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Eagles complete golden 3-peat
State Champs
The Fennimore wrestling team won a third-straight WIAA Division 3 Team State title, and a fifth in the past nine years, with a 46–16 victory Coleman in Saturday’s D3 Team State Championships dual at the UW Field House in Madison.

WIAA WRESTLING: Division 3 Team State Tournament

By Jason Nihles, The Fennimore Times

Eagles complete golden 3-peat

MADISON — The top-seeded and #1-ranked Fennimore wrestling team is the WIAA Division 3 Team State champion once again.

The Golden Eagles (17–1) cruised to a third-straight D3 Team title with a pair of dominant victories Saturday at the UW Field House in Madison.

Fennimore opened the day with a 50–21 victory over No. 4 seed Cumberland in the D3 semifinals Saturday morning, before beating No. 3 seed Coleman 46–16 in the D3 championship dual later Saturday afternoon.

“We were on,” said Fennimore head coach Chad Steldt. “The guys came to wrestle and they attacked and attacked more intensely than any time this year. We literally broke the opponent’s will to fight. Intensity like this was built in the room pushing themselves beyond their breaking point time and time again. It is not easy, and it does not come to those with a faint of heart. 

“There is something special about Team State. To have so many fans there, and seeing them enjoying the atmosphere, seeing all the youth kids there supporting, and then to have the guys wrestle so offensively is really great to see.”

The Eagles have now won five Team State titles (2016, 2019, 2022, 2023, 2024) and finished second in D3 three times (2017, 2018, 2020) in nine Team State appearances over the past decade.

“These last 10 years have flown by with growing the program to where it is at today,” said Steldt. “It has been a consistent commitment to the kids and community to provide a better tomorrow. This could not have taken place without my coaching staff and the Fennimore Wrestling Association (FWA). Both are the pillars of success within our overall program. 

“As a staff we are so in-tune to the kids and our responsibilities as individuals that we often do not even have to talk about what needs to be done. The pace we work together is something I just marvel at. We do not waste time in our days, it’s like there is always this inner urgency among us because we know what needs to happen and where we need to be at certain times of the season. These are things that are only learned through experience and a lot of time with each other. I praise the immediate families in our lives that allow us to do what we are so good at. We won a title on Saturday  and Chris Lull, Don Zdanczewicz and I will run a lift on Monday. Riley Lull will run youth this week as well as weight lifting. Troy Wardell has already sent me the main teams for D2, and running projected line-ups. Jeff Muench and Don will be organizing the FRECO season. When we say it’s a lifestyle, we mean it. We live in this schedule so our youth and our teenagers can have a program, a culture to have pride in. It takes a commitment that is hard to explain.”

Fennimore’s recent run of success will also come with a price, as the Golden Eagles will be bumped up to Division 2 next year by the WIAA’s new competitive balance plan.

The plan, which was adopted last fall, uses a points system for postseason success over the previous three seasons to move the most successful teams over that span up one division for all WIAA team sports.

“I say what we are doing is working, to the point that the WIAA wants to move us up a division to compete against schools twice our size,” said Steldt of next year’s move to Division 2. “Many people are mad, and I think the WIAA and Mel Dow might have moved quickly on this one, but in a way it is a compliment to us as well. To us they are saying, ‘well, lets challenge you.’  It is twelve months away, so a lot can be done, a lot of improvements can be made, but we have to work, and we have to do it smarter than others. Our resources are not as deep as Luxembourg–Cascos or say Freedom’s or Wrightstown, but we have a solid team that is committed and a staff willing to do anything for the kids with a strong booster club in the FWA willing to support the kids, so let’s do it. Let’s see what D2 has in store for Fennimore.”

Championship vs Coleman

The championship dual was tight through six matches, with Fennimore holding just a 16–12 lead after a 7–2 loss at 132 pounds.

Then senior Malin Hahn came through with a 7–0 victory over Wyatt Bieber at 128 to start a string of five Fennimore wins to push the lead to 37–12 with just three matches left, to clinch the team victory.

Senior individual state champion Ian Crapp was a 18–3 tech fall winner at 144, and junior brothers Syler and Ryder Zdanczewicz followed with back-to-back major decisions at 150 and 157.

