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2019 Nominations

2019 WWCA Elections:

The positions and awards listed below are open to nominations until March 22nd.  Voting will begin on March 23rd.

- WWCA President Elect
- District 7 & 8 Representative
- District Coach of the Year in all districts
- Assistant Coach of the Year
- Wrestler of the Year

**With the exception of Wrestler of the Year, only WWCA Members can be nominated for a position or award.  A full list of members and their districts can be found at: WWCA Membership

To submit a nomination, please email to: mpernste@wausauschools.org  Please put WWCA in the subject line. Nominations must include the following:

1. The Position or Award for which you are making a nomination.
(Be sure to include correct WWCA District for District Rep and District Coach of the Year) 

2, Name and School of the Nominee:

3, Include a BRIEF rationale supporting your nomination.

Only nominations with complete information will be posted below shortly after they are received:


****VOTING FOR STATE COACH OF THE YEAR WILL TAKE PLACE AFTER DISTRICT COACHES OF THE YEAR HAVE BEEN DETERMINED.


2019 Nominations Received:

WWCA President-Elect

Nominations for President-Elect of the Wisconsin Wrestling Coaches Association

Wenall Bean - Whitewater
Wendall is as committed to wrestling is Wisconsin as anyone I've met.  He was a longtime successful HS wrestling coach for Whitewater, qualifying for the Team State Tournament several years.  Because of his many years of coaching success, he was elected as a George Martin Hall of Famer.  Today, he continues coaching MS wrestling and officiates.  He's been a WWCA board member for many years and currently runs the Fall WWCA Convention.  In addition, he is the Tournament manager for the Mid-States Classic.  He knows how to run major events and is skilled in working with people and staying organized.  He's cool under pressure and has the best intentions for Wisconsin wrestling at heart.

Justin Lancaster - Freedom
Justin is the current District 4 Rep and has served in the past as WWCA secretary. He has been a successful coach at Freedom High School to which he has coached Freedom to two team state titles.   He has an enthusiasm for wrestling and he is committed to helping wrestling in Wisconsin any way he can.  Justin's time as District 4 Rep shows he has the skills to communicate and work with coaches.  With his time on the WWCA board, Justin has gained valuable experience for the position of President Elect.   


WWCA District 7 Representative

Nominations for WWCA District 7 Representative

Joel Dutton - Kenosha Tremper
Joel would be a tremendous asset to the WWCA executive board.  He has a clear vision for his own program and does a tremendous job working with kids from diverse backgrounds.  He has a great handle on what motivates kids and is very conscientious of what is best for the sport and most importantly, his athletes.  Joel works well with people and is a strong communicator.  He also has experience advocating for wrestling in our state as a former Wrestling Advisory Board member to the WIAA.  We could certainly use his talents to move our sport forward in Wisconsin.

Craig Austin - Whitnall
Coach Austin has done a great job in serving the past 2 terms on the WWCA Board. He has been instrumental in helping to pass several advances the past few years that have originated at the district level and will continue to serve our district well in the next four years.

WWCA District 8 Representative

Nominations for District 8 Representative:

Kevin Koch - Concordia University
Kevin Koch would be a tremendous asset to the District board,
and he has worked with Wisconsin wrestlilng for many years,
the WWF, and now the collegiate level.  His passion for
wrestling in Wisconsin will serve us well!


District 1 Coach of the Year

Nominations for WWCA District 1 Coach of the Year:

Daniel Clark and Joe Raygor - St. Croix Falls
They had 7 individuals compete at the State level. They show commitment, compassion, drive, and true grit. They work with others and truly create a team.


