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Glenwood City wins wrestling thriller in Boyceville, down ‘Dogs 43-36

Adam Holmquist scores 150th Match

BOYCEVILLE – When Hunter Chouinard scored an overtime takedown at 145 pounds to defeat Jonathan Harnisch, 4-2, the win not only handed Glenwood City a much needed Dunn-St. Croix wrestling dual victory but an accomplishment that the program has not enjoyed in more than two decades.

The Hilltoppers’ thrilling 43-36 victory over the Bulldogs last Thursday, January 17 was Glenwood’s first dual win in Boyceville since a 35-25 triumph engineered by the late Phil Ottney back on December 14, 1989.

To be honest, Glenwood City has been hard pressed to claim wins of any kind, let alone those on the road, against its top rival during that 24-year span.

Boyceville has dominated the match-up the past two and a half decades enroute to claiming 14 conference championships including a eight in a nine-year period (2001 – 2009).

In fact, the Hilltoppers have just six wins, including last week’s, in that period: a 37-17 win in January of 1993; a 31-23 January victory two years later ; a 60-11 drubbing in January of 1999; and a 37-25 triumph three years ago January 7.  All those victories came in Glenwood City. But only the wins in 1989 and 2010 led to conference championships.

The squads also battled to a 33-33 tie in dual held in Elmwood in January of 2000, which was Boyceville head coach Jamie Olson’s first year. The Toppers also won the Dunn-St. Croix crown that season.

Whether there is a title on the line or not, when Boyceville and Glenwood City come together on the wrestling mat you’re almost always guaranteed a nailbiter that goes down to the final matches before a victor is determined.

And last Thursday’s annual renewal was no different. Glenwood City sprinted to a 40-18 advantage but the Boyceville came back to within four points, 40-36, before Chouinard’s overtime win put the win in the Toppers hands.

“It was great for the kids to wrestle in front of a big crowd and high intensity match,” said Boyceville head coach Jamie Olson. “Our middle school gym provides a great atmosphere for wrestling. Fans are right on top of the action, add the spot light and music and you have perfect setup for exciting D-SC wrestling.”

“The dual was great for high school wrestling,” added Olson. “I would guess to say there weren’t too many duals in this part of the state that had the atmosphere we had. We’re lucky to have two quality programs eight miles apart. Both programs look forward to the rival dual each year and it just makes both of us better.”

In a chess match between two master strategists, Glenwood City’s Shane Strong prevailed as his moves produced the most advantageous match-ups for the Hilltoppers and his wrestlers delivered with some key wins and pins.

“The key to close duals is match-ups,” said Glenwood City coach Shane Strong. “We were confident after losing two duals by one match in consecutive weeks. We focused on finishing shots and staying tough on top.”

Strong moved several of his middle and upper weight wrestlers up a weight class and sometimes more to get the match-up that gave the Toppers the best shot at the victory.

“We were planning on moving up at 152 to get a match up with Cormican at 160,” said Strong.

Adam Holmquist moved from his 138-pound slot to take on Boyceville’s Wyatt Hansen in the match’s opening weight class of 152 pounds.

Holmquist jumped to a 5-0 lead in the first with a takedown and three-point near fall in the opening minute of the match. Hansen would earn a second-period escape but Holmquist would add another takedown before the end of the middle frame to make it 7-1. Holmquist scored a reversal early in the third period and went on to record a 9-1 major decision and his 150th career victory – a Glenwood City wrestling record.

An Austin Moe-Josh Cormican match-up at 160 pounds would not transpire.

Instead, an ailing Austin Moe drew the Bulldogs’ Bryor Hellmann at 160. Despite battling the flu, Moe showed the grit of a two-time state champion and scored a quick takedown and added two- and three-point near falls before he scored the fall with ten seconds remaining in the first period to give the Hilltoppers a 10-0 lead.

Boyceville’s Josh Cormican stayed at 170 and delivered a pin for the Bulldogs’ first points of the dual. Cormican took control of the match early but was only able to score a takedown against Topper Blayze Wood in the first period.

Cormican would add to his tally in the second with a takedown and a two-point near fall. An unsportsmanlike conduct call against Cormican gave Wood a point near the end of the middle period. A reversal and yet another two-point near fall extended Cormican’s advantage to 10-1. The end would come with 50 second left as Cormican scored the fall.

Boyceville hoped to get on a winning streak as Logan McAbee-Thomas returned to action at 182 pounds after missing a few weeks with a knee injury. But Glenwood City and Brennan Kessler had other ideas.

The match would flip flop as the wrestlers exchanged points. First Kessler, scored a takedown and two-point near fall for a 4-0 lead in the first period. Then McAbee-Thomas countered with a reversal and near fall for two points to knot the score at four all in the second period.

But Kessler would stun McAbee-Thomas, the Boyceville bench, and crowd with a reversal that put McAbee-Thomas on his back and quickly yielded a pin at 2:52.

Kessler initiated a cascade of Hilltopper pins – four straight – that would take visiting Glenwood City to 34-6 lead.

Isaac Tuttle was in the Glenwood City lineup for the first time this season after missing the first half with a broken hand suffered in football this past fall. Tuttle, who weighed in just over 172 pounds, jumped all the way to 195 pounds to duel the Bulldogs’ Dylan Windsor.

Tuttle was the aggressor from the opening whistle and scored a quick takedown and three-point near fall before he got the stick at 1:28.

Boyceville’s Will Kraft was seeing his first varsity action of the year but his debut would not be as successful as Tuttle’s.

