State a learning experience for Blue Devils
MADISON—The Evansville/Albany wrestling team cherished every moment of its first-ever trip to the University of Wisconsin Fieldhouse.
The Blue Devils also caught a glimpse of what they hope their program’s future looks like.
Division 2 powerhouse Ellsworth won 12 of 14 matches on Saturday, topping Evansville/Albany 65-6 in a WIAA state team wrestling semifinal dual. The Panthers, making their ninth straight trip to state, went on to beat Pewaukee for the championship, its sixth overall and fourth in the last seven years.
“There is always another level,” Blue Devils coach Rob Kostroun said. “This was our first time here, and we’re definitely not going to go home and not learn lessons.
“They’re No. 1 for a reason. They put 12 kids into the individual tournament. They’re very well-coached, they have a long history and tradition, and they have great fans. It was a privilege to compete with them.”
Ellsworth won nine bouts by pinfall, including two from state champions Jens Lantz—in the first match of the day at 126 pounds—and Gable Frandson.
Evansville/Albany earned a pair of decisions.
Sophomore Jordan Meyer, who was the runner-up in Division 2 at 132 pounds at the individual state meet, claimed a 9-2 victory at 132 pounds. And junior Dustin Bjugstad won, 2-0, at 220 pounds.
“It was really cool being the first team up here from Evansville,” Meyer said. “We were just trying to enjoy the experience.
“I think we wrestled well against some of the top kids in the state. We’ll have most of us back next year, so we’re hoping to get back here and maybe make some improvements.”
There were just three seniors on the Evansville/Albany team that went 21-4 in dual meets this year.
The Blue Devils lost during the regular season to Division 1 teams Elkhorn and Stoughton, as well as Lodi. They avenged that loss to Lodi with a victory in the sectional semifinals and beat West Salem/Bangor to make the program’s first trip to the state team meet.
Evansville/Albany will return all three of its individual state qualifiers—Meyer, Bjugstad and 170-pounder Tyler Grant—as it hopes to continue to build its program into a perennial power like the one it faced on the mat on Saturday.
“We’re going to learn and educate ourselves, and we’re going to get better and hopefully be back here again to wrestle on this stage,” Kostroun said. “I know the season just got over, but I’m already excited to start working for next year.
“They got here because they worked with each other and pushed each other, and I’m real proud of them.”
ELLSWORTH 65 EVANSVILLE/ALBANY 6
126—Jens Lantz (Ell) pinned Chase Katzenmeyer, 3:22. 132—Jordan Meyer (EA) dec. Brad Cain, 9-2. 138—Tristen Mueller (Ell) pinned Nathan Vickery, 1:25. 145—Jacob Fuchs (Ell) dec. Hayden Milz, 5-3. 152—Josh Hines (Ell) maj. dec. Nick Lehman, 14-6. 160—Gable Frandson (Ell) pinned Jake Carpenter, 3:53. 170—Logan Kemmerer (Ell) maj. dec. Tyler Grant, 16-5.
182—Brandon VanderMarliere (Ell) pinned Lincoln Rosonke, 2:55. 195—Brock Steldt (Ell) pinned Lucius Rinehart, 1:36. 220—Dustin Bjugstad (EA) dec. Kenny Stowe, 2-0. 285—Brody Kemmerer (Ell) pinned Ryan Meehan, 1:00. 106—Andrew Swanson (Ell) pinned Taylor Milz, 1:14. 113—Gabe Mancino (Ell) pinned Eric Sasse, 0:20. 120—Anders Lantz (Ell) pinned Brandon Robinson, 5:50.