OSSEO – This year’s sectional tournament was a bit of the unknown for Boyceville’s veteran wrestling coach Jamie Olson and his participating grapplers.
Boyceville sent six wrestlers to the 2013 WIAA Division 3 Individual Wrestling Sectional hosted by Independence at Osseo-Fairchild High School last Saturday, February 16. That much Olson was sure of!
But he was not certain on how many would make it through and qualify for the state tournament.
“Three was kind of a question mark,” noted Olson.
That question would be answered by tournament’s end as the Bulldogs had four of its sectional contingent earn berths in the state championships.
“It was a great day,” stated Olson in retrospect. “I am real happy. To get four (state qualifiers) was fantastic. I am really happy for Austin Wolfe and Bryor Hellmann to make it through here and Josh and Dominic looked really good here today.”
Josh and Dominic are, of course, seniors Josh Cormican and Dominic Olson. The pair both won individual sectional championships last Saturday in Osseo. Cormican took the gold at 152 pounds while Olson ruled his 132-pound bracket.
Cormican earned his third consecutive trip but first as a sectional champion to the WIAA State Wrestling Championships which begin this Thursday, Feb. 21 at the Kohl Center in Madison and continue through the championship matches Saturday night, February 23. Olson also laid claim to his only sectional title in his first and final sectional appearance.
The senior duo will be joined by junior Bryor Hellmann and sophomore Austin Wolfe after each finished in third place at 160 and 106 pounds respectively and qualified for state in their first attempt.
Boyceville’s other two, first-time sectional participants were unable to grapple up state berths.
Jon Harnisch, who wrestled at 138 pounds, scored a 4-2 decision in his first-ever sectional match but then lost 6-2 to Spencer Bisek of Arcadia in the semifinal round followed by a gut-wrenching 2-0 loss to Unity’s Tevin Anderson which eliminated the Boyceville junior. Freshman heavyweight Jake Lake surrendered a pair of pins in his first sectional tournament.
“It was a good day for us,” said Olson, even in defeat. “Jon Harnisch battled and wrestled well and Jake Lake is a freshman in a heavyweight weight class that was loaded with good wrestlers. He got some great experience today.”
The day, however, did not look so rosy at the onset.
Bryor Hellmann suffered a 17-16 setback in his 160-pound quarterfinal’s match against Ross Peterson of Ladysmith.
That loss was like a punch to the Bulldogs’ collective mid-section.
“We lost a heartbreaker to start the day out with Bryor at 160,” said Olson. “That one took a lot of wind out of me. It was a back-and-forth battle and Bryor just missed getting a takedown at the end and it could have went either way.”
“Starting the day out like that was like ‘ugh’ are we going to be able to bounce back and is Bryor going to be able to bounce back?” stated Olson. “That not only took the wind out of me, but Bryor and the other kids. But Bryor and the kids responded well.”
They did indeed.
Hellmann would win his next two matches but fall to secure third place and a state berth and he nearly grappled second but lost a tight 11-9 decision in the second-place wrestleback to Damen Feiertag of Cumberland.
Cormican (45-1) and Olson (37-4) were the only members of Boyceville’s sectional crew to make the finals and once there neither was going to be denied.
Cormican’s third sectional appearance proved to be the charm. Cormican began the tournament with a quick pin in the quarterfinals. He stuck Cameron’s Alex Schutt in 1:04. He then turned his attention to Tim Ferdon of Whitehall and blanked the fellow senior 10-0 in the semfinal.
There would be some moments of concern in the championship match when Cormican took a knee to head while wrestling Jerry Hotelling of Arcadia. Cormican was dazed for a few minutes but was able to clear his head and the final sectional hurdle for a 7-5 win and the coveted 152-pound gold medal.
“That Arcadia kid was strong, lanky and good on the mat,” Olson noted. “He kind of clashed with Josh’s style on the mat.”
“We were so close to turning him a couple of times and did not get it,” added Olson. “The kid kept it close but Josh wrestled hard as usual and won a tough match. But that was good, you need those type of matches heading to state.”
Olson breezed through the first, two round of competition at 132 pounds. He scored a 16-0 tech fall over Joey Sherwood of Cumberland to open his competition. Then in the semis, Olson pinned Arcadia’s Alex Glodowski in just 1:20. Glodowski had entered the match with just two losses in 44 previous matches. He would carry that momentum into the finals against Matt Massman of Blair-Taylor. Olson took the top position to open the second period and blew open a scoreless championship bout with a pair of three-point near falls and a two-point near fall to take a 8-1 lead into the final stanza. He would go on to defeat Massman 9-3 for the crown.
“Dominic has been good on top all year for us,” Olson stated. “That was huge to rack up some near fall points. It kind of broke the kid, broke his spirit and that makes it a lot easier in the third period.”
“I am really happy for Dominic to win this in a tough weight class,” added Olson. “A great kid that has worked really, really hard.”
Hard work also paid dividends for the Bulldogs Austin Wolfe and Bryor Hellmann. Each recovered from quarterfinals matches to win a pair of matches and secure a spot in the state tournament.
Unlike Hellmann’s close loss in the opener, Austin Wolfe had to quick forget an 18-7 setback to eventual 106-pound champion Nick Burns from LaCrosse Aquinas. The Bulldog sophomore did just that with a quick (1:04) pin of Clear Lake’s Ach Elmer in the consolation round and followed it with a huge 13-1 major decision over Nate Leipart of Phillips in the third place match. Wolfe had a chance for second but was beaten by Austin Najbrt of Cadott for a second straight week. Najbrt, who beat Wolfe 13-7 in the regional championship the previous week, won the wrestleback via fall in 3:09.
Hellmann seems to have returned from a late session concussion better than ever. Hellmann continued to wrestle well last Saturday even after the heartbreaking one-point quarterfinal’s loss at 160. He rebounded to score second period pins over Auston Stenger of Aquinas in the consolation round and Lee Pronschinske of Arcadia in the third-place match. He nearly pulled out a second-place finish as he took Damen Feiertag to the final whistle before falling 11-9.
“To get a couple of underclassmen (Hellmann and Wolfe) down there (Madison) is big for us,” stated Olson.
Hellmann and Wolfe will both be competing in the Division 3 preliminary round that begins at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21. If the pair can get wins, they would join Cormican and Olson in the quarterfinals which are slated to begin around 11:15 a.m. Friday.