District 3 Coach of the Year

Nominations for District 3 Coach of the Year:

Jason Lulloff - Holmen High School 
This year, Jason won his 6th Conference Championship, 8th Regional Title, 5th Team Sectional Title, was a Division 1 Team State Qualifier, had 4 Individual State Qualifiers, and 2 Individual State Place Winners. Jason led the Vikings to their 3rd straight Team State Appearance. This ties a school record. He serves as the tournament director of the Bi-State Classic, the biggest tournament in the state of Wisconsin. This year the Bi-State Classic hosted a record 69 teams, and also included its 1st ever Women's Division. Jason has been instrumental in building the sport of wrestling in Wisconsin. This year, Holmen had over 80 student-athletes come out for high school wrestling, this included over 30 first year wrestlers, and over 20 girls. With this, Holmen had the largest woman's wrestling team in the state.

Ernest Peterson - Whitehall
Ernest Peterson has fostered a resurgence in his school's popularity for the sport of wrestling. For a division 3 school to fill out all weight classes and carry extra wrestlers for the last several seasons is evidence he is doing a great job promoting the sport of wrestling and helping it grow. In that effort, his program has gone from 5 wrestlers total to mid 20's in junior high and 22-26 yearly wrestlers in five seasons. While his program is not at the level of the perennial division 3 powerhouses at this time, he has quietly created a public school program that can compete year in and year out for conference and regional titles and has delivered 8 wrestlers to the WIAA individual sectional tournament. 


District 5 Coach of the Year

Nominations for District 5 Coach of the Year:

Bob Empey & Dan Spilde - Stoughton
After a successful 17-18 season, many thought the 2018-19 season was going to be step back with the loss of large number of accomplished seniors.  This is where the leadership of the Bob and Dan and the program they have developed proved otherwise. The 18-19 Vikings went wire to wire as the #1 ranked team in the state and once December hit, the team was ranked in the top 50 nationally.  The Vikings won team titles in every varsity event they entered except for the Cheesehead, included in this was 2 Varsity titles by the Varsity Reserve team.  The finishing 3rd at the Cheesehead,the Vikings were Wisconsins highest placing team ahead of both D3 and D2 Team champions as well as D1 runner ups, and placing in front of 3 other nationally ranked teams that were in the field.  At the individual state championships, Stoughton became Wisconsin all time individual state champion leaders with 51. All in all, a very dominant performance throughout the year.

Coach Chad Steldt - Fennimore
Coach Steldt’s leadership reaches beyond the mat and classroom. His influence in Fennimore has united and prided this small rural town. He has built a strong and stable program at Fennimore in the last four years. Prior to this he coached at Ellsworth where he had like-success. Fennimore has never been to Team State until Coach Steldt arrived. Since he has arrived, we have gone every year, and experienced more success at every level than any other time in our wrestling history. In 2016, he lead the Golden Eagles to a State Title over the heavily favored Stratford Tigers. In 2019 he did it again. Fennimore has continuously broken their own school record for state qualifiers the last three years. In 2019, the Golden Eagles had 10 state qualifiers.  Chad’s influence reaches beyond high school. He has sent several wrestlers on to wrestle in college. He has also improved the youth program within Fennimore, which has now over 80 participants (class sizes average 60) in wrestling. The sport has grown tremendously in this small southwestern town because of what Coach Steldt has done and continues to do.


District 7 Coach of the Year

Nominations for District 7 Coach of the Year:

John Quinlan - Whitnall/Greendale
Quinlan deserves this honor for several reasons. First, he reached 600 wins this season. This shows both his success this year with over 20 wins, as well as over his career 30+ years. Secondly, Quinlan coached a team that only had 2 seniors to a respectful 3rd place finish at both the conference tournament and regionals. Third, Quinlan is an advocate for the sport, serving as a WWCA board member and past president. He continuously works to develop the sport in the state. Lastly, Quinlan develops coaches and not just wrestlers. As a former assistant of his for both football and wrestling he has guided me into my new roles of defensive coordinator for football, and head coach of my own wrestling team. Without Quinlan's mentorship, this would have been a much more difficult transition. 

Terry Nachtigall and Mitch Pordon - Oak Creek
Oak Creek won the Southeast Conference dual meet championship with a perfect record of 7-0. They accomplished this with 8 freshmen in their starting lineup throughout the entire season. In the post season, they had 2 state qualifiers both placing, 4th and 6th. 

