MADISON — The WIAA Individual State Wrestling Tournament is where dreams are both realized and fade away often simultaneously.
Luke Nowak’s bid to become Iowa–Grant’s third two-time state champion ended with a heart-breaking 5–4 loss to Boyceville’s Garrett Joles in Friday’s night’s semifinal round.
Joles (31–5), who went on to lose Saturday’s championship match to undefeated Devin Lemanski (41–0) by technical fall, scored a takedown early in the third period to take a 5–3 lead. Nowak got to his feet and escaped, but Joles held on in the final minute for the one-point win.
“The Boyceville kid had a great game plan by slowing Luke down on their feet,” said Iowa–Grant/Highland head coach Ryan Allen. “Luke really couldn’t get to his offense.”
Nowak (46–5) bounced back from Friday’s disappointment to win back-to-back matches Saturday to finish third at 170 pounds, a year after winning the Division 3 state title at 160.
He scored an 11–2 major decision over Unity’s Tevin Anderson (34–10) in the consolation semis, then won a rematch with Bonduel’s Mitch Sokolski, 6–3, in the third-place match.
After a first-round bye Thursday night Nowak beat Sokolski (41–12) in a quarterfinal match early Friday afternoon. Nowak finished his career with a record of 151–41.
“Besides the takedown in the semis, I don’t think Luke gave up an offensive point all weekend,” said Allen. “I was very happy with the way Luke came back after such a devastating loss. He really came out on Saturday and showed everyone how good he really is. It’s very hard to do that, especially after winning a title as junior. Luke has had an unbelievable high school wrestling career. He now has a gold and a bronze medal at state and also has compiled 151 wins. He will surely be missed.”
Besides Nowak, three other Panthers got their first taste of the state tournament.
Freshman Max Maylor (43–12) went 2–3 and placed sixth at 126 pounds.
Senior Kyle Soderstrom lost back-to-back matches after a first-round bye and did not place at 220.
Freshman Sawyer Sarbacker (33–13) lost his first-round match Thursday night at 106 and was eliminated from the tournament.
Maylor opened his first state tournament with a 4–1 win over Cumberland’s Trey Lundequam. After a 15–1 loss to eventual champion Mason Kauffman (41–0) of Stratford Friday morning, Maylor then rallied to defeat Oakfield’s Ross Ellison 7–5 by scoring four points in the final eight seconds to advance to Saturday.
Maylor dropped back-to-back matches, but still reached the medal podium, placing sixth.
“Max did a great job at state,” said Allen. “Placing as a freshman is not an easy thing to do. He won a very big match Saturday morning that got him to the placing rounds by scoring four points with eight seconds left. In that match Max showed that he has a lot of fight in him and he will be very fun to watch wrestle the next three years.”
Soderstrom was defeated by Edgar’s Wesley Dittman (35–6), 5–2 in the quarterfinals, then suffered a pin to Coleman’s C.J. Pillath in Friday’s consolation round. Pillath and Dittman went on to place third and fourth respectively at 220.
“Kyle was in a tough spot in the bracket,” explained Allen. “I think he would have been able to place had the brackets been different, but that’s just how it goes sometimes. Kyle was still a conference, regional, and sectional champ and has a lot to be proud of. He will also be missed next year.”
Soderstrom went 69–27 over the last two years after earning a spot in the Panthers’ varsity lineup.
“I thought it was a good season,” said Allen. “We were second at a very tough regional, had four kids make it to state, and brought home two medals. I believe if we can get a couple more kids to come out we will be just as tough if not tougher next year.”
Shullsburg 52, Potosi 45
(from Thursday, Feb. 26 @ Potosi)
Shullsburg 8 17 13 14 — 52
Potosi 12 10 11 12 — 45
Shullsburg (20–2, 9–1) — Lance Lierman 8, Bretty Matye 13, Hunter Matye 6, Brant Gille 5, Noah Wand 7, Brock Knautz 4, Joey Meyer 8. Totals — 21 7-12 52.
Potosi (15–7, 10–2) — Riley Hawes 6, Kyle Kaiser 7, Brent Curtis 12, Jake Langkamp 2, Dan Post 5, Nate Friederick 13. Totals — 20 2-7 45.
3-point goals — S: 3 (B. Matye 2, Wand 1); P: 3 (Hawes 2, Kaiser 1). Team fouls — S: 7; P: 14. Fouled out — none.