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As Boyceville’s young wrestlers have gained experience and mat maturity throughout this season, the Bulldogs success has grown along with them.
After starting 2-8 in duals, Boyceville’s wrestling team finished strong winning 12 of its final 14 duals including a second consecutive 4-0 Dunn-St. Croix mark that secured the program’s back-to-back outright conference championships.
The Bulldogs capped their regular season schedule with a flurry of four duals within a 24-hour period last Friday and Saturday, winning three of the matches to head into the WIAA tournament series, which gets underway this Saturday, February 9 with the Division 3 regional competition in Cadott, with a 14-10 overall record.
After having last Tuesday’s final conference dual in Durand postponed due to dangerously low temperatures caused by a Polar Vortex, the short-handed Panthers decided later in the week to “throw in” the towel altogether and forfeit the dual to the Bulldogs.
That left Boyceville with a Friday night dual in Eau Claire against the North Huskies and three final duals the following day at the North Branch, MN Quad.
Despite four straight days – Monday to Thursday – without school or practice, Boyceville tallied a convincing 56-24 win over Eau Claire North Friday evening, February 1 and then took two of the three duals it wrestled in North Branch beating Pine City, MN and host North Branch, MN 63-5 and 42-34 respectively. In just its first loss of the new year, Boyceville fell to Grand Rapids, MN 51-27. A year ago, the Bulldogs swept all three match in the quad.
Eau Claire North
Boyceville struck quickly in its dual against Eau Claire North last Friday evening, February 1 at the McPhee Center on the UW-Eau Claire campus.
The Bulldogs won the first nine matches and bolted to a 50-0 advantage before the Huskies finally chased down wins in four of the final five bouts to make the final score 56-24.
Brice Evenson and Josiah Berg both register 52 second pins at 106 and 113 pounds respectively to give Boyceville an early 12-0 lead.
The Bulldogs continued to grow their advantage with a 11-8 decision by Peyton Ponath at 120, falls by Eli Swanson (126), Ira Bialzik (138), Nick Goodell (152) and Brock Schlough (160), and forfeits to Nathan Stuart (132) and Tyler Dormanen (145).
The Huskies finally got on the scoreboard at 170 pounds where North’s Mason Tibbets pinned Boyceville freshman Nick Hillman.
Trett Joles picked up the Bulldogs final victory in the next match at 182 pounds where the sophomore stuck the Huskies’ wrestler in the first period.
North won the last three bouts – two by falls and the other via forfeit.
“Three matches really stand out in this dual,” said Bulldogs’ head coach Jamie Olson.
“Peyton Ponath was down by two points with ten seconds left and hit a roll for two and two back points to win at the buzzer. That was a gutty win, we always talk about wrestling from whistle to whistle and it was huge for us. In Ira Bialzik’s match, he was down big and hit a great headlock to get a pin for us. Brice Evenson came out with a lot of intensity and got a big pin at 106 to start the dual.”
North Branch, MN Quad
After finishing in first-place with an unblemished 3-0 record in its inaugural visit to the North Branch, Minnesota dual meet quadrangular a year ago, Boyceville took second after winning two of its three competitions there last Saturday, February 1.
“I thought we wrestled well all day on Saturday,” stated Coach Olson. “It was nice to see different kids and there was some great competition.”
The Bulldogs had four wrestlers go unbeaten in the competition.
Brock Schlough, Trett Joles, Ira Bialzik and Tyler Dormanen all finished 3-0 against their Minnesota competitors. Schlough and Joles also remained perfect on the season.
“Ira and Tyler continue to really wrestle tough,” said Olson of his freshman pair. “Tyler won two really exciting matches with crazy scrambling and just a lot of heart and guts. Brock and Trett were dominate.”
In its dual with Pine City, Boyceville claimed victories in 11 of the 12 competitive matches to register an easy 63-5 victory. Heavyweight newcomer Josh Marzofka scored a fall as did Hillman (152), Schlough (160) and Joles (182). Josiah Berg scored a 17-2 technical fall in his 113-pound match.
Against North Branch, Boyceville used a combination of pins and forfeits to put away the hosts 42-34. The Bulldogs rallied from an early 13-6 deficit as it scored on pins by Josiah Berg (113), Tyler Dormanen (138) and Trett Joles (182) and collected another four wins via forfeits. North Branch finished with two pins, a major decision and two regular decisions and a pair of forfeits.
The Bulldogs only setback of the tournament came against Grand Rapids, who collected five pin falls, and three forfeits en route to a 51-27 victory.
Boyceville got pins from Nate Stuart (126), Ira Bialzik (132), Brock Schlough (160) and Trett Joles (195) and a close 15-14 decision by Tyler Dormanen at 138 pounds. In another tight match, freshman Josiah Berg lost 6-4 in overtime to state-ranked Connor Wakefield.
“Overall we wrestled hard and came out injury free,” concluded Olson. “I’m looking forward to the tournament series. We accomplished one of our goals in winning Boyceville’s 19th conference title. Now its on to this week’s tough regional (in Cadott), our boys are excited!”