Junior two-time individual state champion Tristan Stedt clinched Fennimore’s team state title with a 26–11 major decision at 165.

Semifinal vs. Cumberland

Junior Dalton Wolf (4:47) and Gratz (3:34) opened the semifinal dual with back-to-back pins at 215 and 285 pounds to give Fennimore an early 12–0 lead.

After back-to-back losses at 106 and 113, Cade Birchman recorded a pin (3:14) at 120, followed by an 8–1 victory by Colton Tollefson, a 7–0 decision by Nolan Schoepp and a 3:39 pin by Hahn a 138 to make it 30–12.

“It’s always important to start a dual with some momentum. Dalton and Evan gave us that with two pins,” said Steldt. “Cade is just fun to watch. He came up with a big pin. We needed that. We were a little concerned going into the middle weights, but this pin really helped. 

At 144, four-time state champion Dawson Weber moved up to face Fennimore’s 144-pound state champion Ian Crapp and Weber barely survived in triple overtime, 11–10.

“We thought the match could happen, and Ian looked forward to taking out the four-time state champ,” said Steldt. “It was the match of the weekend. Everyone was anticipating it and both boys did not disappoint. 

“I really thought Ian had the point in overtime which would have given him the win, but the ref thought otherwise. Nonetheless, Ian really showed how talented he has become. Three years ago, Ian would have struggled in this match, but now as a senior, he really had the match in his hands.”

WIAA Division 3 Team State Tournament
(from Saturday, March 2 @ UW Field House, Madison)
Championship — Fennimore 46, Coleman 16
Semifinals — Fennimore 50, Cumberland 21; Coleman 36, Weyauwega–Fremont 30

WIAA Division 3 Team State Championship
No. 1 Fennimore 46,  No. 3 Coleman 16
285: Evan Gratz (F) over Kain Otto (C) Fall 3:21. 106: Parker Owens (C) over Jerrin Glasbrenner (F) Fall 3:19. 113: Pearson Owens (C) over Owen Klaas (F) Dec 6-4. 120: Cade Birchman (F) over Wyatt Van Haren (C) Maj 11-0. 126: Colton Tollefson (F) over Conner Markiewicz (C) Fall 1:36.  132: Chase Gruber (C) over Nolan Schoepp (F) Dec 7-2. 138: Malin Hahn (F) over Wyatt Bieber (C) Dec 7-0. 144: Ian Crapp (F) over Brady Gross (C) TF 18-3. 150: Syler Zdanczewicz (F) over Cameron Kimmell (C) Maj 10-2. 157: Ryder Zdanczewicz (F) over Cole Berth (C) Maj 8-0. 165: Tristan Steldt (F) over Isaiah Nowak (C) TF 26-11. 175: Micah Kuchta (C) over Nathan Blaschke (F) Maj 13-5. 190: Wyatt Ahnen (F) over West Bieber (C) Fall 5:06. 215: Dalton Wolf (F) over Devin Otto (C) Dec 10-8.

WIAA Division 3 Team State Semifinal
No. 1 Fennimore 50, No. 4 Cumberland 21
215: Dalton Wolf (F) over Brody Gilbertson (C) Fall 4:47. 285: Evan Gratz (F) over Jack Chafer (C) Fall 3:34.106: Braden Johnson (C) over Jerrin Glasbrenner (F) Fall 5:35. 113: Caleb Hile (C) over Owen Klaas (F) Fall 0:14. 120: Cade Birchman (F) over Noah Hile (C) Fall 3:14 126: Colton Tollefson (F) over Onesimus West (C) Dec 8-1. 132: Nolan Schoepp (F) over Boaz West (C) Dec 7-0. 138: Malin Hahn (F) over Nelson Vasquez (C) Fall 3:39. 144: Dawson Johnson (C) over Ian Crapp (F) TB-1 11-10. 150: Syler Zdanczewicz (F) over Logan Peterson (C) Maj 10-1. 157: Ryder Zdanczewicz (F) over Harrison Ruppel (C) Maj 17-8. 165: Tristan Steldt (F) over Jack Owens (C) Fall 1:49. 175: DauTre Allen (C) over Carsen French (F) Fall 4:26 190: Wyatt Ahnen (F) over Gabe Erickson (C) Fall 1:02.