Milton has been a hotbed for wrestling for years.
UW-Stevens Point will give Milton and other area wrestling fans a jump-start to the 2019-20 season Wednesday night.
The Pointers will travel 140 miles to conduct their intrasquad match starting at 6 p.m. in the Milton High gymnasium.
Now why would a college wrestling team want to make a two-hour-plus trip in a bus to hold their practice match?
Pointers coach Johnny Johnson says a travel day has been part of the Pointers’ intrasquad plans for several seasons.
The Pointers have taken their preseason tour to Kimberly, Pulaski, Oshkosh and last season visited the big town of Princeton.
This year, it’s Milton.
“It’s an area we haven’t been to yet,” said Johnson, who has spent 22 seasons as the Pointers head coach. “We try to get college wrestling out there. I know Madison and Whitewater are close to Milton, but sometimes when you bring the product to them, people are more likely to come and watch.”
Johnson also picks high schools that have provided him wrestlers.
In this case, Jerry Lipke will get to return to a gymnasium where he registered many of his more than 100 victories while a Red Hawks wrestler.
Lipke, the son of Thomas and Sara, went 22-16 in the 197-pound weight class as a freshman last season for Johnson and the Pointers.
“He finished fifth in our region, so we have pretty high expectations for him this year,” Johnson said.
Between Lipke and the popularity of wrestling in the area, Johnson hopes the event attracts fans who want to get their first taste of the sport this season.
“Hopefully we’ll get a gym full of people that haven’t experienced a college match before,” Johnson said. “It is an area that likes and understands wrestling, so that’s part of it, as well.”
Pointers first WIAC school to offer women’s wrestling
Fans that attend Wednesday’s event will see three to four women’s matches.
UW-Stevens Point is the first Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference school to offer women’s wrestling, and this is the initial season.
Johnson will help coach that program, as well, but assistant men’s coach Jake Wozniak will be the primary coach.
While college women’s wrestling is gaining popularity, there are not many programs to compete against.
“We have to travel a little bit further to get to competition,” Johnson said. “This is our first season. We announced we were going to add it last November, and since then there have been more than 20 colleges that have added it.
“The NCAA will vote in January to determine whether women’s wrestling will become an official sport,” Johnson said.
Johnson said there are approximately 60 schools nationwide that offer women’s wrestling, with about half of those NCAA programs.
Lakeland College in Sheboygan has a program, and Carthage College is adding both men’s and women’s wrestling this season, Johnson said.
While some of the women wrestlers are still noncommittal about sticking with the team, Johnson said there are 9-11 participating in practices. He hopes to double that number next season.
Former Brodhead High great inducted into UW-Oshkosh Hall of Fame
Ronessa (Stampfli) Lund went from Brodhead High to the UW-Oshkosh softball team, where she went 75-27 with 1,019 strikeouts, 74 complete games and 30 shutouts in four seasons for the Titans.
Those numbers helped her earned a spot in the UW-Oshkosh Hall of Fame on Oct. 13.
Lund earned WIAC Pitcher of the Year honors as a freshman in 2005 and as a junior in 2007 and was co-Pitcher of the Year in 2006 and 2008.
She still tops the WIAC in career strikeouts, is second in all-time innings pitched, victories and shutouts, and is third in ERA.
Lund now lives in Hortonville and is in her ninth year as an elementary art teacher in the Clintonville School District.
Tom Miller is a sports writer/page designer for The Gazette. Email him at email@example.com.