SPASH looks to contend for multiple State Titles this weekend
For the second year in a row, the Stevens Point Area Senior
High School (SPASH) wrestling team will send a school-record five wrestlers to
the WIAA Division 1 Individual State Tournament.
Juniors Brady and Dylan Koontz, senior Fritz Schierl and
senior Nate Engle each won an Individual Title at the D.C. Everest Sectional
Saturday, Feb. 20, while sophomore Chance Bailey finished second, to advance to
the WIAA Division 1 Individual State Tournament at the Kohl Center
Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 25-27.
“It’s really good for our program to get five guys down
there,” said first-year SPASH wrestling head coach Rob King. “At this point in
the season, everyone’s a good wrestler, and anybody can win on any given day.
“So we know that we need to show up Thursday, and it’s all business until
Saturday night,” he said.
Brady Koontz, the top-ranked wrestler in Division 1 at 106
pounds, won by a pin in 50 seconds in the opening round at Sectionals and by an
11-3 major decision in the semifinals, before he pinned 14th-ranked sophomore
Mitchell Anderson of Hudson (35-9) in 4:33 in the finals to win the Sectional
Title and improve to 39-1 on the season.
“I wrestled well in the finals, and if I do that at
state, I should have a better chance at winning,” said Brady Koontz, who placed
sixth at state last year at 106. “I want to redeem myself from last year, and
I’m looking for a State Championship this year.”
“Brady’s on a roll right now,” said King. “I wish he would
have had a little more competition the last couple of weeks, unfortunately our
conference at the lighter weight hasn’t been a strong point, but he does
have a pretty solid practice partner (twin brother Dylan) that he gets to go
with every day.
“And with those two working together, they know they need
each other to accomplish their goals,” he said.
Dylan Koontz entered the Sectional Saturday as the
second-ranked wrestler in Division 1 at 113 and won by a pin in and by a 13-4 major decision to
advance to the Sectional Finals and improve to 39-0 on the season.
That set up a showdown with another unbeaten wrestler in fourth-ranked
sophomore Mason Phillips of Eau Claire North, who entered the match with a 45-0
record, and built a 9-3 lead over Dylan Koontz heading into the third period.
“I knew I was still in the match, because I’m still on the
mat,” said Dylan Koontz. “So I just had to keep my composure and wrestle the
whole six minutes.”
Dylan Koontz followed with a two-point takedown, then intentionally
allowed Phillips to escape for one point, before he scored another takedown and
again intentionally allowed Phillips to escape.
That pulled Dylan Koontz to within 11-7 with under 30
seconds to go in the match, when he threw Phillips to his back for a two-point
takedown and a three-point near-fall to record a 12-11 victory and win the
“It was incredible,” said Dylan Koontz, who took over this
week as the top-ranked wrestler in Division 1 at 113, with Phillips right
behind at No. 2. “I knew I just had to keep coming at him, and I’d come off
with the points to win.”
“The crowd loved it, we loved it, it was awesome,” said
King. “It was probably the highlight match of the tournament that everyone was
most excited for.
“And it’s good to be able to, not just come back, but to
come back against a kid of that caliber,” he said. “I’m hoping to see a rematch
of that match Saturday night (in the State Championship).”
Bailey, the 11th-ranked wrestler in Division 1 at 126, won
7-1 and 5-1 to advance to the Sectional Final, where he was unable to hold a
late lead in regulation and fell to 10th-ranked sophomore Thomas Severson of
D.C. Everest (33-10) 7-5 in overtime.
However, he came back with an 18-9 win by major decision
over senior Casey Hedrington of Chippewa
Falls (33-13) to earn his
second consecutive trip to state.
“I won Regionals and Conference, and I felt like the
competition was about the same at Sectionals and I had the same chance of
winning that,” said Bailey. “And to go out there and wrestle a kid I’ve already
beat twice this year and lose to him was pretty frustrating.
“But it felt good to come back and end up going to state,”
“He had a good a lead, just dominated for a while, and then
I think ried to coast a little bit,” said King of the loss to Severson.
“But to be able to fight back against a kid he lost to his last time around
(Hedrington) was pretty big.”
