When it comes to the overlooked, underrated & underappreciated, I don't know if a state fits the description more than that of Wisconsin in terms of what it produces and what it offers in terms of NCAA Division III wrestling. In a world that is fixated with Division I, the UW system in the Badger state has six DIII schools, all of which are pretty competitive. UW-Eau Claire, UW-La Crosse, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Platteville, UW-Stevens Point & UW-Whitewater. Just think, if it weren't for discontinuation you could also add UW-River Falls, UW-Stout & UW-Superior to the list as well.
We're talking ranked wrestlers in nearly every weight class, All American contenders & even some NCAA DIII champion contenders. The UW system provides great opportunities at the DIII level for in-state and out of state wrestlers to continue their careers and education. From a fan perspective each weight is full of wrestlers very familiar with one another. A ton of back and forth as well as parity in this tournament. Will be full of fun, exciting and unpredictable action.
Let's take a look weight by weight at the 2023 WIAC (Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) Championships.
Ask me who I think makes the award stand at 125 lbs WIAC, and these are the names I give you. Ask me to try and predict what order they'll finish in? I haven't got a clue. Having been 3rd & 2nd thus far in his career, I'd like to see Luc Valdez make a run at the title. He has wins over both Brandon Murphy & Nolan McKittrick, but here's the deal. They both have wins over him too. He's met up with Murphy a total of 8 times & he's only won two of those meetings. Wins for Murphy include 2-1, 7-4, 9-2, 4-1 & 5-1 decisions, plus a 2:16 fall. Valdez's wins include an 11-0 major decision & a 1-0 decision. Against Kittrick he is 2-1, with both a 10-3 & 7-2 decision against a 9-3 decision for McKittrick. Against one another Murphy owns a 4-2 s.v. over Kittrick. In relation to Murphy he's had a rather disappointing season in regards to his expectation. He was an NCAA DIII qualifier last year, but so far has a disappointing 6-10 record. This late into the season, now would be a good time to make things happen, and win a conference title. Easier said than done as Carter Schulz owns a 4-2 victory over him & teammate Remington Bontreger pinned him at the 2:05 mark. For those of you who love parity, McKittrick majored Bontreger 13-4. McKittrick also owns a 5-2 victory over Schulz. If you want to try and make predictions here you can, but I'm gonna just sit back and see what happens.
He may not have a coach in his corner for the WIAC championships, but I still wouldn't be surprised to see two time NCAA DIII All American Zach Thompson in the finals this weekend. It's a real possibility that he could be opposite Tyler Fleetwood. The Pioneer & the Blugold have met a total of three times, with Fleetwood owning two wins & Thompson owning one. Fleetwood's wins a 12-4 major & a 3-2 decision Vs Thompson's 5-2 decision. Thompson has split with Zach Weiler, owning a 13-4 major, yet getting pinned by the Eagle in 1:38. Against Denis Murphy, Thompson owns both a 22-7 technical fall as well as a 16-4 major decision. He majored Dominik Mallinder 11-2. Fleetwood on the other hand has had more of a struggle with Murphy & Mallinder. He defeated Mallinder 5-0, but had to use overtime in order to defeat Murphy 6-4. To finish up stats, Mallinder owns a 13-4 major over Weiler as well as a 14-10 decision over Murphy. Once again, here are the guys I think will make the award stand, but good luck trying to determine the exact order they'll finish in.
Dakarai Clay may be the only one going into this with a ranking, but trust me, he's far from a shoe-in to win a WIAC title. If he is to win a championship on Saturday, he's going to have to earn it. Thus far in six matches, he is 3-3 with Tyler Shackle. Owning a 6:38 fall over the Eagle, he also owns a 6-4 s.v. as well as an 11-10 decision. On the flip side, Shackle owns a 15-0 technical fall, a 6-2 decision & a 17-15 decision. These guys have put on high packed action extravaganzas in the past, and it's likely they will again should the two meet. No guarantees however, as Zach Licht owns a 7:00 fall over Shackle & Ethan Pogozelski owns a 5-4 decision over Shackle. To make the bracket even more fun, Sam Lorenz owns a 5:19 fall over Pogozelski.
This is about the only cut and dry weight class there is in this year's WIAC. I can't see anyone even remotely challenging two time WIAC champion Nolan Hertel as he goes for his third title. Even against what should be his stiffest competition he has completely dominated. A 12-3 win over Aiden Brosinski, he's defeated Nate Stokhaug 11-2, 14-3, 10-1 & 10-2. The real question here is who between Brosinski and Stokhaug will be his finals opponent?
This will be a very fun weight class to see unfold. Our forerunner here as far as the rankings are concerned is Noah Leisgang. He has a one point 4-3 victory over Tristan Massie & a two point 3-1 victory over Ryan Vedner. He also owns a 4-1 victory over Brandon Peckham. Here's where a bit of parity comes into play. Vedner owns a 6-4 victory over Massie. Yet, Peckham owns both a 3-1 s.v. as well as a 3-2 victory over Vedner, whereas Massie has defeated Peckham by scores of 7-1 & 10-6. For the record, Peckham also owns a 8-0 major decision over Cody Welker.
7th in the nation last year & a NCAA DIII title contender this season, our likely WIAC champion at 174 lbs will be Seth Brossard. Completely dominant this season at 21-2, he's scored 11 falls thus far & that includes pinning everyone you see here. A 2:38 fall over Nathan Wynsma, he's pinned Jared Stricker in 2:21 & Ryan Riser in 4:18. Although Rankings would lead you to believe differently, it is Stricker who owns two victories over Wynsma. A 5-0 & a 9-3 decision. He also three victories, 5-2, 10-5 & 6-0over Riser. Wynsma owns a 6-3 victory over Riser.
One of the best wrestlers in NCAA DIII wrestling, look for Jaritt Shinhoster to win this third WIAC title this weekend. Do I think anyone here could give him a decent match in the finals? No. His likely finals opponent Niall Schoenfelder he's defeated 15-4 and 11-2 thus far. He also owns a 9-0 major decision over Kasey Ross & both a 4:16 fall as well as a 16-0 technical fall over Trystan Altensey. Schoenfelder owns a 3-0 victory over Kalyn Jahn, & he's defeated Ross 3-1 & 3-0. Altensey actually owns a 12-9 decision over Schoenfelder, while Schoenfelder owns both a 9-4 decision as well as a 3:49 fall over Altensey. Jahn owns a 6-0 victory over Ross.
A very competitive weight class that includes a returning NCAA DIII All American and two others who were one match shy of All American honors last year. This also includes two returning WIAC champions & a WIAC runner-up.
Ben Kawczysnski owns an 8-4 victory over Chase Melton & a 2-0 victory over Beau Yineman.
Yineman owns a 10-3 victory over Tyler Hanna & both a 10-3 as well as a 7-2 decision over Sam Melton. Against Marcus Orlandoni, he owns an 8-3 decision, yet dropped a 3-2 decision.
Sam Melton owns a 3-1 win over Chase Melton as well as an 8-5 decision over Orlandoni.
Hanna owns four victories over Sam Melton, which include 4-0, 3-0 & 2-0 decisions as well as a 3-2 tiebreaker.
Tons of close matches here, suggest that a variety of possibilities could happen here. Brett Schoenherr owns a 3-2 victories over both Michael Douglas and Shelby Jones. He also owns a 2-1 tiebreaker over Jones. Douglas owns a 3-1 s.v. over Jackson Schichel. This tells me our semi-final, our final & our consolation final are all likely to be close, tight matches.