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Stratford’s Devin Dennee, top, controls Fennimore’s Nick Blaschke during the 160-pound match in the Division 3 semifinals at the WIAA State Team Wrestling Tournament at the UW Fieldhouse in Madison on Saturday. Dennee won by major decision, but the Tigers came up short in the dual. (Photo by Mark Massoglia/For

By Mark Massoglia For Zaleski Sports

MADISON – A big lead in the middleweight matches did not hold up for Stratford during the WIAA State Team Tournament on Saturday morning at the University of Wisconsin Fieldhouse.

Winning six of the last matches, including five pins and a major decision, defending state champion Fennimore defeated Tigers 37-31 in the Division 3 state semifinal dual meet. It was the fifth-straight year Fennimore and Stratford competed against each other at the state tournament, having met in the Division 3 championship round the past four seasons. Stratford won in 2017 and 2018, with Fennimore now taking the other three duals.

Fennimore could not repeat as state champs, however, losing to Coleman by criteria 27-26 in the championship match. Coleman reached the finals with a 40-36 win over Random Lake.

“We wrestled hard against one of the best teams in the state, no matter what division,” Stratford coach Joe Schwabe said. “We wrestled our best and had a couple things not go our way in the end and came up short today. I’m proud of these guys, we had a great year.”

Stratford opened the match with a pin by Max Schwabe in 1:51 at 132 pounds. From the 145-pound through the 182-pound matches, the Tigers won five straight to take a lead 25-3.

During that span, Konner Stuttgen (145), Jacob Heiden (152), and Hunter Ford (170) controlled their match from start to finish to win key decisions.

Stuttgen, a freshman, dominated Fennimore senior Aiden Nutter, scoring four takedowns, an escape and was awarded a penalty point.

Deven Dennee (160) posted a major decision and Trevor Dennee (182) won by forfeit.

“We got a couple key upsets in the mid-weights and they were a little bit nervous,” Schwabe said. “In the upper weights, against their better kids, we were trying to stay off our backs and sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t.”

Starting with a major decision at 195 pounds, Fennimore won five-straight matches by pin to take the lead for good. Stratford’s Gavin Drexler received a forfeit at 126 pounds, leaving the Tigers six points down in the end.

“This is the pinnacle in wrestling,” Schwabe added. “Our seniors made it here all four years, winning as freshmen and sophomores and finishing second last year. They got back down here again and that was a goal. I’m proud of them and all our kids today.”

This was the Tigers’ ninth trip to the team state tournament, winning gold in 2017 and 2018, while finishing runners-up in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2016 and 2019.

Stratford finishes its dual meet season 27-1.

2020 WIAA State Team Wrestling Tournament March 7, at UW Fieldhouse, Madison State Semifinal Fennimore 37, Stratford 31 132: Max Schwabe (S) pinned Maximos Miles (F), 1:51. 138: Alex Birchman (F) def. Elijah Lucio (S), 6-3. 145: Konner Stuttgen (S) def. Aiden Nutter (F), 10-5. 152: Jacob Heiden (S) def. Mason Lull (F), 6-2. 160: Devin Dennee (S) won major decision over Nick Blaschke (F), 15-1. 170: Hunter Ford (S) def. Mason Miles (F), 9-6. 182: Trevor Dennee (S) won by forfeit. 195: Will Ahnen (F) won major decision over Raife Smart (S), 10-1. 220: Logan Klaas (F) pinned Beau Gross (S), 2:56. 285: Aaron Ragels (F) pinned Cole Marten (S), 3:56. 106: Brett Birchman (F) pinned Camryn Fisher (S), 0:15. 113: Jayden Glasbrenner (F) pinned Karter Stuttgen (S), 5:12. 120: Luke Blair (F) pinnned Logan Gaulke (S), 1:45. 126: Gavin Drexler (S) won by forfeit.

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