Schierl, the second-ranked wrestler in Division 1 at 160,
carried a 37-0 record into the Sectional and continued his dominating run this
season by winning by pin in 1:37 and by technical fall in the semifinals,
before he won 7-1 over sixth-ranked junior Dylan White of D.C. Everest (41-10)
in the finals to claim the Sectional Title and advance to state for the third
year in a row.
“You have to prove yourself every time you go out there,”
said Schierl, who placed fourth at state as a sophomore at 138. “It restarts,
rankings don’t matter, records don’t matter, it matters what you do on that
“At Sectionals, I felt like I wrestled well, and I’m looking
forward to transitioning that into the State Tournament,” he said.
“Fritz has really just been taking it to a whole other
level,” said King. “He’s not just winning; he’s only had one or two matches
this year where he hasn’t gotten a major decision, tech fall or a pin.
“So we’re obviously very excited about where he’s at and
what he can accomplish here in the next week,” he said.
Seventh-ranked Engle was in the 195-pound weight class at
Sectionals that featured five wrestlers ranked in Division 1, and he opened by
pinning then-12th-ranked senior Austen Jahnke of Eau Claire Memorial (27-6) in
3:24 and eighth-ranked senior Matthew Williamson of River Falls (38-7) in 1:17
in the semifinals.
Engle (25-1) followed with a 6-4 win over then-sixth-ranked
senior Caleb Neumann of New Richmond (29-7) to win the Sectional Title and
advance to state for the first time.
“It was a moment of disbelief and just pure joy,” said
Engle. “I had a lot of family there coming to watch me, and they just had
super-high hopes for me, and to make them proud and to make myself proud and my
coaches and my city proud, it just was an unreal feeling.
“I don’t think I’ve ever wrestled that well in my life
before, and to do that against some really good kids, it just is a huge
confidence-boost for me going into the State Tournament,” he said. “I’ve been
going up to this (wrestling) room since I was six years old, and to leave this
room as a State Qualifier is just a very good feeling.”
“That Sectional was loaded at that weight, and it was not
just winning matches, but he dominated that weight class,” said King. “And I’m
very excited about him in this (State) Tournament.
“He’s very much under the radar,” he said. “His one loss was
a medical forfeit that I didn’t let him wrestle that night (against Wausau
West), he wanted to but he didn’t even step on the mat. So he’s won every match
that he’s wrestled this year.”
Brady Koontz is set to open at state against 13th-ranked freshman
Jake Schulte of Mukwonago (39-6) in the first round at 106 Thursday afternoon,
with the winner to face either fourth-ranked senior Zack Szohr of Germantown
(43-2) or 11th-ranked freshman Hunter Lewis of Stoughton (38-14) in the State
Quarterfinals Thursday evening.
State Semifinal opponents
Friday night include fifth-ranked freshman Eric Barnett of Hortonville (42-2), sixth-ranked
junior Francesco Schiro of Madison LaFollette (46-1) or seventh-ranked
sophomore Mason French of Kenosha Tremper (50-1), with second-ranked Dalton
Shea of Milton (44-5) and third-ranked freshman Jon Bailey of Sparta (40-4) in the other half of the
“I’ll have a tough match in the quarters,” said Brady
Koontz, who beat Szohr 5-4 in the finals at Oshkosh on the Water Classic in December.
“They could’ve probably split us up a bit better, but I can’t really change
that now, so I’ve just got to go down and wrestle.
“The top goal is definitely to win (state), and anything
short of that, I know I probably could’ve worked harder,” he said. “So I’m just
going to keep thinking about winning.”
Dylan Koontz (40-0) will face 16th-ranked sophomore Cooper
Hunt of Mequon Homestead (17-9) Thursday, with the winner to take on either eighth-ranked
junior Mitch Landgraf of Oak Creek
(43-2) or 14th-ranked sophomore Sam Winski of Waterford (39-13) in the quarterfinals.
Fifth-ranked junior Brandon Klein of Stoughton (49-3), last
year’s Division 1 State Champion at 106, and seventh-ranked sophomore Caleb
Ziebell of Slinger (45-4) are potential opponents in the semifinals at 113,
with second-ranked Phillips (45-1), third-ranked sophomore Aaron Schulist of
Mukwonago (35-4) and fourth-ranked sophomore Benji Peak of Elkhorn (29-3) in
the bottom half of the bracket.
