PORT WASHINGTON SENIOR Alex Dieringer won his third WIAA state title in four years Saturday at the Kohl Center in Madison. During the medal ceremony, he was flanked by runner-up Kasey Einerson of Wisconsin Rapids (left) and third-place finisher Ryan Gartner of Wilmot. Photo by Mitch Maersch
Port senior lives up to expectations by outclassing field for his third WIAA state wrestling championship
Alex Dieringer dipped into Aaron Rodgers’ celebration bag last Saturday night at the Kohl Center in Madison.
After manhandling Wisconsin Rapids’ Kasey Einerson, 13-2, in the WIAA Division 1 state individual wrestling tournament, the Port Washington senior swept his hands across his waist, outlining an imaginary championship belt.
But there was nothing pretentious about the gesture. Not only did Dieringer’s win in the 145-pound final cap a 44-0 season, it gave him his third state title in four years and left him with an eye-opening 172-4 career record.
“I was excited. I wanted to end my high school career as a champion, and I did,” Dieringer said. “It was a great feeling.”
Dieringer, the nation’s top-ranked 145-pound wrestler in his age group, lived up to expectations throughout the three-day state tournament. He pinned his first opponents, needing 1 minute, 26 seconds to defeat Montel Jackson of Milwaukee Riverside/Shorewood in the opening round and only 47 seconds to beat Menasha’s Bryson Womble in the quarterfinals.
A 16-3 major decision over Wilmot’s Ryan Gartner in Friday’s semifinals set the stage for a showdown against Einerson (43-6). Dieringer had little trouble in the title match, essentially replicating a 12-1 win he scored over
Einerson at the Cheesehead Invitational in December.
Although Dieringer fell short of his goal of pinning all 10 of his postseason foes — three each in the regional and sectional and four at state — he wasn’t overly disappointed.
“I wanted the pins, but I beat them pretty bad, so I was happy,” he said.
So was Port coach Angelo LaRosa, who wasn’t surprised to see the winningest wrestler in school history cruise to top honors.
“Those other wrestlers were good, but Alex is just at another level,” LaRosa said. “He was really getting after it, which we expected him to do.
“We knew that the Rapids kid was very tough, and Gartner was dangerous, too, but he had both of them on their backs throughout the matches.”
DIERINGER dominated the 145-pound weight class at the WIAA Division 1 state individual tournament.
Photo by Mitch Maersch
Dieringer capped his prep career with his third Division 1 state crown, having won the 103-pound title as a freshman. After placing second at 125 pounds in Division 2 as a sophomore, he took first at 140 pounds in Division 1 last year.
“Not winning it as a sophomore (a 7-6 loss in the final) made me even more determined to win it the next two years,” said Dieringer, who will attend Oklahoma State this fall on a wrestling scholarship.
Dieringer was one of four local wrestlers who advanced to this year’s Division 1 state tournament.
He was joined by Port’s Justin Meins, who took third at 125 pounds, and Jake Maechtle, who won one match at 135 before having to default the rest of his matches due to a concussion, and Grafton’s Michael Van Langen, who lost twice at 112. All are seniors.
Near miss for another Pirate
Meins, who finished the season 41-5, had an excellent shot at placing first but was knocked out of title contention when he lost in the quarterfinals to Muskego’s Justin Scherkenbach, 6-5, in double overtime.
After falling behind, 5-0, Meins rallied to force extended time. Scherkenbach was given a warning for stalling late in the match and could have been penalized for continuing the tactic, LaRosa said.
In the second overtime, Meins let Scherkenbach escape so he could go for a takedown but was unable to get any additional points.
“It was a really tough, controversial loss for Justin,” LaRosa said. “His goal was to win a state title, and he could have done it.”
Bumped into the consolation bracket, Meins rebounded to score three wins, including a 4-2 decision in a rematch with Scherkenbach, who lost in the championship semifinals. In his first two consolation matches, Meins defeated Waterford’s Austin Christenson, 4-3, and Wisconsin Rapids’ Jake Jaborek, 9-1.
“He had another excellent season,” LaRosa said of Meins, who was fourth at state in the same weight class as a junior. “He worked really hard and showed he was as tough as anyone.”
Maechtle (30-10) opened his first state tournament with a 14-8 win over Hudson’s Tanner Owens but was injured in the process. He was able to finish the match but showed concussion symptoms and was ruled out for the rest of the weekend.
“It was really unfortunate. Jake was wrestling so well,” LaRosa said. “His head just started hurting, and it was decided he couldn’t take a chance and keep wrestling.”
Although the Pirates hoped to have more than three state qualifiers this season, LaRosa said he couldn’t be prouder of the trio’s showing.
“We wrestled 10 matches and won all but one of them, so that’s outstanding,” he said.
Van Langen (29-6), one of the brightest spots on an improved Grafton team this season, was making his first appearance in a state tournament. He faced an ultra-tough challenge in the first round and was pinned in 4:00 by Chippewa Falls’ Izzy Balsiger (41-2), who went on to win the title.
In the consolation quarterfinals, Van Langen was pinned by Franklin’s Sam Kortes (46-4) in 4:29.
“Getting to state was quite an accomplishment for Michael. The Grafton wrestling family is extremely proud of him,” coach Mike Dodge said.
“We had a great season and have a lot of young guys to continue building the program.”