Hilltoppers to take two wrestlers to sectionals
CADOTT — After an outstanding regular season, Glenwood City’s wrestlers were looking to build upon that momentum in the WIAA tournament series.
That first step in that journey began this past Saturday in Cadott at the WIAA Division 3 Regional competition. Eleven Toppers entered the day with aspirations of moving another step closer to a state tournament berth.
But only two cleared the first hurdle and qualified for 2016 WIAA Division 3 Individual Wrestling Sectional to be held this Saturday, February 20 at Osseo-Fairchild High School.
Sophomore Jacob Nadeau and junior Marcus Ullom each finished as runners-up in their respective weight classes of 106 and 138 pounds at the WIAA Division 3 Wrestling Regional held last Saturday, February 13 at Cadott High School to qualify for their first sectional tournament.
Five other Glenwood City wrestlers just missed the cut, finishing in third place. Only the top two place winners in each of the 14 weight classes advanced to the individual sectional tournament.
Juniors Jake O’Meara (152 pounds) and Spencer Peterson (160), sophomores Jake Kopacz (170) and Carson Strong (126) and senior Hogan Chouinard (195) had bronze-medal finishes in Cadott. It had to be exceptionally bittersweet for the Chouinard, who was the Hilltoppers’ lone sectional representative last season.
Three of those five – Chouinard, Strong and Peterson – all suffered one-point losses in the semifinals.
“We lost some key matches in the semifinal round that really hurt our chances to advance as individuals,” Glenwood City head coach Shane Strong stated. “Our biggest weakness this (past) weekend was our inability to score from our feet. We didn’t seem aggressive on our leg attacks. It is so important to compete with a mentality to score points and win. At times it seemed like we were wrestling “not to lose” rather than wrestling to win.”
This year’s regional tournament once again featured one of the strongest and toughest groupings of Division 3 wrestlers in the state that witnessed the abrupt end of many fine wrestlers’ seasons including Glenwood City’s other four regional competitors.
Dan Taylor (113) and Cole Smith (132) finished fourth, Brad Kessler (120) took fifth and Bryce Fayerweather (220) was sixth. For a second straight regional, Glenwood City had open weight classes that included 145, 182 and 285 pounds.
“We set a goal to finish in the top three of this tournament,” said Strong.
The Hilltoppers fell just short of that goal as they finished fourth in the seven-team regional field, two spots above last season’s sixth-place showing. Glenwood City, who have been an honorable mention in the state’s D3 team rankings for much of the season, tallied 123.5 points. All three teams that finished ahead of the Toppers are ranked among the top twelve.
Defending Division 3 state champion Spring Valley/Elmwood, currently seated sixth in the most recent state polls, captured its fourth straight regional crown and the berth in the team sectional that was held in Boyce-ville last evening (Feb. 16). The Cardinals racked up 274 points to beat four-time runner-up Boyce-ville. The Bulldogs finished with 239 points. 12th-ranked Clear Lake took third with 163 points. Host Cadott finished fifth with 109 points, Cornell/Gilman/Lake Holcombe was sixth after tallying 76 points and Eau Claire Regis finished last with 17 points.
The Toppers’ season will continue with Nadeau and Ullom who will be vying for sectional medals and state berths at Saturday’s WIAA Division 3 Individual Wrestling Sectional in Osseo. The top three finishers in each weight class will qualify for the state meet on February 25-27 in Madison.
Nadeau and Ullom both finished with team-best 3-1 marks at the regional competition in Cadott.
At 106 pounds, Jacob Nadeau opened with a first-period pin over Luke Deppa of Spring Valley/Elmwood in 1:58 and followed it with a decisive 13-1 major decision against Cornell/Gilman/Lake Holcombe’s Sam Pickereign.
Thanks to a first-round bye, Ullom did not see action until the semifinals, where he dispatched Nick Sempf of Clear Lake with a 19-4 technical fall.
Both Glenwood City grapplers would fall in the finals of their respective weights.
