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Eight wrestlers place to help Hilltoppers to fourth-place finish at Chippewa Falls Invite

CHIPPEWA FALLS — Illness, injuries and inclement weather caused the postponements of both of Glenwood City’s dual wrestling matches last week.

The January 9 non-conference match in Cameron was reschedules for Thursday, February 1 due to several illnesses and injuries. Two days later, the Toppers’ D-SC dual in Spring Valley against the defending champion Cardinals had to be rescheduled to Friday, February 2 because of ice and snow on January 11 caused the closing of school and all extracurricular activities.

The scheduling hiccups, however, did not seem to bother the Hilltoppers as they looked sharp when they finally got back on the competitive mat Saturday in Chippewa Falls.

Glenwood City had eight of its ten varsity wrestlers place including a pair of champions and three second-place finishes enroute to a fourth-place showing in the 11-team tournament held at Chi-Hi January 13. The Toppers were also fourth in Cadott a week earlier.

The Hilltoppers scored 140 points to finish just six points behind third-place Edgar and half a dozen ahead of conference foe Spring Valley/Elmwood. Clear Lake won the meet with 245 points and New Richmond was the runner-up with 181.

Carson Strong pocketed his second gold medal in as many Saturday tournaments. The senior, ranked sixth in the most recent Division 3 state poll, ran his record to an impressive 21-2 mark with three dominating wins including two shut outs in Chippewa Falls.

Strong earned a 15-0 technical fall over New Richmond’s Devin Denison in a 132-pound quarterfinal. He followed that with a 1:50 semifinal pin of Nathan Barthman of Clear Lake. In the championship, Strong blanked another New Richmond wrestler, Tyler Dennis, by a 6-0 score.

Another senior, Brad Kessler, joined Strong atop the day’s awards podium after taking the championship at 138 pounds. Kessler also had an outstanding tournament as he improved to 19-7 on the season with three tournament wins.

Kessler topped Spring Valley/Elmwood’s Cross Hurlburt 11-6 to open his competition. He then won an impressive 11-3 major decision over hometown favorite Austin Smith of Chippewa Falls in the semis before sticking Ivan Ruble of Clear Lake at the 3:39 mark of the title match. Kessler’s wrestling has also caught the attention of the pollsters as he earned honorable mention in the recent state rankings.

Three other Hilltoppers made their respective championship bouts but finished as runners-up.

Andy Grant, Tucker Lagerstrom and Jake Kopacz each took home silver medals from the Chi-Hi tourney.

Tucker Lagerstrom (9-8) had quite possibly his best tournament of the season, wrestling to a 3-1 mark and second place at 145 pounds. The sophomore earned a pair of pins over opponents from Verona and Regis/Altoona and a 14-10 decision against Kyle Bowe of Chippewa Falls to gain a spot in the finals. Unfortunately, Nick Sempf, a state-ranked grappler from Clear Lake was awaiting Lagerstrom in the finals and beat the GC grappler 11-2 to take the gold.

Jake Kopacz (16-8) won his first two matches – a second-period pin of Verona Area’s Wyatt Breitnauer and a wild 17-13 decision over New Richmond’s Jake LaVenture – at 195 pounds. But the GC senior, rated ninth in the state’s current poll, was pinned by Ben Turner of Spring Valley/Elmwood with less than a minute left in the championship match.

Like Kopacz, 106-pounder Andy Grant finished the day with a 2-1 mark to place second. The freshman, now 17-4, won big in his first two matches, beating Matt Harle of New Richmond via a fall at 5:54 of the opening round and Stanley-Boyd/Owen-Withee’s Brandon Buck on a 13-1 major in the semifinals. Clear Lake’s Shane Larson turned it around on Grant in the lightweight finals to win by major decision, 12-4.

Topper senior Jake Nadeau, ranked second in the 126-pound, Division 3 field and currently 14-4, bounced back from a heartbreaking 4-2 semifinals’ loss to Brandon Dennis of New Richmond to cop third place with a 19-3 technical fall win against Amos Casey of Regis/Altoona.

Junior Bryce Fayerweather opened the heavyweight competition with a 2:11 pin of Anders Le Mire from New Richmond but then lost his next two via falls to place fourth at 285 pounds.

Will Eggert took a sixth-place finish at 113 pounds after going 3-2 for the tournament. Eggert had a pair of forfeit victories and a pin in the consolation semifinals.

Nick Melendrez (152) and Harrison Chouinard (170) did not place.

The Toppers will travel to Mondovi this Thursday, January 18 for a conference dual against the Buffaloes and then compete in the St. Croix Falls tournament Saturday, January 20. Glenwood City will make up its dual against Spring Valley/Elmwood next Tuesday, January 23. The match will be held in Spring Valley.