Janesville Craig’s wrestling team is a Big Eight Conference champion after all.
After coming up short in their bid to win the Big Eight dual-meet title, the Cougars won the conference tournament crown Saturday.
Thanks to four individual titles, Craig finished with 228 points. Sun Prairie was second with 221 and Middleton third with 220.
“Finally,” said Craig head coach Mark Mullen, who had seen his team finish second at the Big Eight meet several times in the past eight years. “We’ve wanted some revenge since we lost that dual meet to Sun Prairie.
“Today, nothing was easy. It was really close, and we were fortunate to have 13 of 14 weight classes place for us.”
It was Craig’s first Big Eight tournament title since 2006.
Mayson Maclennan started the victory parade for Craig. The sophomore won the 113-pound title with a pin in the championship match.
Maclennan is now 28-10 on the season.
The Cougars got back-to-back titles from seniors Nate Ellis and Ethan Smith. Ellis (37-6) won by decision in the title bout at 132, while Smith (21-3) also won by decision in the championship match at 138.
Keeanu Benton clinched the team title by winning at 285. The junior, who is now an impressive 36-1, pinned Ortez Lockett of Middleton in the first period in the championship match.
“It was pretty nice to have Keeanu as the ace in the hole as it came down to the end,” Mullen said. “We just had to make sure it was close enough that he could make the difference.”
The conference titles were the second in a row for Ellis, Smith and Benton.
Craig’s Juan Armas and Marshall Getchell both finished second.
“There were a whole bunch of other wrestlers who really contributed to get it done. As coaches, we stressed all week how important it was to wrestle for the team, and that was the difference in the tournament,” Mullen said. “Juan just got up to varsity full-time last week, and he’s been really impressive. And we had quite a few freshmen in our lineup, so that bodes well.”
Janesville Parker, which was sixth overall, got a third-place finish from Brett Perkins at 126.
Craig’s Joe Smith was third at 152.
The city teams compete in the WIAA Division 1 Elkhorn Regional next Saturday.
Big Eight Conference Meet
Janesville Craig 228, Sun Prairie 221, Middleton 220, Madison La Follette 149, Beloit Memorial 109, Janesville Parker 100, Madison West 85.5, Madison East 83, Madison Memorial 81, Verona 78.5
Title and third-place matches
106—Title: Guillermo Tellez (MM) pinned Jack Jensen (ML) 1:54; Third: Yanzong Xiong (ME) pinned Lesley Neisius (Mid) 5:59
113—Title: Mayson Maclennan (JC) pinned Paxton Yang (MW) 5:47; Third: Richard Quintana (SP) pinned Karim Said (Mid) 3:19
120—Title: Edward Pazdziora (ML) dec. Juan Armas (JC) 15-10; Third: Jonathan Herbst (V) major dec. over Juan Jimenez (SP) 10-2
126—Title: Kyle Smith (ML) dec. Robert Cooper (MW) 6-1; Third: Brett Perkins (JP) major dec. over Joey Bellomo (JC) 14-5
132—Title: Nate Ellis (JC) dec. Tyler Nelson (SP) 4-0; Third: Nathan Feller (Ver) pinned Hernan Carranza (Mid) 2:44
138—Title: Ethan Smith (JC) dec. Joe Hoffman (Mid) 7-2; Third: Wyatt Thiel (SP) pinned Dakari Clay (ME) 4:50
145—Title: Drew Scharenbrock (SP) pinned Kaden Reetz (MM) 2:49; Third: Jeremiah Huff (Mid) major dec. over Aiden Romack (JC) 18-4
152—Title: Kevin Meicher (Mid) pinned Karson Sutton (SP) 1:21; Third: Joe Smith (JC) dec. Fernando Badillo (BM) 14-7
160—Title: Dylan Lawinger (ML) pinned Marshall Getchell (JC) 4:50; Third: Remington Lockwood (Mid) major dec. over Harrison Schreiber (MW) 17-8
170—Title: Jacob Hendrix (ML) dec. Jack Heralsdson (SP) 7-1; Third: Armon Myadze (ME) dec. Devin Jackson (Mid) 8-1
182—Title: Brendan Shannon (SP) pinned Henry Lemkuil (ME) 4:09; Third:Elliot Zanon (Mid) dec. Tyler Sireci (BM) 5-4
195—Title: Linzell Burks (BM) dec. Dion Huff (Mid) 8-4; Third: Alex Haug (SP) major dec. over Juan Avila (MW) 11-2
220—Title: Mason Smith (SP) dec. Gavin Adler (Mid) 6-3; Third: Michael Wolfe (ML) pinned Tre Smith (JP) 3:44
285—Title: Keeanu Benton (JC) pinned Ortez Lockett (Mid) 1:27; Third: Ryan Caudle (BM) pinned Patrick McDonald (MM) 3:09