Nationally ranked UW-Oshkosh owns nine top-four seeds for the 64th edition of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) Wrestling Championship (presented by Culver's) that will be held Friday (Feb. 8) in Eau Claire.
Competition begins at noon in UW-Eau Claire's McPhee Physical Education Center and concludes with the first-, third- and fifth-place matches at approximately 6:30 p.m. The championship will crown 10 individual first-place finishers, along with a team champion.
Each of the six competing squads is permitted to enter two wrestlers per weight class, with the highest finisher in each category counting towards the team scoring.
UW-La Crosse, ranked ninth in the NCAA Division III by the National Wrestling Coaches Association, strives for its third consecutive WIAC title after winning its 17th championship a year ago with 143 points.
UW-Whitewater finished second to the Eagles in last year's team standings with 118 points while UW-Stevens Point finished third with 116.5, UW-Eau Claire and UW-Platteville fourth with 100 and UW-Oshkosh sixth with 89.5.
UW-Oshkosh, which is seeking its first top-three finish at the WIAC Championship since 1997, enters Friday's competition ranked 21st in the country. UW-Whitewater is listed in the national rankings at No. 14 and UW-Stevens Point at No. 22.
In addition to the WIAC titles won by UW-La Crosse, UW-Whitewater also owns 17 league championships and UW-Oshkosh one (1982). Former WIAC wrestling programs to win titles are UW-River Falls (11), UW-Superior (6), UW-Stout (2) and UW-Milwaukee (1).
Returning WIAC individual champions from a season ago include UW-La Crosse's Konrad Ernst (285 pounds), Sawyer Massie (174) and Hayden Schlough (141); UW-Oshkosh's Mark Choinski (157); UW-Platteville's Grant Wedepohl (184); and UW-Whitewater's Hazen Rice (133) and Mike Tortorice (125).
Runner-up performers returning from last year are UW-La Crosse's Logan Schlough (165), Josh Stenger (133) and Grant Zamin (157); UW-Platteville's Jon Goetz (174); and UW-Stevens Point's Luke Smiley (149) and Ben Vosters (125).
In 2017, Ernst, Wedepohl and Goetz secured runner-up finishes in their weight classes, along with UW-Eau Claire's Toby Mosley (165) and UW-La Crosse's Jackson Schoen (157).
UW-Platteville's Scott Arneson was selected the Wrestler of the Meet in 2016 after winning the 133-pound crown. The championship also featured UW-Whitewater's Nicholas Bonomo posting a first-place finish at 184 pounds and UW-Stevens Point's Dan Squires placing second at 174.
Choinski, a two-time WIAC champion at 157 pounds, enters this year's league championship as the top-seeded wrestler at 165 pounds. He currently ranks sixth in the country with his 25-1 record (8 pins).
Titans seeded second are Colten Cashmore (19-6, 5 pins) at 184 pounds and freshman Beau Yineman (27-3, 4 pins) at 197. Cashmore placed fifth in the conference at 184 pounds in 2018 and 174 pounds in 2017.
UW-Oshkosh's lone third-seeded competitor is freshman AJ Schoenfuss (18-8, 13 pins) at 125 pounds.
Seeded fourth for the Titans are Wesam Alabed (16-7, 4 pins) at 141 pounds, Corey Knudsen (9-9, 2 pins) at 149, Patrick Reilly (8-6, 3 pins) at 174, Ben Kitslaar (7-3, 5 pins) at 197 and Jordan Lemcke (18-11, 9 pins) at 285.
Alabed finished third in 141-pound weight class at last year's championship while Knudsen and Kitslaar placed sixth at 149 and 285 pounds, respectively.
Also representing UW-Oshkosh at the WIAC Championship are Jaylin Johnson (1-5) at 125 pounds; Matt Joyce (6-3, 2 pins) and Zach McDowell (3-9, 1 pin) at 133; Dellas Vandenberg (0-3) at 141; Shane Dziadosz (2-7, 2 pins) at 149; Tony Kontney (5-6, 3 pins) and Muzi Sitshela (9-10, 1 pin) at 157; AJ Stengel (3-3) at 165; Bryce Herlache (6-7, 1 pin) at 174; Husam Alabed (8-11, 3 pins) at 184; Ben Kitslaar (7-3, 5 pins) at 197; and Matt Hanke (2-9, 1 pin) at 285.
Qualification for the 2019 NCAA Division III Championship will be based on regional competition. All six WIAC teams will compete at the Upper Midwest Regional on Feb. 22-23 in Eau Claire. The national championship will be held March 8-9 in Roanoke, Va.