West flirts with potential game-winning pin

Aric Bohn (left) consoles teammate Michael West after Mukwonago’s hard-fought, 35-27 loss in a WIAA Division 1 team state quarterfinal March 2 in Madison. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN) 

By Mike Ramczyk


The Mukwonago wrestling squad took four-time defending state champion to the limit in a WIAA Division 1 Team State Quarterfinal March 2 at the UW-Madison Field House.

Unfortunately, the Indians squandered a brief, yet thrilling shot in the final match and lost, 35-27, ending their season at 13-4.

“Truthfully, a team like Kaukauna has a little bit of savvy, with four state titles,” said Mukwonago coach Jon Wierzbicki. “Our guys are fantastic, and as a group we wrestled only three seniors tonight. I hope this is motivation to come back next year and do it all over again.”

Mukwonago got pins from Jake Stachowski (170), Aric Bohn (220) and Luke Elizewski (126), but the Galloping Ghosts answered with a decision to extend their lead to 32-21 with three matches left. But the Indians showed no quit, reeling off decision victories from Nate Stokhaug (138) and Jake Schulte (145) to cut the lead to 32-27.

The unseeded Indians showed perseverance against the 2 seed.

In the decisive and final match, Michael West needed a pin at 152 to give Mukwonago a last-second, improbable victory, and he came close. In the third period, down 4-2 with 20 seconds left, West tied it at 4-4.

But just seconds earlier, he had Kaukauna’s Harrison Brooks on his back. His shoulders were down, but not long enough for the pin, and the packed house erupted, pleading for the call and the victory.

In overtime, though, Brooks needed mere seconds to take down a gassed West. It was an exhilarating final match for an Indians squad that made its eighth overall team state performance and first since 2016.

After the heartbreaking defeat, West needed a moment, dropping to his knees and burying his face in the mat, before hugging Bohn and sobbing on his shoulder.

The pulse-pounding match capped a strong effort from Mukwonago.

“I thought West was going to be able to pull it off, be-cause he’s such a pinner,” said Mukwonago head coach Jon Wierzbicki. “He’s always fighting, and there’s no quit in Michael West. The Kaukauna boy was out there with one job, and that was not to get pinned. The weight shifted, and he had him on the edge, and he had him flat for a little bit to put a charge in the crowd, and it just didn’t work out.”

At 195 pounds, Justin Eichler added a 5-0 victory.

Kaukauna went on to fall in the state semifinal to Stoughton later Friday night.

On Saturday, Stoughton, which beat Mukwonago, 37-23, in the regular season, won the state championship, 31-29, over top-ranked Holmen.