District 2 Coach of the Year

Nominations for WWCA District 2 Coach of the Year:

Joe Schwabe - Stratford
I have been in the Stratford program for 20 years in a unique position (Asst Coach, Head Coach, Co-Head coach, vol asst.), so I know of what I speak.  This was, in my opinion, Joe’s finest job coaching/coaching psychology from the start to finish, which speaks volumes in his illustrious career. We only returned 5 starters (one missed the 1st half of the season) and our season was delayed due to our football team’s 2nd place state finish.   This left an untested, unproven group to carry on the tradition and Joe’s task of motivating and coordinating the squad. The culmination was a victory over a superbly coached, battle tested Coleman squad to advance once again to the team state tournament. We eventually lost to a powerful Fennimore squad in the State championship match 24-31. Team Statistics: Team State 2nd place finish DIII, 26-2 Dual Meet record (defeated Holmen and Luxemburg-Casco, Lost to Ellsworth 31-32), Bi-State DIII Champions (2nd overall to Stoughton), WIAA Individual WWCA Coaches Champions (Stratford 130.0 to Stoughton 113.5) Individual Statistics: Conference Tournament (12 finalists, 9 Champions), Regional (11 finalists, 9 champions), State Tournament 9 qualifiers, 7 Medalist (3 champions, 1-2nd, 3-4th)

Kevin Casper, Coleman 
Kevin has coached the Cougars to another fantastic season winning every tournament they were in this year: 1st at  Pulaski Duals Tournament beating Freedom in finals 46-30 who were the D 2 State Champions, 1st at Ed Stech West Allis Tournament with Mukwonago taking 2nd, who was the D 1 runner up, 1st at Oshkosh on The Water winning it by widest margin ever, 1st at the New London Cutler Classic, and 1st at the always tough Pulaski Invite., with Kaukauna taking 2nd and LC 3rd. Coleman qualified all 14 wrestlers to the sectionals,  10 wrestlers to the State Tournament with 7 medalists and 3 State Champions, two of them now 3 x State Champs. Coleman wresters are always a class act and that is generally a reflection of there coaches. This might be one of the best seasons Coleman has ever had.  


District 4 Coach of the Year

Nominations for District 4 Coach of the Year:

Duane Hartkopf - Oshkosh West 
Oshkosh West finished the dual meet season at 8-1, with the only loss coming to then, #5 ranked Kaukauna. In regular season tournament action, West finished 5th at Battle on the Bay (best finish ever) 3rd at the SIACC-Holtfretter(IL) tournament, 3rd overall at the prestigious Northern Badger(highest finish ever), and won the championship at the Port Washington Invite. Postseason, the West team finished  2nd at the FVA conference tournament with three individual champions, the most ever in West wrestling history. West then finished 2nd at the Oshkosh North Regional and 2nd at the Hartford Sectional, qualifying 5 wrestlers for the WIAA State Tournament.  At the Hartford Sectional, West also claimed 3 individual Champions, the most ever for the school. 

At the WIAA State Tournament, West had two wrestlers place, one 3rd place finish, and a 5th place finish. This was the first time in West history that there were at least two place winners in the same year. As as a team, West finished tied for 11th place overall. Comparatively, at the 2018 WIAA State Tournament, West had 1 placer (a 5th) and finished 52nd overall. All of these accomplishments were done without 3 weights in the lineup for almost the entire year! One starter was lost due to early graduation, a second starter was lost due to a season-ending injury (who was also ranked at the time) and the 3rd was an open weight. The team GPA academically hovered around a 3.0 and there were no disciplinary infractions the entire year.

In addition to the Varsity accolades, the JV team finished their dual season 6-1, the first time that has been accomplished. The JV team also placed 2nd at the Peshtigo Invitational (Varsity tournament) and won the Sauk Prairie JV Challenge Series Regional for the 2nd year in a row. Additionally, they qualified 9 wrestlers for JV State, with two placers (5th and 6th). This was also the first time West had more than 1 JV State place winner.