“I have a pretty good draw, but I just have to focus on my
next match and I can’t look ahead,” said Dylan Koontz, who placed fifth at state
at 113 last year. “I definitely want to be a State Champion this year, staying
Bailey will open at state against third-ranked senior
Patrick Spray of Wisconsin Rapids
(44-3), with the winner to take on either 14th-ranked senior Isaiah Robinson of
Oak Creek (30-11) or 16th-ranked junior Christian Lamon of Sparta (23-10) in the second round.
Among the potential opponents in the State Semifinals would
be top-ranked senior and returning 126 State Champion Justin Folley of
Wauwatosa West/East (45-1) or second-ranked senior Justin Tatkovec of Waterford
(37-1), while the other half of the bracket includes fourth-ranked junior Trent
Leon of Kaukauna (39-6), fifth-ranked junior Jacob Barnett of Hortonville
(36-8) and sixth-ranked freshman Kevin Meicher of Middleton (39-3).
“I’m hoping to be able to redeem myself from last year (at
state), going one and done,” said Bailey. “Hopefully wrestle a couple more
matches and get on the podium this year.
“If I can get past my first match, I feel like I’ll be in
the semis for sure,” he said. “I have the tougher side of the bracket, but I
feel like I can do pretty well.”
Schierl will square off with 11th-ranked freshman Parker
Keckeisen of Nicolet (31-7) in the opener at state, with winner to take on
either seventh-ranked senior Jose Rodriguez of Kenosha Indian Trail (46-5) or 13th-ranked
junior Joe Scaffidi of New Berlin West/Eisenhower (38-9) in the second round.
The State Semifinal round could include third-ranked senior and
2015 Division 1 152 State Champion Brock Benitz of Wisconsin Rapids (40-3) or 10th-ranked
senior Aristide Serrano of Janesville Craig (43-3), while top-ranked senior
Jackson Hemauer of DeForest (44-2), who beat Schierl 3-2 in the second round at
state at 152 last year, fourth-ranked senior Ryder Sigler of Cedarburg (44-1) and fifth-ranked
junior Jose Acosta of Manitowoc (19-0) are in the bottom half of the bracket.
“Through my years at SPASH, I’ve learned a lot, and it’s
just good to have that experience going into my last State Tournament,” said
Schierl. “I’m so grateful for this opportunity to get one more shot at it, and
I’m just looking to have a lot of fun.
“I’m happy with my draw, but either way you have to beat
everyone to win it,” he said. “So the bracket and how it matches up doesn’t
Engle will make his State Tournament debut against ninth-ranked
junior Logan Moore of Sauk Prairie (36-14), with the winner to take on 10th-ranked
senior Garrett White of West Bend West (41-5) or 14th-ranked junior Brandon
King of Pulaski (28-9) Thursday evening.
The semifinal round could include top-ranked junior Jacob
Raschka of Pewaukee (49-0) or fifth-ranked junior Logan Murdy of Janesville
Parker (31-1), while the bottom half of the bracket features second-ranked
senior Ross Agg of Oak Creek (42-3), third-ranked junior Dalton Hahn of
Reedsburg (44-1) and fourth-ranked junior Ben Kitslaar of Bay Port (32-1).
“I have a nice side of the bracket, but it’s the State
Tournament, and you’re going to find the best of the best down there,” said
Engle. “I’ve just got to take it one match at a time and just wrestle the way I
know I can.”
King also credited the work of assistant coaches Steve
Pratt, Brian Hintz, Justin Roth and Bryan Koontz for helping the Panthers send
five wrestlers to the Individual State Tournament for the second year in a row.
“A lot of times those guys don’t get credit, but Brian Hintz
with our big guys, Bryan Koontz with his sons Brady and Dylan, and Justin Roth
and Stevie Pratt going with Fritzy and Nate Engle, those guys deserve a lot of
credit too,” said King. “They put in a lot of time for these kids.”
The State Semifinals are set to begin at Friday, Feb. 26, with the State
Championships to start following the March of Champions at Saturday.
“We’re not going down there to collect hardware and to be
happy with placing,” said King. “We’ve got a group of guys here that truly want
to win a State Championship, and have all of the ability to.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a letdown if you don’t win it, but
we’ve got the horses that are capable of doing a lot of damage,” he said. “And
I fully expect to have multiple guys wrestling for a State Championship this