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Bulldog wrestlers end drought, overpower Cardinals

Five years of bitter frustration came to end last Thursday evening in Boyceville.

After half a decade of coming up short against their wrestling nemesis, Boyceville, who moved up a spot to sixth in the new Division 3 state rankings, snapped its five-year drought and the seven-year conference reign of Spring Valley/Elmwood with a 40-22 victory in a key Dunn-St. Croix wrestling dual held under the spotlight in Boyceville’s Gymnatorium January 18.

“It’s been 5 long years, but those duals were classic battles and I’m just glad we could find a way to win tonight,” said a relieved Jamie Olson, Boyceville’s head coach, after the victory.

Although the much anticipated win may not fully wash away the soar aftertaste of last year’s controversial 36-35 loss to the Cardinals in Spring Valley, it does put the Bulldogs on the path to their 18th conference title and first since 2013 which they shared with Spring Valley/Elmwood.

Boyceville is currently 2-0 in conference duals, a mark they share with rival Glenwood City, whom they will wrestle next Tuesday, January 30th in the Hilltoppers’ gym. In the meantime, the Bulldogs will host Durand this Thursday in their home finale.

Spring Valley is 0-1 in conference action.

A few days later, Boyceville traveled to St. Croix Falls for a tournament where it capped a satisfying week with a sixth-place finish and had three individual champions crowned in the Saturday invitational.

Bulldogs crew up Cards  

While Coach Jamie Olson may not have been pleased by the performance, he had to appreciate the effort and the result.

After all a win, no matter how imperfect, is still a win especially when it comes against Spring Valley/Elmwood on the wrestling mat.

“I wasn’t exactly happy with the overall performance,” said the longtime Boyceville coach following his charges 40-22 home dual victory over the Cardinals – their first in five years. “But our upper weights continue to score big bonus points. Brock, Justin, Trett, Garrett and Noah have been awesome all year and they give us a chance every night to win with bonus points.”

That they did against Spring Valley/Elmwood, who is now under the tutelage of longtime assistant and first-year head Bill Hofacker after he took leadership of the program following the retirement of legendary coach Carter Turner last season.

Boyceville freshman Nathan Stuart opened the dual with a 7-4 decision over Nolan Stans at 126 pounds.

“Nathan Stuart continues to wrestle tough and started the dual off with a big win,” remarked Olson. “He is really starting to come into his own winning the last 6-8 matches.”

But Spring Valley/Elmwood posted wins in the next four matches to take a 16-3 lead in to the match at 160 pounds.

Cardinals’ sophomore Clayton Neisinger started the streak with a 17-7 major decision at 132 pounds against Bulldogs’ freshman Nick Litomsky.

Another of Spring Valley/Elmwood’s half dozen rostered sophomores Cross Hurlburt held on to upset Boyceville junior  Nick Goodell, ranked 11th in the recent state poll, on a 4-3 count in the 138 pound match.

Jerod Rielly grabbed three more team points for the Cardinals with a 7-1 win at 145 pounds over Bulldogs’ senior Tanner Anderson.

Santana Schlegel posted the dual’s first pinfall when he put Boyceville senior Jason Swanepoel to his back at 5:38 of the 152-pound bout.

But the momentum and the match swung dramatically in Boyceville’s favor in ensuing match  at 160 pounds.

Two-time defending state champion and the weight class’ current number one, Brock Schlough, kept his season record unblemished as he toyed with his Spring Valley/Elmwood counterpart. Schlough scored at will as he rang up 23 points in his technical fall victory against Cardinals’ junior Kenny Fesenmaier, a honorable mention in the state rankings.

“Brock’s match was outstanding,” said Olson, the Boyceville head coach. “That’s the best he’s wrestled all year.

Schlough’s win, which featured nine takedowns, a reversal and three-point near fall, started an eight-match winning streak that would propel Boyceville to its first win over Spring Valley/Elmwood since 2013.

Senior Justin Malean nipped familiar foe Carter Merth 3-1 in the 170-pound match.

Boyceville freshman Tretton Joles, ranked third, lived up to his billing with a dominating 21-4 technical fall against his 182-pound opponent senior Hayden Nyeggen. The win earned Boyceville five team points and a 16 all tie with Spring Valley/Elmwood.