Without question, Coach Hartkopf epitomizes the meaning of doing more with less and the improvement made from the previous season was impossible not to notice. The only thing that outshines what he has been able to do with West on the mat is his passion for the sport and for the kids he coaches. The attendance at the West home meets and at the away tournaments has increased significantly and I believe that can be attributed to his year-round efforts.  As humans, we all like easy choices and this is about as easy of a choice as you can have, select Duane Hartkopf from Oshkosh West as the District 4 Coach of the Year!

Justin Lancaster - Freedom High School 
In Coach Justin Lancaster’s eight years as a head coach the Freedom wrestling program has seen great
success. They have won two team state titles one in 2015 and one this year in 2019. Freedom has won
five conference titles. He has had four individual state champs, and countless state qualifiers. Not only is
he involved at the high school level, but he also helps out at the youth levels as well. This year Freedom
started a kindergarten through fifth grade girls youth program that Coach Lancaster was also a part of.
They had about 40 youth girls who participated.


District 6 Coach of the Year

Nominations for District 6 Coach of the Year:

Chris Graziano - Slinger
Team State Qualifier, 6 wrestlers to the state tournament, 3 placewinners
Coach Graziano has been at the helm of Slinger wrestling for well over 30 years.  After graduating 6 starting seniors including 4 state qualifiers the Slinger Owls came back better than ever.  They won the very tough Gunslinger and TKO invitationals during the season as well as finishing 2nd at Oshkosh-OTW.  Slinger then finished the season winning conference, regionals, qualifying for team state, having 6 state qualifiers and 3 state place winners.  However Coach Graziano's focus on team cannot be overlooked.  He once again had a team of almost 50 athletes sending 11 to JV State and his varsity reserve taking 2nd at the Battle on the Fox. 

Mark Peterson - Campbellsport
Mark has been an extremely positive influence on the sport of wrestling in District 6 for over 30 years. He has been the coach of an excellent program year in and out and to the young men he has coached. He has also been an excellent mentor and role model to new coaches coming into their roles as head coaches. Mark's passion for wrestling and all those involved was as strong in his final year as ever before as he again took multiple wrestlers to the individual state tournament.  


District 8 Coach of the Year

Nominations for District 8 Coach of the Year:

Kevin Koch - Concordia University
In his second season, Kevin Koch has begun a rebound
of the wrestling program and has shown steady improvement
with his first recruiting class last season.  In 2019, 
CUW finished fifth in the CCIW Conference Meet for
their highest finish since joining the conference in 2016.


WWCA Assistant Coach of the Year

Nominations for Assistant Coach of the Year:

Abe Graziano - Fort Atkinson
You really cannot ask for a better assistant than Abe.  He's great with the kids, obsesses over the little things that often get missed by many coaches, and is always available - willing to do whatever it takes to help kids in the program improve and keep wrestling.  Abe runs our offseason program; a number of years ago, he created a camp in which he brings in clinicians from all over the midwest to work with our athletes.  It's a huge undertaking but Abe makes it look easy.  He has a passion for wrestling that cannot be understated.

Chris Satori - Hortonville
Coach Satori does it all for our Hortonville Wrestling Program. He is an Assistant High School coach, liaison between or Booster club and the Middle School program, he is our Booster Club president and also our head youth pre K - 2nd grade coach. Chris builds an excellent relationship with all the wrestlers on our High School team. One of Chris's best attributes is his ability to relate to all our wrestlers but especially our less experienced varsity and JV wrestlers. He is great at teaching them a true love for the sport!!!! This is crucially to keeping these athletes out for the sport to develop them into crucial components of a successful team. Chris's commitment to the high school program does not end in February. He works tirelessly all off season at open mat being a partner for all the upper height class wrestlers. He is responsible for the growth of our youth numbers over the past four years, this year topping out at 150+ youth wrestlers pre K - 5th grade. He is very creative and is constantly working on ways to brand our program, grow it and keep as top of the mind awareness in our community. Chris is the primary reason we are so excited about the future of our program at every age level. Without Coach Satori I would find it very difficult to continue to coach.

