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Boyceville second at Northern Badger; three bulldogs crowned champs

RIVER FALLS — Boyceville’s wrestling program has won a plethora of team titles throughout its storied history particularly in the past two and a half decades when it added several conference, regional and sectional championships along with a Division 3 state title won in 1996 to its collection.

But one prestigious gem has proved elusive – an overall Northern Badger championship.

Despite leading the 41-team field after the first day of competition, Boyceville saw its chances of finally capturing the coveted crown slip from its grasp during the second and final day of competition. Conference nemesis Spring Valley/Elmwood surpassed Boyceville in the final few rounds to take the overall championship by a slim 16 point margin – 314.5 to 298.5 – at the 31st annual Northern Badger Wrestling Classic held December 29 and 30 at River Falls High School. Boyceville finished with the same exact score a year ago.

“I felt confident going into the final day up 17 points,” stated Jamie Olson, Boyceville’s head coach. “But I also knew we had some really tough match ups in the semi-finals and wrestle backs.”

“I give Spring Valley a lot of credit, they out scored us by racking up bonus points on the second day. We also lost some really close matches in the wrestle backs – three in sudden death overtime,” continued Olson. “That was not the difference, but when you lose those tight matches it tends to take a little wind out of your sail.”

The Bulldogs, who had three individual titlists, finished as the tournament’s runner-up for the fifth time.

Spring Valley, the defending Division 3 state champion, had four individual winners that helped pace it to it’s second Northern Badger crown in three years.

While the top two spots went to Dunn-St. Croix schools, host and Big Rivers’ member River Falls placed third overall with a score of 234.5. Neillsville-Greenwood-Loyal (222) and Cumberland (213) round out the top five and were the only other schools to eclipse the 200-point mark. N-G-L took top honors in the Division 1 (large school standings) and the Beavers took home the Division 2 (medium school) plaque. Clear Lake was the small school (Division 3) winner with 170 points. Although River Falls, Spring Valley/Elmwood and Boyce-
ville finished atop their respective divisions (1, 2 and 3), their finishes as the top three overall teams prevented them from also taking home a divisional trophy.

Four Boyceville wrestlers made the championship match at their respective weight classes and three emerged victorious.

Junior Micah Johnson and sophomore Garrett Joles remained unbeaten on the season en route to individual championships at 170 and 182 pounds respectively. Senior heavyweight Brandon Windsor, with just one loss in 15 matches, took the title at 285 pounds. It was Johnson’s second Northern Badger Classic crown in three years and the first for both Windsor and Joles. All three went an unblemished 5-0 in the tournament.

“I was especially happy with Micah, Garrett and Brandon,” noted Olson. “These guys had outstanding performances.”

Fellow finalist James Palmer was denied a third consecutive Northern Badger championship. The Boyceville junior suffered his first loss of the season in a 6-1 setback to Johnson Creek’s Adam Becker  in the 138-pound championship.

In addition to those four, Boyceville had six other wrestlers finish with medals at this year’s Classic.

Brock Schlough (145) and Cody Frederick (152) each placed third, Dyllon Johnson took fifth at 120 pounds, Nick Goodell was eighth at 106, Justin Malean wrestled to tenth place at 160 and Noah Novotney finished 11th at 220 pounds.

Currently ranked atop the state’s Division 3 182-pound field by Wisconsin Wrestling Online, Boyceville sophomore Garrett Joles lived up to the honor with a string of dominating performances in this year’s tournament.

Joles remained unbeaten and moved to 21-0 on the young season with five convincing wins at last week’s Northern Badger competition. Those victories included three pins, a major decision and a convincing 10-3 triumph in the 182-pound championship.

“Garrett was solid throughout the tournament and he looked dominate in the finals against a tough opponent,” Olson stated.

In that title match, Joles saddled Flambeau Senior Rowdy Kochevar (15-1) with his first loss of the season. He also easily dispatched his semi-finals’ opponent Alec Kurtz of Rhinelander via a 13-2 major decision.

Joles registered three pins on the tournament’s first day including a 59-second pin of Osceola sophomore  Brett Carlson in the opening match. Garrett followed that with falls over Nick Filkens of Clear Lake (3:48) in the second round and Bloomer-Colfax’ Cole Olson at the 4:37 mark of the pair’s quarterfinal’s bout.

Despite missing the first few weeks of the season, junior Micah Johnson appeared in fine mid-season form as he too dominated the opposition on his way to a first-place finish at 170 pounds.

“Micah continues to get better every time he goes out,” said Olson. “And defeating Schlegel was a nice win for him.”

Schlegel would be Jed Schlegel, a Spring Valley senior and Johnson’s championship opponent Wednesday evening (Dec. 30) in River Falls.

Johnson scored all three of his points – an escape and takedown – in the second period and then held off Schlegel, who was seeded first, for the 3-1 gold-medal win.

Like Joles, Johnson had little trouble navigating his way to the finals. He too pocketed three pins and major decision in his first four matches.

In Tuesday’s opening round, it took Johnson just 3:06 to stick Mitchell Gunderson of Cadott. A 14-4 major over Prescott’s Mathew McNurlin followed before he capped the day with his second pin, a 2:21 fall over Hunter Hildebrandt of Spencer/Columbus Catholic in a quarterfinal match-up.

The third piece of Boyceville’s championship troika came in the final match of the tournament.

