Janesville Craig’s wrestlers knew the odds were stacked against them.
Stoughton High’s program carried with it the No. 1 ranking in the state and a No. 10 ranking in the nation heading into Tuesday’s WIAA Division 1 team sectional dual.
Stoughton’s 59-9 victory was not a surprise, but the Cougars came away feeling like they laid a foundation for future years after winning their first regional title since 1975 to earn their spot against the Vikings.
“I look at it as a point for us to improve,” said Craig senior Keeanu Benton, the state’s No. 1-ranked D1 wrestler at 285 pounds who earned a first-period pin in his match. “We’ve seen that we can make it to this point.
“Our team has improved so much these past four years. I’m proud of the guys, and I just want to see them improve even more when I’m off to college.
“Hopefully at some point they will win a team sectional.”
Benton was one of two match-winners for the Cougars.
Junior Mayson MacLennan, ranked 12th at 126 pounds, won by 16-14 sudden victory in the second match of the night. He trailed 14-13 in the third period but scored on a late escape to force overtime, where he earned a takedown 33 seconds in.
“I haven’t had one (a six-minute match) in a while,” MacLennan said. “I just had to finish it out.
“It was just a good feeling to help put our program on the map.”
Craig trailed just 4-3 at that point, but Stoughton rattled off three consecutive pins to seize control.
At 160 pounds, Cougars junior Marshall Getchell gave 11th-ranked Cade Spilde all he could handle. Getchell fell behind 6-1 in the first period but rallied for a 12-12 tie in the third before falling 14-13.
“He was ranked fourth a week ago, so I knew what I was getting myself into,” Getchell said. “I wanted to just go in and wrestle with all my heart.
Sophomore Brady Schenk lost a close 5-2 decision at 220 pounds leading up to Benton’s victory that got the Cougars within a 49-9 margin.
“I think it meant a lot for us,” Getchell said. “We hadn’t won a regional in a long time. It was a great honor to be here and have a chance to wrestle the No. 1 team. Hopefully it’s a stepping stone for us, for sure.”
Craig will wrestle in the area’s Division 1 sectional at Elkhorn on Saturday, with the top two finishers in each weight class advancing to the state tournament.
STOUGHTON 59, CRAIG 9
106—Ethan Peterson (S) maj. dec. Joey Coulter, 11-3. 113—Nicolar Rivera (S) pinned Juan Armas, 4:22. 120—Dante Steinmetz (S) maj. dec. Julian Garcia, 9-1. 126—Mayson MacLennan (C) by sudden victory over Trenton Dow, 16-14. 132—Ethan Devore (S) pinned Joey Bellomo, 5:55. 138—Braeden Whitehead (S) pinned Cody Johnson, 1:57. 145—Hunter Lewis (S) pinned Aiden Romack, 2:23.
152—Gavin Model (S) tech. fall Davon Serrano, 15-0. 160—Cade Spilde (S) dec. Marshall Getchell, 14-13. 170—Brandt Spilde (S) pinned Grant Mullen, 3:21. 182—Rudy Detweiler (S) maj. dec. Mitchell Schumann, 11-3. 195—Brooks Empey (S) pinned Braden Hopkins, 0:23. 220—Drew Pasold (S) dec. Brady Schenk, 5-2. 285—Keeanu Benton (C) pinned Jake Lenz, 1:08.
Match started at 120