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Stratford senior Max Schwabe returns to the WIAA State Individual Wrestling Tournament in Madison as one of 20 returning champions in the field. (Photo by Paul Lecker/For Zaleski Sports)

By Paul Lecker For Zaleski Sports

MADISON – A total of 37 wrestlers from Central Wisconsin, including three champions from last year, will compete at the 2020 WIAA State Individual Wrestling Tournament at the Kohl Center in Madison.

Competition begins Thursday at 3 p.m. with Division 1 preliminaries. Division 1 quarterfinals start at 5:15 p.m., and Division 2 and 3 preliminaries will begin at 7 p.m.

Consolation matches in all three divisions and Division 2 and 3 quarterfinals will be held Friday throughout the day beginning at 10 a.m., and semifinals in all three divisions will start at 7 p.m.

Consolation matches, through the fifth- and third-place matches, will be held Saturday starting at 10 a.m. Championship matches in all three divisions begin at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets are available at the Kohl Center box office for $10 per session.

All pre-championship round matches will be streamed live on with a subscription to the NFHS Network. The championship matches will be televised live on Fox Sports Wisconsin and all three mats in the championship round will be streamed live on the Fox Sports app.

A total of 20 champions are returning in the three divisions, including three from the area. Stratford seniors Max Schwabe and Trevor Dennee are back to defend Division 3 titles, and Jake Rau of Medford returns to try for a second-straight Division 2 220-pound title.

Schwabe (45-2), who also placed third as a sophomore in 2018, won the sectional title last week at Edgar and earned a first-round bye. He will face the winner of the 132-pound prelim between Joseph Penchi (36-4) of La Crosse Aquinas and Nicholas Wilfong (25-11) of Deerfield on Friday.

Dennee (46-1) also earned a first-round bye by winning the 195-pound sectional title at Edgar. He will take on the winner of the match between Markus Ramirez (36-10) of Cedar Grove-Belgium and Sam Galoff (43-5) of Brillion in the quarterfinals.

Rau (35-2) won a Division 2 sectional title at 220 pounds last week in Osceola, and will face Mac Strand (27-3) of Appleton Xavier or Noah Degroot (16-8) of La Crosse Aquinas in the quarterfinals.

There are also 14 undefeated wrestlers in state tournament field, including three from Central Wisconsin.

Gavin Drexler of Stratford is 47-0, Ethan Heil of Edgar is 28-0 and Justin Groshek of Stevens Point is 42-0 heading into state.

Groshek is looking for his fourth state tournament medal. After placing third last year, second in 2018 and sixth in 2017, Groshek will compete at 113 pounds this season.

Heil finished second last year at 220 pounds in Division 3 and is back at that weight, and Drexler, a sophomore, is making his first state meet appearance.

Marshfield has five wrestlers at state, including three returning again after making it last year, and two freshmen.

Gabe Pugh (40-3 at 138 pounds), Keagan Cliver (28-7 at 120) and Ryan Dolezal (41-4 at 145) return to state for the Tigers, while freshmen Hoyt Blaskowski (43-4 at 126) and Brett Franklin (26-5 at 132) are making their first trip. All will wrestle in Division 1 preliminaries on Thursday afternoon.

