CASHTON — Hillsboro sophomore Jason Griffiths couldn’t fight back the tears of joy.
Moments after scoring an overtime takedown against North Crawford/Seneca’s Tyler Finnell to win the 113-pound conference title at Saturday’s Scenic Ridge and Rivers Conference tournament, Griffiths was overcome with emotion as his hand was raised in victory.
Griffths became Hillsboro’s first individual conference champion since Spencer Treu in 2013.
“Jason has wrestled Finnell two or three times this season and lost to him each time,” said Hillsboro head coach Snapper Verbsky. “But he stepped up and beat him for the conference title. Jason been working very hard this season and that was his goal to win the conference title. We are very proud of him.”
Griffiths advanced to Saturday’s championship round with a quarterfinal bye and a semifinal pin of New Lisbon’s Dalton Lee.
Griffiths is now 24–9 on the season heading into Saturday’s WIAA Division 3 Hillsboro regional. The top two finishers at each weight class will advance to the D3 Mineral Point sectional, that will be held Saturday, Feb. 20.
A year ago, Griffiths finished third at conference and was the only Hillsboro wrestler to qualify for sectionals.
“Our immediately goal is sectionals,” added Verbsky. “He made it there last year and we want to make sure we repeat that again. Anything on top of that is bonus. Sectionals at Mineral Point is never easy.”
Junior Mitchell Morris (11–8) joined Griffiths in Saturday’s finals, and finished second after suffering a first-period pin against Cashton’s Ethan Leis (26–10) in the 126-pound title match.
“Leis is a pretty good wrestler, and we knew going in that was going to be an extremely tough match,” said Verbsky.
“Mitchell had his goals set of reaching the finals at conference, and that’s what he did.”
Morris reached the finals with a third-period pin of New Lisbon’s Isaac LaBudda (22–12). Morris controlled the match before recording the fall at 5:49.
“Mitchell beat LaBudda at our dual with New Lisbon, but he had lost to him twice earlier this year, so Saturday’s semifinal was sort of a grudge match,” said Verbsky.
Sophomore Jacob Urban, another of Hillsboro’s talented crop of 10th graders, finished third at 170 pounds.
Urban (25–9) pinned Brookwood’s Robert Cale in the quarterfinals before suffering a 6–1 setback against Jaden Schmitz (33–8) of Cashton.
Urban bounced back with a 9–3 decision over Pec/Argyle’s Owen Aerts in the third-place match.
“We felt it would have been quite an upset to beat Schmitz,” said Verbsky. “Jacob wanted to finish top three. He came back, was sound in the third-place match and led the whole way.”
Senior Jacob Benish (17–10) placed fourth at 195 after a first-round bye and back-to-back losses. Cashton’s Devon Hall defeated Benish 10–5 in the third-place match.
Sophomore Dakota Wells (13–14) also finished fourth at 120 pounds, as did freshman (12–14) Yobani Mora at 132.
Hillsboro finished fifth out of 12 teams — up once place from a year ago — with 88 points.
Cashton crowned five champions, had four runner-ups and scored 231.5 points to win this year’s conference tournament title.
Regular season SBC duals champion New Lisbon finished a distant second with 170 points. Brookwood was third with 108, and Ithaca/Weston came in fourth with 98.5 points.
“We had set a goal of finishing in the top half of the conference,” said Verbsky. “We would have like to finish in that fourth spot, but overall we had a good day. Our program is going in the right direction.”