Jason Berna - Bay Port
This nomination is long overdue.  Coach Berna has been the head assistant coach at Bay Port since the 2003-4 season. During this time he has played an active role in developing our high school wrestlers during the day to day routine of practice. His commitment to our program is a major contributor to our success as a competitive team who won 7 of the last 9 conference titles and competed in two state semi-final duals that resulted in a state runner-up during this time. This season, we had a state champion who wrestled a total of 6 months in his life. Although an outstanding athlete, this cannot happen without excellent assistants who are lead by our head assistant, Jason Berna.Outside of practice, Jason is a partner with our wrestling club who contributes a ton of time to make sure we run an organized varsity tournament, jv/ms tournament, youth tournament, and WWF qualifier tournament.  He is the first one to show up for set-up and the last one to leave upon clean-up.  During this time we put approximately 1500 athletes through our doors and this cannot happen without the work and ideas of Coach Berna, who was the brain child of our 24 varsity team tournament, Battle on the Bay.   The most important role of a coach is his/her ability to work with an athlete to develop the overall student-athlete, the person.  This is something Jason excels at and should be recognized for. It is common to find him working with students to improve grades, improve home life, and prepare them for life after high school.  

Mike Steffen - St. Croix Falls
Mike has been the assistant coach at SCF for 15 years.  Over the last two years he has played a big role in winning 2 Northern Badgers and 2 sectional championships.  SCF has a dual record of 32-2 in the last 2 years and Mike has played a big part in their success.  He is a great man that gives a lot of himself to help out student athletes.

Mike Lyga - West Salem/Bangor
Mike has been an assistant coach for the West Salem/Bangor high school team over the last two years. Mike has been a part of the WB wrestling program for many years leading up to his latest position. He has also been an assistant coach at a few other area teams as well. Mike brings a ton of knowledge and experience to the program, but Mike's best quality is how he builds relationships with the kids. He has an uncanny ability to make anyone laugh in the room which can be extremely difficult to do in such a high-intensity environment. He also knows when to keep the comments limited and just be there for the athletes to vent to. He is able to get the most out of his athletes as well as his fellow coaches. Mike has really been a vital part of our team. Mike is the perfect compliment to our staff and he has been the best addition. It is a great honor to have the opportunity to work with him.

Mike Cummings - Hartford
Mike has been a dedicated Hartford Assistant Wresting Coach for 21 years.  Though his career, he has worked under three different head coaches and all of them have nothing but positive things to say about what he brings to the wrestling room.  His dedication to the sport of wrestling has helped countless wrestlers reach their goals on the mat and life.  When we go to wrestling events, Mike seems to know everyone and everyone knows him.  When he is not attending to our wrestlers, he loves catching up with coaches and referees on a personal level.  Mike is a priceless asset to Hartford Wrestling and would be a great choice for Assistance Wrestling Coach of the Year.

Lennie Shefchik - Denmark High School
Lennie has been coaching wrestling in some capacity for 51 years.  In 2017, he was recognized by the Wisconsin chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as an Outstanding American for his efforts in this great sport.  I have been fortunate enough to work with him over the last six years as the head coach at Denmark.  Lennie's knowledge of wrestling has played an important role in the development of our growing program.  Much of his impact occurs behind the scenes while at practice, over the phone, and in the halls of Denmark High School.  In addition to preparing kids for success on the mat, much of his effort is focused on preparing kids to be great young men long after they are finished wrestling.  Lennie has helped so many to handle adversity and perform well under pressure both personally and professionally.  His dedication to the sport of wrestling over the past 51 years make him a prime candidate for this recognition.  So for these reasons, I nominate Lennie Shefchik for Assistant Coach of the Year.

