GLENWOOD CITY — Aspirations and goals are what drives individuals.
And it’s no different for a collective unit such as a team.
So when rivals Boyceville and Glenwood City squared off for their annual wrestling dual in the Hilltoppers’ high school gymnasium January 30, both squads – neither of which had be beaten in conference duals – knew their aspirations of a winning a Dunn-St. Croix wrestling championship would likely be decided by the outcome of this singular contest.
The Bulldogs, who came in sporting a 3-0 conference record, started quickly building an 18-6 on the Toppers’ home mat.
But, as with any contest, the action was filled with ebbs and flows.
The 2-0 Toppers responded with five straight match victories to forge a 28-18 advantage as the dual headed toward the upper weights and the Bulldogs’ strength.
Reeling off five straight victories its own, and 30 unanswered points, Boyceville pulled away to claim a 48-28 win last Tuesday for its first conference crown since the 2012-13 season and the program’s 18th overall Dunn-St. Croix championship.
Boyceville’s ability to produce bonus points, six pins and two forfeits, throughout the dual proved to be a huge factor in the Bulldogs’ win.
“Our kids bought into the bonus point philosophy and it was the difference,” said Jamie Olson, who picked up his tenth conference championship as Boyceville’s head coach.
“Novotney, Retz, Stuart, Schlough, (Trett) Joles, Malean all scored big pins and (Garrett)Joles and Schmid received forfeits,” Olson added. “Those are 24 extra points.”
And the difference in the match.
Glenwood City scored “bonus points” in four of its five match wins, but was unable to produce the upset or two it needed to offset the pins and forfeits it surrendered.
“If we want to beat good teams, we need to score more bonus points and we cannot give up pins,” stated Glenwood City head coach Shane Strong. “That was the big difference in the dual.”
Strong also noted that Olson and the Bulldogs made some weight class changes he did not anticipate.
“There was a kid in their line-up we had never seen compete all season,” continued Strong. “When you are competing to win duals, it can be a chess match sometimes. With lower numbers, we are unable to make moves we would like to.”
The dual opened with wrestling at 285 pounds.
There, Boyceville senior Noah Novotney, currently ranked fifth in the state heavyweight poll, built a 7-1 lead before pinning Glenwood City junior Bryce Fayerweather at the 2:27 mark.
Glenwood City’s 106-pound freshman Andy Grant would take back those points in the very next match as he needed just 1:15 to score the pin on his Boyceville opponent Eli Swanson.
“Andy Grant continues to get better. He was below .500 in junior high, and I believe he is up to 22 wins this season,” noted Coach Strong.
The Bulldogs scored pins in their next two bouts to take an 18-6 lead.
Freshman Walker Retz, who is now rated fourth in the state, took just 40 seconds to pin his Glenwood City counterpart, and fellow freshman Will Eggert at 113 pounds.
The Bulldogs’ Nathan Stuart did likewise to Aaron Holmquist, taking the 120-pound match by fall in 2:24.
Glenwood City quickly turned the tide in its favor when it came into the strength of its lineup at 126 pounds.
GC senior Jacob Nadeau, holding the number two ranking in the D3, 126-pound weight class, scored a 15-0 technical fall in 2:24 of work over the Bulldogs’ scrappy foreign exchange student Arthur Bia.
Fellow Toppers’ senior Carson Strong, despite missing the past few weeks with a shoulder injury, took the mat and deliver the Toppers’ only pin of the night, sticking Boyceville freshman Nick Litomsky in 1:35 to move the Toppers to within a point at 18-17.
“I was proud of Carson for coming out to wrestle despite an injury; he didn’t want to let his team down,” said his coach and father.
Glenwood City would take its first lead of the contest in the next match, and then added to it in the ensuing two bouts.
Brad Kessler scored a major decision for the Toppers’ at 138, besting the Bulldogs’ Nick Goodell 9-1 which gave Glenwood City a 21-18 advantage.
Topper Austin Curvello followed with a 6-1 win over Tanner Anderson at 145 pounds and Tucker Lagerstrom finished off the Glenwood City scoring with a four-point, 19-5 major decision in his 152-pound match against Bulldog senior Jason Swanepoel.
That win pushed the Glenwood City lead to ten points at 28-18.
It was all Boyceville from there.
Defending state champion and top-ranked Brock Schlough pinned Nick Melendrez of Glenwood City just 52 ticks into the match at 160 pounds.
It took Boyceville senior Justin Malean, another of the Bulldogs’ state ranked grapplers, until the 2:28 mark of the second period before he too scored a pinfall, taking down Harrison Chouinard.
Those pins put Boyceville back in front to stay at 30 to 28.
In one of the better matches of the evening, Glenwood City senior Jacob Kopacz led state-ranked freshman Trett Joles 2-0 going into the middle frame of the pair’s 182-pound match. Joles picked up a three-point near fall and a takedown before pinning Kopacz with just eight seconds remaining in the period.
The match ended on a pair of forfeits to the Bulldogs’ Taylor Schmid and Garrett Joles at 195 and 220 pounds respectively for a 48-28 Boyceville win.
“We established a goal to win the conference this year,” said Coach Shane Strong, “So we are disappointed as a team.”
“As a coaching staff we are proud of our kids for how they have wrestled as a team,” added Strong. “We have a few first year guys in our line-up that are still learning the sport, but their effort level in practice has been outstanding.”
Both Boyceville and Glenwood City, who closed out the out the season with several duals later in the week including the Toppers’ 46-24 win over Spring Valley/Elmwood that secured second place in conference, will head to Spring Valley this Saturday, February 10 for the WIAA Division 3 regional which gets underway at 10:00 a.m.
The top two place winners in each weight class will advance to the individual sectional tournament in Osceola on February 17, while the winning team will earn a berth to the team sectional slate for next Tuesday, February 13 in Cadott.
Boyceville 48, Glenwood City 28
285-Noah Novotney (B) pinned Bryce Fayerweather (GC), 2:27; 106-Andy Grant (GC) pinned Eli Swanson (B), 1:15; 113-Walker Retz (B) pinned Will Eggert (GC), 0:40; 120-Nathan Stuart (B) pinned Aaron Holmquist (GC), 2:24; 126-Jacob Nadeau (GC) tech falled Arthur Bia (B), 15-0 (2:21); 132-Carson Strong (GC) pinned Nick Litomsky (B), 1:35; 138-Brad Kessler (GC) majored Nick Goodell (B), 9-1; 145-Austin Curvello (GC) dec. Tanner Anderson (B), 6-1; 152-Tucker Lagerstrom (GC) majored Jason Swanepoel (B), 19-5; 160-Brock Schlough (B) pinned Nick Melendrez (GC), 0:52; 170-Justin Malean (B) pinned Harrison Chouinard (GC), 2:28; 182-Trett Joles (B) pinned Jake Kopacz (G), 3:52; 195-Taylor Schmid (B) received forfeit; 220-Garrett Joles (B) received forfeit.