Prairie wrestlers place four, Koenig repeats as State Champ

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Sophomore Rhett Koenig stands atop the podium after winning the 113# State Title. This is Koenig’s second State Title, after winning the 106# Championship last year.

Sophomore Rhett Koenig breaks his NGL opponent down in the finals at 113#. Koenig would go on to win 5-2 for a State Championship.

Senior Bradyn Saint uses a collar tie while working for hand fighting in the finals against his Ashland opponent. Saint would finish in 2nd place, a State Runnerup at 170#.

Senior Matt Rogge uses a leg ride to break down his Freedom opponent. Rogge would go on to win 7-2 and finish in 5th place at 152#.

Sophomore Maddox Cejka scores a single leg takedown on his Kiel opponent. Cejka would go on to win by major decision 12-3 on his way to a 6th place finish at 132#.

Sophomore Luke Kramer works on his feet at the State Tournament against his Two Rivers opponent.

Freshman Mason Baumgartner works hard for a two on one for wrist control in a match earlier this year.

Sophomore Ryder Koenig uses a wing looking to turn his Campbellsport opponent at the State Tournament.

In a year that was unlike any other, the 78th annual WIAA Individual State Wrestling Tournament was held on Saturday, Feb. 13 at three different locations; one for each division. In a normal year, the Kohl Center and the Madison area would have been a popular place with wrestling enthusiasts converging from all corners of the state. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, things were modified for the safety of the student/athletes and spectators. Division 2 was hosted by Adams-Friendship High School. Prairie du Chien was represented by a contingent of seven wrestlers with quests to win a State Title. One of the decisions made by the WIAA was to cut the number of qualifiers at each weight class to eight participants instead of the customary 12. That being said, it was more difficult to qualify this year and the brackets were all filled with loads of talent, returning State Placewinners, Champions, etc. In a one-day tournament, the PDC seven did an excellent job representing!

In the opening round (Quarterfinals), PDC would win two and lose five. At 106#, Mason Baumgartner was pinned in the first period (0:44) by Worachek (Lux-Casco). Worachek would go on to win the 106# Championship. 

At 113#, Rhett Koenig would waste little time, recording a first period fall (1:42) over Sternard (Winneconne). 

At 120#, Ryder Koenig would toe the line with Blanchard (Campbellsport) and end regulation in a 6-6 tie. In sudden victory, Koenig would be taken down and lose an 8-6 heartbreaker. Blanchard would go on to finish 6th. 

At 132#, Maddox Cejka would battle hard against Brown (Northwestern), but come up short by decision 7-2. Brown would go on to finish as State Runnerup. 

At 145#, Luke Kramer had the toughest of all draws in Bianchi (Two Rivers). Bianchi would win by major decision 14-0 en route to becoming just the 19th person in Wisconsin history to win four State Titles. 

At 152#, Matt Rogge would square off against a State Runnerup from last year in Thelen (Two Rivers). Rogge would lose by decision 4-0. Thelen would go on to finish as State Runnerup. 

At 170#, Bradyn Saint would make quick work of his opponent, Mathieu (Sheboygan Falls) with a first period fall in 1:30.

In the consolation round, at 106#, Baumgartner would be pinned by Heller (Chilton/Hilbert) in the second period in 1:14. 

At 120#, Ryder Koenig would be pinned by Ingham (Amery) in the second period in 2:16. 

At 132#, Maddox Cejka would go to work and score a 12-3 major decision over Lund (Kiel). 

At 145#, Luke Kramer would lose by decision 7-0 to Amborn (Racine St. Catherine’s). At 152#, Matt Rogge would get back to his winning ways, pinning Sauer (Lomira) in 0:42 seconds.

In the semifinals, at 113#, Rhett Koenig would face Ackman (Spencer/Columbus Catholic), who was a placewinner last year at 120#. In a very tight match, with no margin for error, Koenig would earn a 2-1 decision, via a stall call and an escape, to punch his ticket to the finals. 

At 170#, Bradyn Saint would face Wasley (St. Croix Central), a State Runnerup last year at 160#. In another tight match, with no margin for error, Saint would come out on top with a 4-3 decision, via a takedown and two escapes to punch his ticket to the finals.

In the consolation semifinals at 132#, Cejka would be pinned by Vande Hey (Freedom) in the second period in 1:58. 

