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BALDWIN — The Bloomer/Colfax wrestling team had four wrestlers qualify for the individual sectional tournament including three from Colfax following the regional competition in Baldwin last Saturday.
Colfax’s Luke Blanchard and Mitchel Harmon captured regional championships at the WIAA Division 2 Regional Wrestling tournament held February 9 at Baldwin-Woodville High School while a third Colfax member of the Raptors wrestling team, Sawyer Best, along with Bloomer’s Bowen Rothbauer finished second.
All four earned berths in this coming Saturday’s WIAA Division 2 Individual Wrestling Sectional to be held at Neillsville High School.
The top two regional finishers in each weight class qualify for the sectional tournament while the winning team earned a berth in the team sectional.
Bloomer/Colfax, who had nine wrestlers competing in the Baldwin Regional meet, finished fourth in the six-team competition with 125.5 points.
Ellsworth, who has made five consecutive appearance in the D2 State championship with state titles in 2014, 2016 and 2017, won the regional with a whopping 286 points. With the win, the Panthers advanced to Tuesday’s (February 12) team sectional in Osceola where they faced Medford in one of the semifinals. Spooner/Webster and host Osceola squared off in the other semifinal match. The winners met in the finals with a state berth on the line.
Host Baldwin-Woodville was the regional runner-up with 189 points, followed by Prescott at 162, the Raptors at 125.5, and Osseo-Fairchild/Augusta/Fall Creek and Regis/Altoona tied for fifth with 88 points each.
In last Saturday’s regional meet, freshman Luke Blanchard and junior Mitchel Harmon captured gold medals for Bloomer/Colfax at 106 and 138 pounds respectively. Harmon won the 132-pound regional title last year.
Sawyer Best, also a junior, moved up a step on the regional podium and grabbed his first sectional qualifying spot with a second-place showing at 132 pounds. Best came in third at 120 pounds a year ago.
After a runner-up finish in the Heart O’ North conference tournament the previous Saturday, Blanchard proved that he was the best grappler in the 106-pound weight class in Baldwin on February 9.
Blanchard, 21-4, chalked up easy wins following a first-round bye. He pinned Regis/Altoona’s Connor Mattison just 1:03 into their semifinal bout and followed it with a resounding 18-4 major decision over Cale Ekholm of Ellsworth in the championship match.
Harmon’s path to his second straight regional crown was nearly as smooth.
Earning a first-round bye as the top-ranked wrestler in the 138-pound field, Harmon needed a mere 48 seconds to stick Cole Davis of Prescott in the semifinals. The Colfax junior would also face an Ellsworth wrestler in the finals but Harmon, like Blanchard, was equal to the challenge. Harmon, who was ranked eighth in the recent Wisconsin Wrestling Online state pool in his D2 weight class and is 28-1, dominated the Panthers’ Carter Huppert in the 7-1 win for the gold.
Best, ranked fifth in the D2, state 132-pound field, come up short in his bid for the top medal. After a first-round bye, he needed just 4:38 to shut out Grant Stanton of Prescott, 15-0, on a technical fall in the semifinals. Losing for just the third time in 30 matches this season, Best was beaten 16-6 by Ellsworth’s Charlie Stuhl in the championship match.
Best’s work, however, was not complete as he had to defend his silver medal in a wrestleback against Tanner Merriman of Baldwin-Woodville. The Colfax junior’s defense was successful as he pinned Merriman in 1:44 to retain second place and secure a berth at the sectional meet.
Raptors’ 160-pounder, Bowen Rothbauer, claimed the team’s fourth and final sectional berth with a second-place showing. Rothbauer earned an 8-4 decision over Dakota Gartmann of Baldwin-Woodville in semis but lost 8-2 to Ellsworth’s Cedric Kosnopfal in the championship.
Another Colfax wrestler, Julio Hernandez just missed qualifying for the sectional with a third-place finish at 120 pounds to wrap up his season at 13-18.
Trey Hovde (145) and Alex Poirier (113) took home fourth-place finishes while Brody Lueck (126) and Gunnar Grambo (285) placed fifth in their respectively regional brackets.
Blanchard, Best, Harmon and Rothbauer will represent the Raptors this Saturday, February 16 in the WIAA Division 2 Neillsville Individual Sectional. Wrestling will begin at 10:30 a.m. with the top three finishers in each of the 14 weight classes qualifying for the state championships which will be held February 21-23 at the Kohl Center in Madison.