiers
126: Caden Lindner (16-4) placed 3rd and scored 17.0 team points.
Quarterfinal - Tate Flege (Aquinas) 13-3 won by fall over Caden Lindner (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 16-4 (Fall 2:41)
Cons. Round 1 - Caden Lindner (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 16-4 won by fall over Charly Guzman (Brookwood) 11-5 (Fall 0:38)
Cons. Semi - Caden Lindner (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 16-4 won by fall over Colin McKittrick (Royall) 17-2 (Fall 0:37)
3rd Place Match - Caden Lindner (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 16-4 won by fall over Rylee Wanek (Riverdale) 11-6 (Fall 1:32)
2nd Place Match - Tate Flege (Aquinas) 13-3 won by no contest over Caden Lindner (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 16-4 (NC)
145: Andrew Winders (17-3) placed 5th and scored 9.0 team points.
Quarterfinal - Andrew Winders (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 17-3 won by fall over Connor Smieja (Independence/Gilm.) 8-8 (Fall 3:58)
Semifinal - Camron Dammann (Pittsville) 11-1 won in sudden victory - 1 over Andrew Winders (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 17-3 (SV-1 4-2)
Cons. Semi - Kristian Orloff (Pecatonica/Argyle) 12-4 won by fall over Andrew Winders (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 17-3 (Fall 3:03)
5th Place Match - Andrew Winders (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 17-3 won over Connor Smieja (Independence/Gilm.) 8-8 (OTHR1)
170: Blake Dax (12-5) placed 6th and scored 6.0 team points.
Quarterfinal - Riley Klar (Aquinas) 11-6 won by tech fall over Blake Dax (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 12-5 (TF-1.5 4:50 (19-4))
Cons. Round 1 - Blake Dax (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 12-5 won by fall over Shayne Sparby (Necedah) 10-7 (Fall 4:46)
Cons. Semi - Ashton Roach (Royall) 13-2 won by fall over Blake Dax (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 12-5 (Fall 1:57)
5th Place Match - Ty Dilley (Riverdale) 8-7 won by major decision over Blake Dax (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 12-5 (MD 17-7)
285: Donald Laufenberg (18-2) placed 3rd and scored 18.0 team points.
Quarterfinal - Donald Laufenberg (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 18-2 won by fall over Dawson Wilmot (Riverdale) 9-7 (Fall 3:07)
Semifinal - Wylie Dunn (Whitehall) 14-1 won by fall over Donald Laufenberg (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 18-2 (Fall 1:37)
Cons. Semi - Donald Laufenberg (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 18-2 won by fall over Caleb Marchwick (Ithaca/Weston) 13-4 (Fall 0:18)
3rd Place Match - Donald Laufenberg (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 18-2 won by fall over Will Straka (Mineral Point) 9-4 (Fall 1:24)
2nd Place Match - Wylie Dunn (Whitehall) 14-1 won by no contest over Donald Laufenberg (Iowa-Grant/Highland) 18-2 (NC)