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Panthers tops in Division 2

MADISON, Wis. -- One thing has been certainly true for Ellsworth's wrestling team these past few weeks as it pursued the WIAA Division 2 State Team Wrestling title, according to Panther head coach Jack Radabaugh.

  "Alex Hoyer came to wrestle."

Hoyer's pin in 4:49 of Luxemburg-Casco's Josh Petersilka at 215 pounds clinched the title Saturday evening at the University of Wisconsin Fieldhouse. No. 3 Ellsworth defeated the No. 1 ranked and defending champion Spartans 33-22.

The win was Hoyer's third in a row. He picked up two key victories in the team sectionals and he won the deciding match at state just like his other two wins, avoiding pins and eventually outlasting his opponents.

"I've been working hard and my conditioning overall has paid off," Hoyer said. "I just waited for him to make a mistake and, when he did, that's when I went for the pin."

Hoyer was nearly pinned in the second period as he gave up five points to fall behind 8-2. But he scored an escape early in the third period and then went for the takedown as Petersilka was too high on the tie-up. Hoyer shot in low for the takedown and then rolled Petersilka onto his back. When the referee slammed his hand down on the mat and blew his whistle, a burst of pandemonium came from the Ellsworth section in the bleachers.

Before Hoyer's win streak, his record was just 9-23.

"Alex has had to wrestle against bigger kids just to fill the heavyweight spot in the lineup," Radabaugh said. "But the losing never got him down. He's worked hard to develop his own style and improve and you can see it in the way he's been wrestling the last few weeks."

Ellsworth, 19-3 overall, had built up a 21-3 lead in the lower and middle weight classes but Luxemburg-Casco came back to win four out of the next five matches to close within 24-16. Hoyer's pin ended the comeback.

This is the first time L-C has lost a state finals match, and Ellsworth is the first Division 2 opponent to beat the Spartans since 2004.

Also winning for the Panthers were Mike Brunner and Jordan Foy with back-to-back pins at 119 and 125; Hayden Hauschildt with a key 8-7 win over Chris Seidl at 130; Jordan Zimmer 8-3 over Justin Seidl at 135; Reuben Huppert 8-3 over Alex LeRoy at 140; and Jeremy Nelson 11-4 over Travis Ledvina at 171. Sam Huppert closed the meet with a 6-3 win over Joe Merceir at 103.

Even though they didn't win, Shawn Helmuller and Conrad Knutson each played pivotal roles. Both wrestlers lost to state individual champions Zac Cibula at 145 and Nick Lloyd at 189, but avoided being pinned.

"Hayden beat a state runner-up and Conrad and Shawn wrestled great matches against state champions," Radabaugh said. "That's what's wrestling for the team is all about."

Ellsworth topped Sheboygan Falls 45-19 in the semifinals earlier that afternoon. The Panthers built a 39-0 lead before the Falcons won their first match.

The state title is Ellsworth's third. It also won in 1985 and 2000.