Dan Laurent - Kimberly 
Dan has been instrumental in Kimberly's success in recent years. He has been a coach at all levels in various districts for over 30 years, and his passion for the kids and the sport is still evident every day, both in and out of season. Dan organizers and contacts volunteers and officials for our annual Freestyle/Greco tournament, and helps enlighten student-athletes about the importance of out of season work like the FARGO camps and local wrestling clubs. He has done a lot to grow the culture of Kimberly wrestling by organizing get-togethers for parents and coaches and his organization and passion is something that we hold in high regard. He brings energy and purpose to the practice room every day. Because of everything he does both in and out of season to help further the sport, I think Dan is an excellent choice for Assistant coach of the year.

Brad Baker – Freedom
Brad has been coaching wrestling at Freedom in one form or another since graduating from Freedom in 2000. He wears many hats Brad has coached youth wrestling, freestyle, Greco, pre-season, post season, middle school, and high school. Brad is currently our middle school coach and has been for many years. This year Brad was also an assistant on the high school team who won a state title. Brad split his time with middle school practices and high school practices, and even helped coach our youth girl’s practices. Brad was an important part of us adding a girls wrestling program to Freedom. Brad’s passion for wrestling is a huge reason for the success of the Freedom Wrestling program.

Donale Zdanczewicz - Fennimore
Donald Zdanczewicz has been with Fennimore Wrestling program for the last five years. In those years Fennimore has experienced the most success and highest participation rates in Fennimore’s history. This is directly due to Coach Z’s strong work ethic and ability to relate to the kids. He has excelled with improving Fennimore’s upper weights and weight lifting program. Every week Coach Z has re-open the wrestling room late at night to improve the skill set of not only our varsity guys, but also our JV kids that will soon see the starting line-up. He is the main reason why we get kids to stay out and progressing through their senior year. Don also leads our 4k to 2nd grade program. He has done a great job combining wrestling and gymnastics so that our youngsters are well-rounded athletes. The participation numbers at this level are at all-time highs because of his approach and demeanor. Not only that, but Coach Z works with these kids in the summer, and goes above and beyond what is asked of him. He is a humbled leader in our local region, and we are lucky to have him.


2018-19 Wrestler of the Year

Nominations for Wrestler of the Year:

Eric Barnett - Hortonville
Please consider Eric for  Wrestler of the Year. Eric finished this season 47-0 winning his 3rd consecutive DI State Title.  This is the 3rd year in a row Eric has gone undefeated amassing 139 wins in a row. He also finished without surrendering as offensive point!  He finished his High School career with a record of 185-3. Besides the 3rd State title this year, he won the MN Xmas Tournament and was also voted the MVW of that very prestigious and extremely tough tournament. Eric won his 3rd consecutive Oshkosh On the Water title with the MVW award.  He won his 4th consecutive Pulaski Invite, with MVW honors, his 4th Fox Valley Association Title with conference wrestler of the year honors. Eric also won his 4th straight Regional and Sectional titles.Eric was the Fargo Junior Freestyle  Champion this summer wining it with a pin. He also place 3rd in Fargo in Greco. Eric was invited to Flowrestling's Whose Number One challenge in October where he wrestled 2x cadet world champ Kurt McHenry and won by decision. Eric was the #1 ranked 120 pounder in the country for the majority of the year by Flowrestling. Flo currently has him ranked #2 at 126 pounds. Eric is currently the number one ranked 126 pounder in the country by trackwrestling rankings sponsored by Rudis.Eric was asked to represent Team USA on March 15th  in the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic (formerly know as the Dapper Dan). He will be wrestling 120 for Team USA in that dual. He is just the 15th wrestler from Wisconsin to be invited to join team USA since the start of the event in 1975.Besides the many wrestling accomplishments Eric has become an excellent role model for younger wrestlers. Eric can often be seen at tournament talking with, and even wrestling with many youth wrestlers in attendance at the event. He does this openly and warmly and not just with Hortonville youth, but with youngsters from any of the other teams in attendance.Lastly Eric will be taking his talents to the University of Wisconsin and compete as a Badger next fall! I feel Eric is very deserving of the Wrestler of the Year honors!