Kraft took the early action to Donovan Fornal of Glenwood City in the pair’s match at 220 pounds. Kraft jumped to a 5-0 lead with a takedown and three-point near fall but Fornal responded with a reversal and a two-point near fall to get to within a point.

Kraft would extend his lead to six with a second-period takedown and another three-point near fall. But Fornal would regain the upper hand and eventually the win with a reversal, two-point  near fall that led into a pin at 3:10.

The Kessler and Fornal pins proved to be pivotal turning points in the match and key components to the Glenwood City triumph.

“We are very confident in how they (Kessler and Fornal) are wrestling,” said Shane Strong. “We felt Donovan had a very good chance to wrestle a good match and win against Kraft. Kraft is strong and athletic but Donovan has been working hard to face these challenges.”

“Brennan is getting better every week and we really like how he is wrestling right now.”

“There were some key match-ups in the upper weights that went their way,” commented Boyceville coach Jamie Olson. “We had our chances in a couple of those and just couldn’t finish them off. We need to make a few adjustments on staying in good position when we have pinning combinations secured.”

“Kraft and McAbee haven’t been on the mat for awhile but they looked great!” continued Olson. “We just need to correct a few minor things. They are going to be huge factors in our success down the road. I’m really happy they are back in the line-up.”

“Both are great athletes that just need to fine tune some technique and positioning,” Olson added. “They will be just fine. I give Kessler and Fornal credit for capitalizing on our mistakes.”

The Topper run was not yet complete. Senior Kyle Peterson would pin Boyceville freshman Jake Lake in 1:35 of the 285-pound match to boost the Glenwood City lead to 34-6.

As they say, things always look darkest before the dawn. And Boyceville’s dawn and comeback bid began at 106 pounds where Austin Wolfe received a forfeit breaking the Toppers’ four-match win streak.

It took the Bulldogs’ Sawyer Swenson just 37 seconds to pick up six points with a pin of Toppers’ freshman Damian Hoitomt at 113 pounds.

Now down 34-18, Boyceville’s hopes of victory sat on a razor’s edge when the Toppers’ other two-time state titlist, Riley Knops, scored the fall over Boyceville freshman Brock Swenson in 3:07. Knops’ victory at 120 pounds had the Toppers ahead 40-18 and just a decision away from securing the dual win.

That win appeared at hand in the very next match.

Jake Carlson of Glenwood City would take an early 2-0 lead in his 126-pound match against Boyceville’s James Lindo. But Lindo would take the lead back before the close of the first two-minute period on penalty point and reversal. But Carlson would score a two-point near fall in the second and a takedown in the third for a 6-3 lead. The lead and eventually the match would slip from Carlson’s grasp as Lindo scored a reversal and then the pin with just 15 second left in the match to ignite the Boyceville wrestlers and fans.

Dominic Olson would rush to a 5-0 lead over the Toppers’ Clarence Rogers before he registered the pin at 132 pounds.

Looking for that final match-win to lock up the dual, the Toppers would again be denied by the Bulldogs at 138 pounds.

Jordan Morse turned around a 3-2 deficit when he scored a takedown of Billy Norenberg of Glenwood City and pinned him midway through the second period. The partisan Boyceville crowd erupted as the Bulldogs had closed to within four points, 40-36, with the Morse win.

“That said a lot about our team,” said Olson of the Bulldogs’ rally. “Most teams would have folded up and gotten blown out. The character of our guys really showed and I was happy about the grit and desire down the stretch.

“Especially at 126, with James Lindo. What a great comeback against a pretty solid wrestler. It gave us a chance. Jordan Morse also did a great job, being thrown in the fire and getting a big pin,” Olson added.

The entire night’s effort for both teams would comedown to one match – the final match at 145 pounds.

Hunter Chouinard simply had to win for a Glenwood City victory while Jonathan Harnisch had to win by technical fall or pin to give Boyceville the win.

Hunter Chouinard started fast as he tried to end the match and the Boyceville rally in the first few moments with a takedown and came close to turning his opponent Jonathan Harnisch. But like a true Bulldog, Harnisch was stubborn and would not give ground the rest of regulation. And when Chouinard was tagged for an illegal hold and grabbing the head gear at the end of the first period, the match was tied at two.

The score would remain knotted at two through regulation which forced overtime. Harnisch would literally need a pin to win the dual for Boyceville while Chouinard simply needed a win to give Glenwood City its first win at Boyceville in 24 years.

Chouinard would score the takedown with 24 ticks left in the one-minute OT session to give Glenwood City a 43-36 win.

“Hunter came up big,” Strong stated. “We felt he could wrestle well at 145 and he delivered.”

“Both kids battle their hearts out,” said Coach Olson of that final match. “That’s what it’s all about.”

“The mindset going in was very different for both kids,” explained Olson. “When you have to tech or get a pin you tend to press a little bit. Jon is one of our hardest workers.  It will make him better. He gave us everything he had. I’m proud of him for that, it just didn’t work out this time.”

The win breaks a two-dual conference losing streak for the Hilltoppers, who are now 1-2 in the Dunn-St. Croix while Boyceville went to 1-1 with the loss.

Glenwood City will have this week off as they prepare to wrap up the regular season next Tuesday, January 29 when it hosts Mondovi in the final conference dual. Boyceville has two remaining conference tilts. Both matches are on the road beginning this Thursday at St. Croix Central before traveling to Elmwood on Jan. 29 to face three-time conference champion Spring Valley/Elmwood.