At 152#, Matt Rogge would wrestle against Kostka (Regis/Altoona), a State Runnerup last year at 152#. In a very good match, Rogge would come up just short, losing by decision 10-7. 

In the placement round at 132#, Cejka would lose by decision 5-4 to Quaglia (Sugar River). Cejka would end his day on the podium with a 6th place finish. 

At 152#, Rogge would win by decision 7-2 to earn himself a 5th place finish.

All of this would lead to Saturday evening’s finals. At 113#, Rhett Koenig would match up with Dux (NGL), an opponent he defeated at last year’s State Tournament in the semifinals. In the first period, each wrestler would battle hard for position and wrist control, but no takedowns. In period two, Dux would choose down and get an escape 23 seconds into the period. After more hand fighting and a few shot attempts, Koenig would get a Russian tie and use it for position to end the second period. In period three, Koenig would choose down and get an escape 12 seconds into the period to tie it 1-1. Koenig would then get his offense going, getting a takedown 43 seconds into the period. Dux would get an escape, but Koenig would take him down again and ride him out for a 5-2 decision and his second straight State Championship! 

At 170#, Bradyn Saint would match up with Stricker (Ashland), an opponent who placed fourth at 145# last year. Stricker would score first, getting a takedown with 0:41 seconds left in the first period. Saint would counter with a quick escape to make the score 2-1 at the end of period one. In period two, Saint would choose down and get an escape 19 seconds into the period. There would be much hand fighting and several shot attempts, but no finishes the rest of period two. In period three, Stricker would choose down and get an escape followed by a takedown from a scramble off of Saint’s shot to take a 5-2 lead. Saint would work hard on bottom and get a penalty point for stalling to cut the lead to 5-3. Saint would then get an escape with under 10 seconds left, but ran out of time in a 5-4 decision. Saint would finish in second place as State Runnerup. 

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A few facts from Saturday’s State Tournament and the individual careers of these fine wrestlers:

•Sophomore Rhett Koenig becomes PDC’s first two-time State Champion and second two-time finalist (Taylor Elliott). Koenig also secured PDC’s fourth State Title (Mike Lenzendorf, Tyler Hannah, Rhett Koenig).

•Senior Bradyn Saint becomes PDC’s sixth State Runnerup (Taylor Elliot 2x, Traeton Saint, Nick Rogge, Stephen Ronnfeldt). Saint is also the second 3x State Qualifier for PDC (Zach Elliott). In addition, Bradyn Saint and Traeton Saint become the first set of brothers to wrestle in the State Finals for PDC. Saint will finish his career with the third most wins in school history behind Traeton Saint and Taylor Elliott. 

•Senior Matt Rogge becomes PDC’s third wrestler to qualify for State all four years (Taylor Elliott, Traeton Saint). Rogge will finish his career in no less than fifth in career wins behind Traeton Saint, Taylor Elliott, Bradyn Saint, Nick Rogge, Stephen Ronnfeldt).

•Rhett (1st in 2020, 1st in 2021), Matt (3rd in 2020, 5th in 2021), and Bradyn (5th in 2020, 2nd in 2021) also join a short list of PDC wrestlers to have placed at least twice at the State Tournament (Mike Lenzendorf 2x, Clayton Beers 2x, Taylor Elliott 3x, Traeton Saint 3x).

•Mason Baumgartner becomes PDC’s eighth freshman to qualify for the State Tournament.

•Luke Kramer joins a PDC list of 15 wrestlers to qualify for multiple State Tournaments.

•Maddox Cejka joins a PDC list of 29 State Placewinners.

•Ryder Koenig joins a PDC list of 54 State Qualifiers.

•PDC pairs of brothers to have wrestled in the State Tournament: Saint (Traeton and Bradyn), Rogge (Nick and Matt), Elliott (Zach and Taylor), Stormoen (Alex and Sam).

•Rhett, Ryder, and Reid Koenig become the first set of three brothers to have wrestled in the State Tournament for PDC.

Up next for the Blackhawk grapplers will be WIAA D2 Team State, hosted by Adams-Friendship on Saturday, Feb. 20. The Hawks are making a return trip, following last year’s berth. The opening round will start at 10:30 a.m. PDC, the #2 seed, will face #3 Winneconne. The other match-up will be #1 Amery vs. #4 Kiel. The winning teams will square off for the State Title approximately 20 minutes after the opening round. Go Blackhawks!

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