Three Ellsworth wrestlers etch names into Panthers history

By Reagan Hoverman
Posted 3/1/23

All three of Ellsworth’s qualifiers for the 2023 WIAA State Individual Wrestling Tournament in Madison earned a top-six spot on the podium, which meant they will have their names etched into Panthers history upon their return to Ellsworth.

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Three Ellsworth wrestlers etch names into Panthers history


All three of Ellsworth’s qualifiers for the 2023 WIAA State Individual Wrestling Tournament in Madison earned a top-six spot on the podium, which meant they will have their names etched into Panthers history upon their return to Ellsworth.

The Ellsworth High School wrestling team has a longstanding tradition of putting the names of every state place winner on the wrestling wall forever. It gives current wrestlers and younger up-and-coming hopefuls something to strive for that will leave a permanent legacy in a historic program.

Ellsworth seniors Louis Jahnke, Anthony Madsen and junior William Penn will have their names added to the wall in keeping with tradition, as they all finished top six individually at the state championships in Madison on Saturday, Feb. 25.

Penn and Jahnke both finished fourth at 126 and 170 pounds respectively, while Madsen took home fifth place in the 182-pound bracket at the Kohl Center. Ellsworth head coach Mark Matzek spoke about their performance and the incentive of being a part of Panthers’ history.

We had a very good showing at the state tournament,” Matzek said. “Rarely does a team bring three to state and get all of them to place. At the end of our workout on Tuesday at school they all took one last look at the wall of past state place winners and decided they were going to add their names to it, and they did. These three were determined and wrestled like it. They were very fun to coach this weekend.”

While all three made it to the podium on Saturday afternoon, Jahnke was Ellsworth’s lone sectional champion going into the state tournament. His championship status earned him a first-round bye at state, so his first match was in the quarterfinals against Freedom senior Jack Van Rossum.

Jahnke dug deep against the Freedom senior and secured a 7-6 win by decision and advanced to the semifinals against Northwestern senior Tanner Kaufman, who Jahnke had pinned to claim the sectional time in Amery two weeks ago.

This time Kaufman bested Jahnke in a 6-4 decision, which sent the Ellsworth senior co-captain to the consolation bracket. Once there, Jahnke won his first match via pinfall and then lost in the third-place match, which secured his fourth-place finish and a place on the podium.

Coach Matzek spoke about Jahnke’s tournament and his pin to advance to the third-place match, which set Ellsworth’s single-season record for pinfall victories.

“Louis had a tremendous senior year,” Matzek said. “We knew going into his first match he was going to have a battle for every point to beat the Freedom kid and he did. He dropped a tough match in the semis and came back on Saturday with a pin, which sets the unofficial pin record with 29. It’s quite the feat to hold the pin record in this program.”

While Jahnke was setting records, Ellsworth’s other co-captain, the aforementioned Madsen, worked toward a fifth-place finish in the 182-pound bracket. After winning via pinfall less than 90 seconds into the first period of his debut match, Madsen caught a tough break with his second-round matchup.

Madsen advanced to the quarterfinals, where he lost a 7-0 decision against Amery junior Wyatt Ingham, who won his following two matches and claimed the 182-pound state championship. Madsen won his first match in the consolation bracket which secured his fifth-place finish.

“Anthony also had a tremendous season,” Matzek said. “He started his tournament this weekend with a fall, then wrestled the eventual state champion and put his name on the wall with a 7-0 victory in the first consolation round. He wrestled tough all weekend.”

Ellsworth’s final state place winner is the aforementioned Penn, who finished fourth in the 126-pound bracket. Penn got his tournament started with a 12-2 major decision victory in the opening round against Prairie du Chien junior Drake Ingham.

Penn lost a 9-2 decision in the quarterfinals to Neillsville senior Luke Dux, who entered the state tournament with an impeccable 35-1 record for the 2022-23 season. Penn won his first two consolation matches by decision before losing a tough 2-1 contest in the third-place match.

His efforts in the consolation bracket secured Penn a fourth-place finish and a place on the podium at the Kohl Center. Matzek spoke about Penn’s state tournament and how the experience will help him next year as he goes into his senior campaign.

“Willy was in some tough situations in that match but willed his way to a win and put his name on the wall,” Matzek said. “This tournament will give him confidence and momentum going into next year. Just like Anthony and Louis, Willy is a tireless worker and he was rewarded for his efforts this weekend.”

While Penn will return for another season next winter, Jahnke and Penn officially ended their high school wrestling careers in Madison on Saturday afternoon. Matzek spoke about the two senior captains and their impact on the program.

“We will miss these two senior captains,” Matzek said. “They were the epitome of hard work and toughness in our room. The younger wrestlers could always look to them on what to do and how to hold themselves.”

While Matzek and the greater Ellsworth community will give the three wrestlers extensive well-deserved credit, some of the assistant coaches on the staff won’t see nearly as much, and Matzek wants to change that.

“A huge piece of these guys’ success is attributed to their workout partners and coaches Roarke Langer and Owen Matzek,” Mark Matzek said. “Wrestling is somewhat unique in the way that coaches participate in practice with the athletes. A program needs to have younger coaches like them to push athletes in their training. I had coaches like them when I went through high school and college and they are invaluable to a program.”

With the full support of the coaching staff and the greater Ellsworth community, Jahnke, Madsen and Penn have etched their names into Panthers’ wrestling history forever.

Ellsworth, Ellsworth Wrestling, Panthers, WIAA State Wrestling