RIVER FALLS – When Boyceville senior Josh Cormican stepped to the very top of the awards podium and accepted the gold medal and weight chart as the 160-pound Northern Badger champion last Saturday the wide grin on his face was undeniable.
Years of frustration at the annual holiday wrestling tournament were erased in that moment.
A year after settling for the silver in a disheartening overtime championship loss at 145 pounds, Cormican made the most of his final appearance and wrapped a late Christmas gift to himself in the form of a thrilling and hard-fought 1-0 championship decision over St. Croix Central’s Carl Moll during the 2012 Northern Badger Wrestling Classic that ran Friday and Saturday, December 28 and 29 at River Falls High School.
“Josh wrestled almost flawless all the way through,” said Jamie Olson, Boyceville’s head coach. “He went the full time in that last match (finals) but otherwise he pinned or teched a pretty good group of kids on his way through.”
“He is wrestling really, really well right now and it is fun to watch him,” Olson added. “He is really determined right now and has worked very hard to get to this point in his career and finish on top.”
Boyceville nearly had another wrestler glean gold at this year’s Northern.
Dominic Olson had a stellar two-day tournament that was capped by an appearance in the championship match at 138 pounds. Olson, who had won nailbiters in both his quarter- and semifinal matches, could not overcome the fundamentally-sound Adam Holmquist and lost an 8-2 decision to take second.
“Dominic, like Josh (those two work out together), is very focused and has turned the corner from last year,” noted Olson.
The Bulldogs had three other grapplers make the first-day cut and place at the 28th annual Northern Badger. Wyatt Hansen won three straight matches to make the semifinals but lost his final two and finished fourth at 145 pounds. Austin Wolfe and Brock Swenson both placed sixth at their respective weight classes of 106 and 113.
But those top-notch performances were just not enough to propel the Bulldogs into contention for a top five spot this year. Boyceville finished tenth with 178.5 points and was third in Division 3 behind D-SC foes Glenwood City (192.5) and Spring Valley/Elmwood (179.5). St. Croix Central finished second overall with 222.5 points, second only to tournament champion Clear Lake, who tallied a hefty 285 points.
“Our goal is always the top five which I would say was a realistic goal,” stated Coach Olson. “But Logan McAbee-Thomas did not wrestle for us this weekend due to knee surgery. He would have given us several points at 170.”
“Finishing in the top ten is good but not where we want to be,” added Olson. “Our kids need to step up a bit because there were three conference teams that placed ahead of us this weekend – Central, Spring Valley and Glenwood.”
If the Bulldogs need a guide on how to do that, they have no further to look than senior teammate Josh Cormican.
“He is wrestling really, really well right now and it is fun to watch him,” Olson said of Cormican., “He is really determined right now and has worked very hard to get to this point in his career and finish on top.”
“He has the edge, which is great. Good wrestlers have that edge but it is good he can use composure on the mat now and not think about some of that other stuff.”
That “other stuff” would be the slaps and punches that Moll was sending Cormican’s way in the championship match. In previous years, that tactic might have angered the Boyceville wrestler. But not this year, not at this tournament.
Cormican coolly shrugged off the insults, and stayed focus on the task – winning a Northern Badger title. Cormican was intelligent and sly and needed just a third period escape to win the crown. Once in the lead, Cormican kept Moll off balance until the third period horn sounded for a 1-0 victory and the coveted crown was his.
Of course, Cormican’s other four matches at this year’s NB were not so close. He scored pins in three of his first four matches including a first-period pin of Flambeau’s Jordan Bainter in the semifinals. He tech falled Richard Klaver of Rhinelander 16-0 in the quarterfinals.
Dominic Olson’s road to the finals was a bit more tenuous than Cormican’s but nonetheless satisfying. After opening the tournament with a round one pin at 138 pounds, Olson qualified for the quarterfinals with a 12-5 win over Alex Reas of Rhinelander. He then survived not one but two heart-stopping matches as he beat Somerset’s Bobby Leroy 10-9 in the quarterfinals. Then he had to go into overtime in his semifinal match against Tristan Brewer of Luck/Frederic/ Grantsburg to win 6-4.
“Dominic Olson wrestled a great tournament,” Olson stated. “He beat a really good kid in the quarters and then Bobby Leroy of Somerset was the number two seed and ranked high in the state and Olson beat him in a 10-9 barn-burner of a match was exciting.”
Olson squared off against Glenwood City’s Adam Holmquist in the finals. The two-time Northern Badger champion never gave Olson an opening to attack. Despite great effort, Olson lost his bid for a gold medal and the match, 8-2.
“Holmquist is so solid in all areas of wrestling and strong,” Olson said. “He just does not make mistakes.”
Wyatt Hansen parlayed a first-round 6-4 win over Trent Smith of St. Croix Central into a semifinal appearance at 145 pounds with pin falls in his next two matches. Hansen was teched, 20-4, by Tyler Weyer in the semifinals and then lost a close 4-2 decision for third place to Zach Newton of Spring Valley/Elmwood.
Sophomore Austin Wolfe and freshman Brock Swenson each secured sixth place finishes – Wolfe at 106 pounds and Swenson at 113.
Boyceville will kick off the new year January 5 when it travels to the Hudson Invite.