Older brother Garrett Joles would follow with a quick pin at 195 pounds. Another of the Bulldogs’ returning state titlist and topped ranked, Garrett Joles needed just 56 seconds to stick Nick Hofacker to the mat.

Boyceville would never trail again.

After a double forfeit at 220 pounds, Boyceville’s Noah Novotney (285), Eli Swanson (106) and Walker Retz (113) all received forfeit at their respective weights.

The Cardinals were able to bookend wins as Brayden Wolf pinned the Bulldogs Arthur Bia in the first period of the final match at 120 pounds.    

Boyceville 40, Spring Valley/Elmwood 22

126-Nathan Stuart (B) dec. Nolan Stans (SV/E), 7-4; 132-Clayton Neisinger (SV/E) majored Nick Litomsky (B), 17-7; 138-Cross Hurlburt (SV/E) dec. Nick Goodell (B), 4-3; 145-Jerod Rielly (SV/E) dec. Tanner Anderson (B), 7-1; 152-Santana Schlegel (SV/E) pinned Jason Swanepoel (B), 5:38; 160-Brock Schlough (B) tech falled Kenny Fesenmaier (SV/E), 23-8; 170-Justin Malean (B) dec. Carter Merth (SV/E), 3-1; 182-Tretten Joles (B) tech falled Jayden Nyeggen (SV/E), 21-4; 195-Garrett Joles (B) pinned Nick Hofacker (SV/E), 0:56; 220-Double Forfeit; 285-Noah Novotney (B) received forfeit; 106-Eli Swanson (B) received forfeit; 113-Walker Retz (B) received forfeit; 120-Brayden Wolf (SV/E) pinned Arthur Bia (B), 5:02.

St. Croix Falls Tourney

Although Boyceville had just ten of its 14 varsity weight classes filled for last Saturday’s tournament at St. Croix Falls High School, the Bulldogs had seven wrestlers place including three as champions.

Unbeaten and top-ranked Brock Schlough and Garrett Joles claimed gold as did Garrett’s younger sibling and once-beaten Trett Joles to lead Boyceville to a sixth place in the 20-team St. Croix Falls Wrestling Classic that featured four state-ranked teams including Boyceville.

The sixth-ranked Bulldogs finished with 118 points just a head of rival Glenwood City who tallied 103.5 in the January 20 invitational.

Big Rivers leader and Division one’s seventh-rated Raiders of Hudson carried home the team trophy with 175 points. Host St. Croix Falls, rated three in the new Division 3 state poll, came in second with 164.5 followed by Cumberland (131.5) in third, Totino Grace (126), seated 11th in Minnesota’s Class AA rankings, was fourth and River Falls (121) was fifth.

Moving down a weight class to 152 pounds, junior Brock Schlough eclipsed the 30-win mark for the season with four straight wins. He scored technical falls in his first three matches before defeating Nathan Fuller River Falls, 7-4, in the championship. Schlough improved to 32-0.

Garrett Joles kept his record unblemished with four wins at 195 pounds to improve to 26-0. The senior scored back-to-back pinfalls in the quarter- and semifinals after an opening round bye. In the title match, Garrett Joles punished opponent Chance Kamrowski of River Falls 15-3 to win the crown.

Younger sibling Trett Joles (31-1), currently third in the Division 3  state rankings, also put forth a dominating performance to win the 182-pound title. The freshman posted a pair of pins, a technical fall and a 12-4 major decision in the finals against Glenwood City senior Jake Kopacz.

Fifth ranked heavyweight and senior Noah Novotney finished 3-1 at St. Croix Falls and took third. Novotney’s lone loss was to River Falls’ Mitchell Williamson, a 5-1 overtime loss in the semifinals. It was the second time in a month that Williamson beat Novotney (26-5) in overtime. Last month, Williamson won the 2017 Northern Badger heavyweight title 3-1 in sudden victory.

Freshman Nathan Stuart split his four matches to place fourth at 126 pounds.

Justin Malean and Nick Goodell both finished seventh at 170 and 138 pounds respectively.

In the junior varsity competition, Taylor Schmid was third at 195 and Nick Litomsky took fifth at 132.