by Al Zipsie

The Lena-Winslow/Stockton co-op won its first wrestling State championship in school history Saturday.

The team finished as state runner-up in 2012. It's the fifth straight year a NUIC school won the 1A state title. With Dakota winning the last four straight years, it was the Panther/Hawks turn as they dethroned Dakota.

Lena/Winslow/Stockton (33-1) were led by nine wrestlers who qualified for individual state and a trio of third placers in Hunter Luke at 132 lbs., Rahveon Valentine at 170 lbs. and Ian Kuehl who all recorded pins in the final.

The Panther/Hawks won an exciting 40-36 match over Litchfield for the championship. It saw several lead changes until LW/Stock got huge falls from Winston McPeek at 126 lbs. and Luke at 132 lbs. to take the lead for good at 40-30.

With the victory clinched, the Panther/Hawks forfeited at 138 lbs. to win 40-36. At 138 lbs., Jeremiah Hermann had won his first two matches.

Lena-Winslow/Stockton had routs over Vandalia 54-28 in the quarterfinal and Beardstown 53-16 in the semifinal.

Even though they fell behind in the title dual, they bounced back to regain the lead. Key wins also came from Austin Vincent at 113 lbs., Kyle Kalkrenner at 160 lbs. and Connor Davis at 195 lbs.