Senior Brandon Windsor scored an 8-2 victory of River Falls’ David Hennessey to capture the 285-pound championship.

After a first-round bye, Windsor stuck Daniel Enney of Barron in just 44 seconds and delivered an encore in his quarterfinal’s match with Durand’s Clay Peterson with a fall in 3:11.

The Bulldogs’ heavyweight was tested in the semifinals.

Nick Rueth of Neillsville-Greenwood-Loyal forced overtime but Windsor came through with a takedown and 4-2 victory in the first overtime period to gain a spot in the finals where he laid claim to his first NB crown.

“Brandon is one of the most improved guys on our team and what a tournament he had,” Olson succinctly stated. “I was so impressed with his conditioning and mat presence.”

James Palmer had aspirations of a third consecutive individual title when he kicked off Boyce-ville’s championship appearances Saturday at 138 pounds.

It proved a difficult task, however, as he was paired against top-ranked and once beaten Adam Becker of Johnson Creek in the title match.

Palmer wrestled hard but was unable to break through Becker’s defenses and fell 6-1 to finish second.

“James lost to one of the best wrestlers in the entire tournament,” said Olson. “Taking second in that loaded bracket was a great accomplishment.”

Despite the setback, Palmer boasts an impressive 19-2 mark after he went 4-1 at the Northern Badger. The junior scored pins over Darin Lewallen of Cameron (1:14) and Cadott’s Brandon Pederson (2:59) in the first two round of action.

In the quarterfinals, Palmer shut out St. Croix Falls’ Garrett Bergmann 15-0 to advance to the semis where he bested two-time state entrant Brady Simonson of Bloomer-Colfax 6-4.

Boyceville’s bronze medals went to a pair of underclassman.

Sophomore Cody Frederick placed third at 152 pounds while freshman standout Brock Schlough netted a third at 145 pounds in his first-ever Northern Badger outing. Both finished 4-1 in the two-day tournament.

Frederick continued to wrestle tough according to Coach Olson who described his finish as “impressive”.

The sophomore needed just 1:02 of work to advance through to the quarterfinals. Frederick stuck Cody Breaker of  Osseo-Fairchild/Augusta/Fall Creek in the first period of the opening round and then received a second-round bye.

In the quarters, Frederick defeated Donald Pooler of Northwestern 9-5.

But Frederick (19-10) suffered his first loss of the season in a 5-2 semi-final’s decision to Clay Carney of St. Croix Falls. Carney later lost to Spring Valley/Elmwood’s Cruze Hurlburt in the finals.

Frederick got back to his winning ways and ended the tournament on a high note thanks to a 5-3 win over Cadott’s James Pfeiffer for third place at 152 pounds.

Brock Schlough also responded well after dropping his first match of the season which also came in the semifinals.

The 19-match winning streak that punctuated the start of Schlough’s varsity career was snapped by a highly decorated senior from Johnson Creek. Three-time state medalist and defending D3, 138-pound state titlist Wilder Wichman defeated the Bulldog freshman 10-5.

But Schlough (20-1) did not go down without a fight as he took the champ down to the mat, an impressive feat for a talented neophyte against such an accomplished senior wrestler.

“What a performance by Brock Schlough!!” beamed Olson. “A freshman taking the defending state champion down and giving him all he wanted in that semi-final match was impressive.”

An adjective that could be used to aptly describe the entirety of Schlough’s inaugural effort at the Northern Badger Classic.

Schlough opened the tournament with pins over Ethan Luksich of Prescott (:30) and Cadott’s Tyler Gillett (3:40). He then scored a 16-0 technical fall shut out against Jeff Maynard of Melrose-Mindoro/GET in the quarterfinals. Schlough received a forfeit in the third-place match when Stetson Rueth from Neillsville-Greenwood-Loyal was not able to wrestle.

But that was not the end of individual accolades for Boyceville. Four other Bulldog wrestlers made the medals stand.

Dyllon Johnson improved to 19-3 with a fantastic 5-1 showing at this year’s Northern Badger. Dyllon scored an 18-1 technical fall in the opening round and followed that with a 52-second pin. His lone loss came in the quarterfinals where he was pinned in 1:04 by eventual runner-up Reid Olson of Cumberland. But Johnson rebounded for three straight consolation wins including a 4-2 overtime victory and a 5-3 fifth-place win against Steven Moncada of Somerset.

“Dyllon showed a lot of heart coming back from a very disappointing quarterfinal match and taking 5th,” Olson commented. “He beat some very good wrestlers.”

Freshman Nick Goodell went 4-3 over two days and finished eighth at 106 pounds. Three of his four wins were by decision.

Justin Malean and Noah Novotney also finished the tournament with four wins against three defeats. Malean had a pair of major decisions en route to a tenth place showing at 160 pounds. Novotney had a fall and two decisions among his wins and took 11th at 220 pounds.

“I thought Goodell, Malean and Novotney all had fine performances in placing 8th, 10th and 11th,” said Olson. “These guys scored huge points for us in the wrestle backs.”

Jason Swanepoel (132), Jordan Morse (195) and Brock Swenson (126) did not place but did nice jobs and contributed to the team’s second-place finish noted Olson.

“I was very happy with the overall performance of the team. I thought our effort was consistent throughout, but we need to continue to get better in all phases of matches,” concluded Olson.

Boyceville will open its conference schedule at home this Thursday when it hosts  D-SC newcomer Durand and will then travel to Hudson on Saturday for an invitational.