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CADOTT — Nine years of frustration and heartache were instantly washed away last Saturday.
After five straight years as the runner-up including the past three by just a few points, Boyceville overtook host Cadott in the final rounds to claim the 2019 WIAA Division 3 regional wrestling tournament in the Hornets’ Hive February 9 – its first since 2010 – and with it a coveted berth in this week’s team sectional meet.
The regional triumph was met by relief as much as jubilation.
“Its been so long, I’m not sure when the last time we won it was,” admitted Boyceville’s veteran head coach Jamie Olson when queried following the victory.
“It was a great team win!” added Olson.
Indeed it was.
It took all 14 wrestlers, something the Bulldogs hadn’t had all year until last Saturday’s regional meet.
Wrestling much of this season with two open weight classes, Olson and his staff were finally able to “plug” those holes in the lineup when it came tournament crunch time.
Senior Dylan Mcnew and sophomore Tristan Bowell filled long-open vacancies at 170 and 195 pounds respectively which proved crucial in the Bulldogs’ title run.
“Dylan Mcnew and Tristin Bowell stepped up for us and scored 14 big points,” stated Olson. “That was important to go in with 14, because it gave the entire team confidence that we were going to score points in every weight.”
It also provided just enough to hold off a talented Hornets team.
In the final tally, Boyceville finished the tournament with a first-place total of 234.5 points just seven-and-a-half points ahead of runner-up Cadott. Spring Valley/Elmwood was a distant third with a score of 133, followed by Glenwood City and last year’s regional winner Clear Lake who tied for fourth with 102 and Cornell/Gilman finished with 75 to finish sixth.
The win propelled the Bulldogs to this evening’s, Wednesday, February 13, WIAA Division 3 Team Sectional tournament in Ladysmith. The meet was originally scheduled for Tuesday night but was postponed a day due to a winter storm that caused schools to close throughout northwest Wisconsin including Boyceville and host Ladysmith.
Boyceville will face Whitehall at 6:00 p.m. in one semifinal while St. Croix Falls will battle Phillips in the other. The winners will then wrestle at approximately 8 p.m. to determine who gets sectional championship and berth to the state team championships which will be held March 1 and 2 in the UW-Madison Fieldhouse.
Boyceville’s performances in the championship matches were also key to its regional victory.
The Bulldogs won six of the seven championship matches they wrestled in including all three head-to-head bouts against Cadott.
“We had a great final round losing just one match and gaining bonus points in three of them,” Olson said. “Every kid wrestled to their seed or higher, which is all you can ask of them. The effort and intensity was awesome all day. This team wanted it, the determination was there and it was the difference.”
And for the second straight year, Boyceville had six wrestlers win individual regional championships and will be sending seven in all to this Saturday’s WIAA Division 3 Individual Wrestling Sectional at Independence High School. Only the Hornets, with eight sectional qualifiers, is sending more.
The top two finishers in each of the 14 weight classes advance to the sectional tournament.
Boyceville unbeatens Brock Schlough and Tretton Joles added to their regional gold collections. Schlough began his hunt for a fourth state title by claiming his fourth and final regional championship. Joles, meanwhile, won his second in as many attempts.
Joining the pair, who are both a perfect 39-0 heading into Saturday’s sectional, atop the regional podium were first-time winners freshman Josiah Berg (103), sophomore Nathan Stuart (120), freshman Ira Bialzik (126) and senior Nick Goodell (138).
In addition, another freshman Tyler Dormanen copped second at 132 pounds to grab the seventh and final sectional berth for the Bulldogs.
“Our six champions wrestled with heart and toughness,” stated Olson. “Stuart, Bialzik and Goodell had really big final matches, having byes to the finals meant they needed to win to get those advancement points. Those three wins along with Joles’s and Schlough’s pins and Berg’s major put us in good shape.”
Boyceville all-time career wins leader, Brock Schlough, began his quest for the program’s unprecedented fourth individual state crown with a pair of dominated performances at 152 pounds. Schlough, ranked number one in the state at that weight class, notched a 1:45 pin over Cadott’s Michael Pecha in the semifinals and then manhandled Clear Lake senior and honorable mention wrestler Korey Catts in the title match, winning on a 16-0 technical fall shut out in just four minutes.
Sophomore Trett Joles, Division 3’s top-ranked grappler at 182 pounds, had to wrestle just one match at regionals as his weight class was one of five that had only three wrestlers or less in it. With a pair of byes that put him in the finals, Joles faced sixth-ranked junior Ethan Tegels of Cadott for the gold. Tegels tested Joles but was no match in the end as the Boyceville sophomore eventually threw him on his back for the pin at 5:13.
Nathan Stuart, Ira Bialzik and Nick Goodell only had to wrestle a single match as well to claim championship gold.
Stuart, a sophomore, was just one of two wrestlers competing in the 120-pound weight class last Saturday in Cadott. The other was hometown Hornet and freshman Kaleb Sonnentag. The pair had to wait much of the tournament before finally tangling during the championship round. Stuart prevailed 6-2 to improve to 28-11 on the season .
With just three wrestlers in his 126-pound bracket, Bulldogs’ freshman Ira Bialzik got to face the winner of the Ethan Duck of Cadott and Glenwood City’s Thomas Moede semifinal bout which Duck won on a 1:59 pin. In the final, Bialzik took the early advantage but Duck tied the match at six on a takedown at the end of regulation. But Bialzik scored a takedown in the first overtime period to claim the 8-6 victory.
Senior Nick Goodell also needed overtime to decide his one-and-only match which came in the finals too. Goodell took a 4-0 lead against Spring Valley/Elmwood’s Brayden Wolf but the Cardinals’ sophomore rallied to tie it at the end of regulation. In the overtime period, Goodell made a move and scored the match-winning takedown just seconds into the one-minute overtime frame.
Unlike the overtime battles Bialzik and Goodell had to survive, freshman Josiah Berg dominated his two matches at 106 pounds. Berg easily moved to claim the gold with a 53 second pin in the semifinals and a 12-1 major decision over fellow ranked freshman Kaleb Casey of Spring Valley/Elmwood. With the gold medal performance, Berg, ranked eighth in the state, and improved his season mark to 34-5.
Tyler Dormanen, yet another of the Bulldogs’ talented freshman crop, came up short in his bid for a regional title as he fell to sixth-ranked senior Sam Pickerign of Cornell/Gilman, 10-3, in the 132-pound championship. After a first-round bye, Dormanen (22-11) pinned Zak Schofield of Cadott in 1:34 to gain a spot in the title match.
Three other Bulldogs just missed the sectional cut. Senior Eli Swanson (113), freshman Nick Hillman (160) and junior Josh Marzofka (285) each finished in third place at their respective weights.
Swanson, who scored a pair of pins including in the third-place match, was himself pinned by eventual regional champion Andy Grant of Glenwood City during their semifinal bout.
Nick Hillman split his two matches at 160 pounds. He lost on a fall to runner-up Spencer Kraus of Cornell/Gilman and then pinned GC’s Kyla Haaf to take third.
Recent Bulldog addition, Josh Marzofka also found himself on the opposite ends of pins at 285 pounds. The junior was stuck 21 second into his semifinal match against eventual regional winner Josh Briggs of Cadott but he returned the favor against Glenwood City junior Andrew Berends in the third-place match.
Tanner Anderson (145), Dylan Mcnew (170) and Tristan Bowell (195) placed fourth and Keegan Plemon (220) was fifth.
Wrestling at Saturday’s individual sectional tournament will begin at 10:00 a.m., with the top three place winners at each weight moving on to the state meet at the Kohl Center in Madison on February 21-23.