Janesville73°

Comets win regional title

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Mike Johnson/Special to the Gazette
February 14, 2009
— They were every where.

No matter which mat you chose to watch during the placement round of Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 wrestling regional at Bradford, you couldn’t avoid seeing a wrestler from Delavan-Darien High.


On the center mat wrestling for the championship. On one side of center wrestling in the third-place match. On the other side of center competing in the fifth-place match.


Whatever the placement match, whatever the weight class, the Comets pretty much had it all covered.


Sending all 14 of its wrestlers to the placement round, Delavan-Darien racked up 222 points to win the regional and secure a spot in the team sectional.


After winning their first-ever Southern Lakes Conference title last Saturday, the Comets now head to Stoughton on Tuesday with a chance to secure their first-ever trip to team state. It will be a dual-meet format.


The last time the Comets advanced to the team sectional, in 2006, they were defeated by Stoughton.


“They did absolutely everything I ever wanted,” Delavan-Darien coach Craig Lodahl said of Saturday’s performance. “I can’t say enough about the kids that I’ve got, the character they have, and the class that they have.”


Milton came up just shy of Delavan-Darien with 212.5 points, while Kenosha Tremper was a distant third with 172.5. Lake Geneva Badger, meanwhile, finished seventh with 97.5.


The Red Hawks advanced to team state last season, but on this day Milton co-coach Pat Jauch could only tip his hat to Delavan-Darien.


“(We) put a good effort in, so I have no excuses whatsoever,” he said. “Do I think we should’ve won the tournament? Yeah. But there are no could-haves and should-haves. Either you did it, or you didn’t. Today we didn’t do it, so I congratulate (Delavan-Darien) and wish them good luck against Stoughton.”


Delavan-Darien sent a whopping eight wrestlers to first-place matches, coming out with titles from freshman Lukus Dittner at 103 pounds and senior Ben Lodahl, a returning state qualifier, at 160. While the Comets’ team victory was a product of many matches, Dittner’s 103-pound title match stood out in particular.


Leading Milton by 29.5 points heading into the placement round, Dittner—who wrestled at 112 all season until Saturday—kicked off the finals against the Red Hawks’ John Wells, a formidable opponent coming off a Badger Conference title at 103 last weekend.


Dittner wrestled tough, however, letting out an emphatic fist pump after his 7-5 win gave the Comets a huge boost.


“Milton’s in second place, we’re in first, so I figured if I beat him, we could take it,” Dittner said after the match.


The Red Hawks had three individual champions in senior Shaun O’Neill at 140, senior Nick Karleski at 145 and junior James Miller, a returning state qualifier, at 189.


Karleski scored a takedown with less than 5 seconds left in the match to score an electrifying 5-4 win over Delavan-Darien’s John Benzon in the most exciting match of the finals.


Badger had one champion in John Leibforth, who ran his record to 42-1 this season, at 130.


The top four finishers in each weight class advance to individual sectionals next Saturday. Milton had 14 wrestlers advance, Delavan-Darien had 11 and Badger had four.



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