2020 WIAA State Individual Wrestling Tournament Feb. 27-29, at Kohl Center, Madison Thursday, Feb. 27 3 p.m. – Division 1 preliminaries 5:15 p.m. – Division 1 quarterfinals 7 p.m. – Division 2 and 3 preliminaries Friday, Feb. 28 10 a.m. – Division 1 consolation matches 11:15 a.m. – Division 2 and 3 quarterfinals 1:45 p.m. – Division 1 consolation quarterfinals 2:45 p.m. – Division 2 and 3 consolation quarterfinals 7 p.m. – Division 1, 2 and 3 semifinals Saturday, Feb. 29 10 a.m. – Consolation semifinals, fifth-place and third-place matches in Divisions 1, 2 and 3 5:30 p.m. – Championship matches in Divisions 1, 2 and 3 — Matches involving area athletes Thursday, Feb. 27 Division 1 Preliminaries 106: Preston Spray, Wisconsin Rapids (42-3) vs. Noah Tonsor, Slinger (37-9) 113: Justin Groshek, Stevens Point (42-0) vs. Josh Stritesky, Lake Geneva Badger (35-5) 120: Keagan Cliver, Marshfield (28-7) vs. Gavin Cagle, Whitnall/Greendale (34-10); Kyle Roth, Stevens Point (36-9) vs. Jacob Bruner, Pewaukee (37-11) 126: Hoyt Blaskowski, Marshfield (43-4) vs. Liam Hughes, Milwaukee Marquette (36-3); Blake Heal, D.C. Everest (24-12) vs. Ethan Pogorzelski, Menomonee Falls (40-7) 132: Brett Franklin, Marshfield (26-5) vs. Tyler Goebel, Mukwonago (40-11); Gabriel Ramos, Wausau West (32-10) vs. Joshua Cherba, Waterford (37-10) 138: Gabe Pugh, Marshfield (40-3) vs. Andrew Lopez, De Pere (40-4); Demetrio Covarrubias, D.C. Everest (34-10) vs. Jacob Ward, Bay Port (34-4) 145: Ryan Dolezal, Marshfield (41-4) vs. Berhett Statz, Waunakee (39-8) 152: Wyler Lubeck, Wisconsin Rapids (43-6) vs. Kolten Blome, Watertown (22-13); Freddy Lehrke, D.C. Everest (21-6) vs. Damian Zapata, West Bend East (32-14) 170: Gabe Carter, D.C. Everest (39-1) vs. Adam Polczynski, Hartland Arrowhead (35-10) 182: Brett Johnston, Stevens Point (30-15) vs. Tommy Maurice, Brookfield Central (31-10) 195: Andrew Schutz, Wisconsin Rapids (34-10) vs. Zach Wallace, Burlington (36-6) 220: Orion Boe, D.C. Everest (43-1) vs. Nathan Moynihan, Ashwaubenon (38-3) 285: Zach Irbarren, Merrill (44-2) vs. Jay Hanson, Verona (40-7) Division 2 Preliminaries 113: Ashton Ackman, Spencer/Columbus (38-4) vs. Brendan Konitzer, Oconto Falls (32-12) 120: Treyton Ackman, Spencer/Columbus (40-5) vs. Devon Harbison, Beloit Turner (42-5) 145: Zeke Sigmund, Medford (40-6) vs. Braeden Scoles, Kewaskum (37-3) 195: Carter Grewe, Abbotsford/Colby (25-6) vs. Drew Ries, Beloit Turner (31-1) 220: Gunner Hoffmann, Neillsville/Greenwood/Loyal (37-2) vs. Jason Klauck, Kiel (22-7) Division 3 Preliminaries 106: Peter Esser, Pittsville (25-13) vs. Mason Welsh, Iowa-Grant/Highland (19-5) 113: Karter Stuttgen, Stratford (23-5) vs. Chance Gruber, Coleman (29-17) 132: Camron Dammann, Pittsville (27-7) vs. Matt Anderson, Clear Lake (34-9) 138: Dylan Baird, Auburndale (31-11) vs. Kade Pinter, Kenosha Christian Life (50-2) 152: Jacob Heiden, Stratford (39-8) vs. Grant Englebert, Southern Door (37-7) 195: Connor Westfall, Athens (30-7) vs. Noah Degroot, La Crosse Aquinas (16-8) Friday, Feb. 28 Division 2 Quarterfinals 106: Luke Dux, Neillsville/Greenwood/Loyal (34-4) vs. Graeson Pankratz, Oconto Falls (26-12) or Parker Heintz, Lodi (34-12) 220: Jake Rau, Medford (35-2) vs. Mac Strand, Appleton Xavier (27-3) or Trey Griinke, Beloit Turner (4-4) Division 3 Quarterfinals 126: Gavin Drexler, Stratford (47-0) vs. Will Bieber, Coleman (38-9) or Julian Spriggle, Cochrane-Fountain City (31-12) 132: Max Schwabe, Stratford (45-2) vs. Joseph Penchi, La Crosse Aquinas (36-4) or Nicholas Wilfong, Deerfield (25-11) 138: Elijah Lucio, Stratford (16-1) vs. Dylan Baird, Auburndale (31-11) or Kade Pinter, Kenosha Christian Life (50-2) 160: Devin Dennee, Stratford (46-2) vs. Sawyer De rutyer, Cedar Grove-Belgium (36-12) or Dion Helser, Shiocton (23-20) 195: Trevor Dennee, Stratford (46-1) vs. Markus Ramirez, Cedar Grove-Belgium (36-10) or Sam Galoff, Brillion (43-5) 220: Ethan Heil, Edgar (28-0) vs. Andrew Elmhorst, Manawa (31-11) or Dylan Nottestad, Westby (39-11)