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Glenwood grapplers finish 13th at Northern Badger

RIVER FALLS — For a second straight year, Glenwood City had four wrestlers finish in the medals at last week’s  Northern Badger Wrestling Classic.

While that may not seem like much of an improvement, the Hilltoppers finish at the 31st annual tournament  held Tuesday and Wednesday, December 29 and 30 at River Falls High School was leaps and bounds ahead of 29th place showing Glenwood City posted in 2014.

A year ago, the Hilltoppers’ best medals’ finish, turned in by then sophomore Jake O’Meara, was a seventh place finisher. In this most recent Northern Badger Wrestling Classic, that was Glenwood City’s lowest finish among its medalists.

Sophomore Jacob Nadeau placed fourth at 106 pounds to lead the quartet. Senior Hogan Chouinard earned fifth at 195 pounds after taking 11th in last year’s 220-pound field. Marcus Ullom’s finish improved four spots this year to earn sixth at 132 pounds and Carson Strong, who was sidelined all of last season by a torn ACL, took seventh at 126 pounds.

The cumulative effect of those finishes along with the dozen points provided by the Toppers’ eight other wrestlers doubled the squad’s point total and finish at the 2015 event.

Glenwood City scored 120.5 points to finish 13th in this year’s 41-team field and a second-place showing in the final Division 3 (small school) standings behind winner Clear Lake with 170.

“Overall, I’m pleased with how we wrestled,” said Glenwood City coach Shane Strong. “Our goal was to finish in the top 10 as a team but we came up short finishing 13th.”

The team wrestled without Jake O’Meara at 145 and 182-pounder Jake Logghe. O’Meara is expected to return to the lineup soon but Logghe was lost for the season with a shoulder injury suffered at the John Timm Duals.

Despite those injuries, Strong felt his team left too many points on the mat.

“We need to be more aggressive and look to score more points on our feet,” stated Strong. “We also lost some matches in the tournament where we were winning and didn’t finish for the win. Those types of matches take team points away from you.”

“The Northern Badger is a tough tournament and is a great measuring stick for both the individuals and team,” added Strong. “We can learn a great deal about ourselves and where we need to improve in the next month.”

A pair of fellow Dunn-St. Croix squads copped the top two spots in the overall team standings.

Defending conference and Division 3 state champion Spring Valley/Elmwood claimed its second Northern Badger crown in three seasons with 314.5 while Boyceville finished as the runner-up after tallying 298.5. River Falls, the tournaments host school, finished third with 234.5 points. Divisional titles were taken by Neillsville-Greenwood-Loyal (222 points to lead Division 1 or large schools), Cumberland (213 in Division 2) and Clear Lake. Neillsville and Cumberland also finished fourth and fifth respectively in the overall standings.

Taking advantage of a pair of falls and a second-round bye, Jacob Nadeau made his way to the semi-finals in the 106-pound bracket. The sophomore needed just 22 seconds to score a pin over Cameron’s David Meznarich in his first match of the tournament. Following a bye, Nadeau scored another pin, this time ending his match against Logan Steglich of Cumberland at the 5:24 mark.

Unbeaten and crowd-favorite Zach Anglin of Bayfield/Washburn nipped Nadeau 3-2  in the semi-finals. Nadeau then fell for the second time in the tournament with a 6-3 loss to Phillips Javyn Freeman in the third-place match.

“Jake wrestled very well,” said Strong of Nadeau’s fourth-place finish.

Hogan Chouinard also had a fine tournament in his Northern Badger “Swan Song”. The Toppers’ senior lead the team in wins as he finished 5-1 and in fifth place at 195 pounds.

“Hogan wrestled a great tournament.” Strong said.

The lone loss was a heartbreaking 14-12 quarterfinal’s decision to eventual runner-up Matthew Williamson of River Falls.

Four of Hogan’s wins were pins – two in the first period and the other two in the second periods. He opened with a 1:17 pin of Brock Phernetton of Luck/Frederic/Grantsburg/Siren and then needed all of 42 ticks to put Flambeau’s Krishon Williams on the mat.

Chouinard rebounded with pins of 2:27 and 2:32 against Lucas Ingold of Neillsville-Greenwood-Loyal and Prescott’s Ty Sanford respectively. In his final match, Hogan held off Colton Krueger of Rhinelander, 11-8, to lock down fifth place.

Marcus Ullom and Carson Strong finished with identical 4-2 marks but ended up one place finish apart.

Ullom, who entered the tournament unbeaten and seeded number one at 132 pounds, started with a pair of pin falls. The Glenwood City junior stuck Boyceville’s Jason Swanepoel in the first round. He then scored a pin against St. Croix Falls’ Josey Wilson and moved on to the quarterfinals.

There he was paired with freshman Zach Pooler of Northwestern. A 4-2 overtime loss knocked Ullom into the consolation bracket where he pinned Logan Bauer of Durand in 3:54 and scored an 8-0 win over Clear Lake’s Nick Sempf for a shot at fifth place.

Michael Slagel from Chetek-Weyerhaeuser/Prairie Farm caught Ullom late in the first period and pinned him to take fifth.

“Marcus Ullom wrestled well and was an overtime loss away from the semi-finals,” noted Strong. “Again, we left points on the mat that I believe Marcus will score as the year progresses. He is the kind of kid that will come back and work harder to improve on his feet.”

Carson Strong could have easily finished higher in the 126-pounds standing but learned how one mistake can prove costly.

Strong, competing in his first Northern Badger, easily passed through the first two rounds with a 44-second pin of Tate Olson from Lakeland and a 11-2 major decision over St. Croix Central’s Frank Holter.

Rhinelander’s Alec Modrow scored a first-period pin against Strong in their quarterfinal’s match. Strong came back to win a 21-4 technical fall over Hunter Kautz of Osceola only to fall in the next round to Preston Anez of Somerset via pin after leading 10-1. Instead of a fifth place match, Carson Strong went for seventh, where he picked up an 8-0 shut out win over Dalton Langer of St. Croix Falls.

“Carson also had a good tournament,” noted his Coach and father. “He lost a match that he was winning 10-1, making a mistake in a position that cost him a higher placement. But he bounced back to earn some quality wins in his first Northern Badger.”

Although neither placed, sophomores Austin Curvello and Jake Kopacz each won a pair of matches to finish 2-2 at the Badger. Curvello moved up one weight class to 113 pounds while Kopacz wrestled at 170 pounds.

Spencer Peterson finished 1-2 at 160 pounds winning a 5-1 decision in the consolation round. Cody Bonte (152), Brad Kessler (120) and David Hoffman also went 1-2 with byes. Collin Schone finished 0-2 at 220 pounds.

The Hilltoppers will hit the mats again this Saturday when they travel to Cadott for an individual tournament.