Strong places third, Toppers 17th at Northern Badger

RIVER FALLS — After putting a quartet of wrestlers on the Northern Badger medals podium the past two years, Glenwood City added two to that number this year.

And while six Hilltopper wrestlers garnered medals, including a bronze-medalist finish at 132 pounds by junior Carson Strong, the team’s best individual finish in four years, Glenwood City was not able to better last year’s 120.5 point, 13th overall placement or runner-up finish in the Division 3 or small school standings at the 32nd annual Northern Badger Wrestling Classic.

Although they came close.

“Our goal as a team was top 12 overall,” stated Glenwood City head coach Shane Strong. “And we came up short of that. We knew coming in with 11 guys in the line-up that we would need to get a few guys into the semi-finals with a chance at making the finals, but we were only able to get Carson through. We advanced five kids into the quarter-finals, but really didn’t wrestle well that round.”

Glenwood City finished the 2016 Northern Badger tournament, held last Thursday and Friday, December 29 and 30 at River Falls High School, with 115 point total which was good enough for fourth in the small-schools final standings and 17th overall.

Considering that the Toppers had three open weight classes – 160, 195 and 220 pounds – that’s a very solid effort and result.

Melrose-Mindoro/Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau and Neillsville-Greenwood-Loyal claimed the top two spots in Division one (large schools) and overall standings with 271 and 267.5 points respectively. Boyceville, who was first in Division 3, finished third overall with 228.5 points followed by Cadott at 215.5, Clear Lake with 212 and last year’s champion Spring Valley/Elmwood tallied 208 points to finish sixth overall but first in Division 2.

Following Carson Strong’s third-place showing were a sixth place by senior Marcus Ullom at 138 pounds, an eighth-place finish from Jake Nadeau at 120 pounds, Brad Kessler’s 11th at 126 and 12th place showings by Dan Taylor at 106 pounds and Austin Curvello at 113, who was seeing his first action of the season.

Strong made a dramatic jump in this year’s tournament after taking 7th at 126 one year ago.

The junior went a perfect 3-0 on the first day of competition at 132 pounds, pinning both Blake Ahterton of Prescott and Hunter Bruhn of Phillips in the first period of the opening two rounds.

Strong capped last Thursday’s first-day action by shutting out Chetek-Weyerhaueser/Prairie Farm’s Will Peters 7-0 in the quarterfinals to secure one of four spots in the following days semifinal round.

But Calen Kirkpatrick of Northwestern had other ideas. Kirkpatrick saddled Strong with his first loss of the season after a 11-1 decision. The Northwestern wrestler went on to finish second while Strong, now 11-1, dominated in the third-place match, beating Albert Flottmeyer of LaCrosse Aquinas 13-1.

“Carson wrestled well throughout the two day tournament,” noted his coach and father Shane Strong. “His goal was to win the tournament, but he had a tough time against Kirkpatrick in the semifinals. He was not able to finish his shots and Kirkpatrick took advantage of some bad positioning on re-shots to score points.”

After finishing sixth at 132 pounds last year, Marcus Ullom repeated that finish, taking sixth at 138 pounds in his final Northern Badger tournament. Ullom went 4-2 during the two-day event picking up three pins including a one over Landon Lorenston of Baldwin in the consolation semifinals. But Johnson Creek’s Weston Wichman beat Ullom 11-5 for fifth.

“Marcus Ullom had a solid tournament,” said Strong. “His two losses were to the champion and a very good kid from Johnson Creek. He was able to get in on some solid single legs, but struggled finishing in those matches.”

Jake Nadeau finished eighth at 120 pounds after taking fourth at 106 pounds last year. Nadeau started 2-0 with a pair of pins but finished 3-3.

“Jake Nadeau was disappointed with his placement, but he had a very solid bracket,” said Strong. “He lost a couple of close matches against state level guys. Jake is a hard worker and a great kid. I know these minor set-backs will only fuel him to reach his full potential.”

Brad Kessler went 4-3 at 126 pounds to place 11th. He won three of his first four match with two pins and a major decision and then beat Landyn Johnson of Luck/Frederic/Grantsburg/Siren 14-6 in the 11th-place match.

Austin Curvello had an opening round bye, then scored a 14-5 major decision only to fall 7-0 in the quarterfinals before forfeiting his final three matches to finish 12th at 113 pounds.

Dan Taylor went 3-4 which included a pair of major decisions to take 12th at 106 pounds.

Tucker Lagerstrom won his first two matches at 145 pounds before bowing out with two losses.

“Tucker Lagerstrom was able to win two matches on day one. He is a freshman wrestling two weight classes higher than he could be, but he has a heart of a lion,” stated Strong. “His work ethic is great and he enjoys the challenge.”

Spencer Peterson and Bryce Fayerweather went 1-2 at 182 and 285 pounds respectively while both Carlos Perez (170) and John Pagnotta (152) were 0-2 in their NB matches.

The Toppers will open conference duals hosting three-time defending conference champion Spring Valley this Thursday and will be in Cadott for an invitational Saturday.