Schmoldt: Milton, Stoughton will take storied rivalry to Field House
Sometimes it pays to be quick with a mouse and a keyboard.
Milton wrestling coach Pat Jauch was included in an email to high school coaches around the state, wondering if any programs would be interested in scheduling one of their dual matches to take place prior to a University of Wisconsin match at the UW Fieldhouse.
Jauch jumped at the opportunity.
“I would be surprised if it was more than a minute,” Jauch said this week when asked how long it took him to reply. “I said, ‘We’re in.’”
Stoughton’s coaches replied quickly, too. And about a day later, Jauch received an email back congratulating his program for being chosen to wrestle Stoughton on Dec. 7.
Thus, another chapter in one of the most heated high school wrestling rivalries in the state will be written at 5 p.m. that night. It will be a prelude to UW’s match against Maryland at 8 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.
The opportunity also includes the Badgers visiting both Stoughton and Milton for practices that are open to the public, as well as UW honoring a longtime head coach from each school.
“I didn’t care who it was, but I’m glad it’s them (Stoughton),” Jauch said. “It’s great for wrestling.”
That seems to be the idea for Barry Davis and the University of Wisconsin program.
Per NCAA rules, Davis cannot talk about high school wrestling or the event. But between the Milton-Stoughton dual and the fact that the Badgers will wrestle UW-Whitewater in a regular-season dual at Whitewater on Dec. 9, the UW program is committed to growing the sport while showcasing its program around the state.
“We’re reaching out to the state and taking things off campus to different communities ... to promote our athletes, promote University of Wisconsin wrestling,” Davis said. “People get a chance to see our athletes that don’t normally get to see them.
“It’s all about growing the sport in the state of Wisconsin.”
Davis and the Badgers will hold a practice at 4 p.m. Monday at Milton Middle School that is open to the public. Young wrestlers, coaches and fans will get a chance to see what a typical college practice is like.
“I’ve taken quite a few kids to their camp, so I do have kids on my team that have experienced a college wrestling room and a practice, but a lot of my JV guys and brand new guys, they’ve never seen the intensity of a Division I wrestling program,” Jauch said. “That’s going to be fun for them and give them a good perspective.”
Then, on Dec. 7 those wrestlers will get another experience to remember at the Field House. They’ll get to wrestle in a historic UW venue and then will see the same Badgers team they watched practice compete in a conference dual.
For the matchup against Maryland, the Badgers will continue honoring the storied Milton-Stoughton rivalry. Bob Johnson, who coached Milton’s varsity program for 13 years, and Beverly Pieper—wife of LaVerne, a legendary Stoughton coach who helped lead Vikings wrestlers to seven state team titles—will be honorary coaches. LaVerne Pieper passed away Oct. 1.
“It’s a great atmosphere, going to the old Field House,” Johnson said. “We hope it brings a lot of people not only for that (high school) dual but to see a good Wisconsin wrestling team on the mat this year. They’ve got high hopes of having a great season.”
If all goes well, Jauch predicts future doubleheaders that include the Badgers and other high school programs around the state.
For this year, though, it’s all about adding another bit of lore to a longtime rivalry.
“It goes back to years ago when I was coaching; that’s kind of when the whole team aspect started, and that’s when the Stoughton-Milton match became a huge match every year,” Johnson said. “It hasn’t changed. That tradition carries on.”