Tuesday, February 7, 2023

2023 WIAC Preview (Sat Feb 11th)


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. 

125 lbs 

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. 

133 lbs 

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. 

141 lbs 

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. 

149 lbs 

Very tough weight class, featuring three top 15 ranked wrestlers, two of which were NCAA DIII qualifiers last season.  Thus far earning bronze & silver medals at the WIAC, Jake Burford will most likely go in as the *1 seed looking to earn his first gold. As long as he can stay off his back, he should be able to get past Zach Sato if the two are to meet up.  Having been pinned at the 2:50 mark by the Blugold, he owns decisions of 3-2, 11-9 & 11-10.  Against Tyler Goebel, our likely *2 seed, Burford has won two close 6-4 decisions.  Goebel Vs Sato, our likely semi-final? Goebel owns a 6-3 decision, whereas Sato owns an 11-7 decision. The darkhorse in this bracket could very well end up being Parker Kratochvill. While he doesn't own any victories against his ranked foes, he has kept it pretty close with them. An 8-5 loss to Burford & an 8-6 sudden victory loss to Goebel. 

157 lbs 

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? 

165 lbs 

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. 

174 lbs 

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. 

184 lbs 

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. 

197 lbs 

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.  

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