Clear Lake sophomore Ryan Anderson bested Nadeau 5-2 for the 106-pound gold while Ullom fell to a familiar foe from Boyce-ville. Bulldogs’ freshman Brock Schlough, who had beaten Ullom 14-0 in Tuesday’s dual meet, earned a pin fall in 2:18.
Neither Nadeau nor Ullom had to wrestleback as the wrestlers each defeated in the semis won their third place matches.
“Jake Nadeau really came to wrestle on Saturday,” noted Coach Strong. “He was very aggressive in his semifinal match scoring early and often. He also wrestled a close match in the finals against a very good opponent.”
“Marcus Ullom was very aggressive as well in his semi-final match,” added Strong. “Scoring points in the first period really sets the tone for the match and they both did that.”
For Carson Strong, Spencer Peterson and Hogan Chouinard, one point made all the difference between packing away the singlet and preparing for sectionals. All three come up one point short in their semifinals match and wound up with season-ending third-place finishes.
Carson Strong dispatched Boyceville’s Jason Swanepoel with a 17-2 technical fall in the 126-pound quarterfinals. Strong then lost a 1-0 decision to Spring Valley/Elmwood’s Ryan Berg for the third consecutive time in the semifinal. Strong rebounded with a 7-4 win over Gabe Colbeth of Clear Lake for third but was denied a sectional berth when he lost 4-2 to Cadott’s Andrew Gunderson in the wrestleback.
“Carson lost a 1-0 decision to Berg for the third time in three weeks,” said Coach Strong. “We have to get those takedowns if we want to compete in the big tournaments. I was proud of him for bouncing back and defeating Colbeth for third but then he suffered a crushing loss in the finals seconds for true second.”
Spencer Peterson also lost a 1-0 decision in his semifinals match at 160 pounds. Justin Malean of Boyceville copped the win over Peterson, who came back to win the third-place match in another tight decision but came out on top with a 2-0 win over Mitchell Gunderson of Cadott. When Malean lost in the finals, Peterson was not afforded a wrestleback and had to settle for third.
Hogan Chouinard was denied a second and final sectional tournament after he lost to Ryan Asher of Spring Valley in a semifinal’s match at 195 pounds. Asher came out on top of a 3-2 score for his second win against Chouinard in two weeks. Like Peterson, Chouinard never got the chance for a wrestleback after Asher in the championship.
“Hogan Chouinard also had trouble scoring in his semi-final match,” noted Strong. “His effort has been outstanding all year, he just couldn’t get the angles he was working for to score the takedown. Unfortunate for him, he doesn’t have another shot but I’m very proud of Hogan for his commitment to his goals. He really worked hard and set a good example for everyone on our team.”
Following quarterfinal round byes, Jake Kopacz and Jake O’Meara fell in the semifinals. Kopacz was beaten by eventual champion Jed Schlegel of Spring Valley/Elmwood at 170 pounds and O’Meara lost his 152-pound semifinal to Cadott’s James Pfeiffer 5-1.
Both wrestlers had big wins in their third-place matches. O’Meara topped Tyler Krueger of Boyceville 15-0 and Kopacz pinned Cadott’s Hayden Thompson in 1:53. Kopacz’ third-place victory earned him a shot at second against Boyceville’s Micah Johnson, but O’Meara was not as fortunate.
Kopacz saw his season end as Micah Johnson scored a first-period pin.
“We had four guys that took third on Saturday that will return next year,” noted Strong. “If they want to get over the hump, they need to make a commitment to improving. Everything in life is earned, not deserved. It will be very important for them to work on the areas that we need to improve on. I believe they are the type of kids that will get to work and we will reap the benefits next year.”
Dan Taylor, who competed at 113 pounds in place of Austin Curvello who was ineligible to compete at the regional, and senior Kole Smith (132) each finished fourth.
Brad Kessler was fifth at 120 pounds and Bryce Fayerweather took sixth at 220 pounds.
“Right now our focus is on our two remaining guys in the sectional tournament,” said Strong. “They both have very good chances to advance to state if they get after it and demand to score.”
The sectional tournament gets underway at 10 a.m.