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INDEPENDENCE — For the first time since 2015, Glenwood City will be not be represented at the state wrestling championships when it begins this Thursday.
The Hilltoppers’ sectional wrestling triumvirate consisting of senior Bryce Fayerweather, junior Tucker Lagerstrom and sophomore Andy
Grant was unable to secure state qualifying berths to the 2019 WIAA Individual State Wrestling Championship that runs this Thursday through Saturday, February 21-23, at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Instead, Glenwood City’s wrestling season and the prep career of Bryce Fayerweather came to sudden ends at last Saturday’s 2019 WIAA Division 3 Individual Sectional Wrestling tournament in Independence.
Tucker Lagerstrom was the only one of the Hilltoppers’ three sectional representatives to reach the medals podium, taking fourth place at 170 pounds.
Unfortunately, only the top three place winners in each weight class get to advance to the state tournament.
“This really hurts not attending state for all of us,” said Hilltoppers’ head coach Shane Strong in a post on the Glenwood City Wrestling Facebook page.
“I’m proud of our kids,” wrote Strong. “Four years ago we didn’t know what to expect when this group came through because of low middle school numbers. They made the season enjoyable through ups and downs.”
All three Topper wrestlers won their crucial quarterfinal matches only to fall, one after the other, in the semifinals which landed the trio in the consolation side of their respective weight brackets. Lagerstrom was the only one to garner a win in that round and a chance at a state berth while both Fayerweather and Grant were eliminated.
For senior Bryce Fayerweather, who qualified for his only state tournament at 285 pounds a year ago, Saturday’s sectional result was a bittersweet end to a career that had blossomed since he decided to join the wrestling team as a neophyte in his freshman year.
Ranked among the top 12 Division 3 wrestlers in the state in his 220-pound weight class for much of the season, Fayerweather entered Saturday’s tournament as an honorable mention with high hopes of earning a second straight trip to Madison.
He stuck Chequamegon junior Max Brunner in 2:13 of their quarterfinal match.
But Fayerweather exited the tournament with losses in his next two matches.
In the semifinals, Mondovi junior Nathan Pelke, who was ranked 12th at heavyweight before dropping down to 220 pounds for the WIAA tournament series, edged Fayerweather on a 6-2 decision. Then, in the consolation semifinals, Fayerweather’s high school grappling career came to an abrupt and unexpected end when St. Croix Falls’ Kyle Zehm scored the pin fall at 2:45.
“Bryce accomplished some great things in his career only wrestling since his freshman season,” wrote Strong. “He made it to state as a junior and made the podium in several tournaments. He has a lot to be proud of in the short time he competed in this sport.”
Fayerweather finished with a 57-48 record as a three-year varsity wrestler.
One of the hardest working and grittiest wrestlers on this year’s Glenwood City squad is junior Tucker Lagerstrom and he showed those qualities Saturday in Independence.
Lagerstrom knocked off Kees Hoogland of Phillips 11-9 to open his sectional tournament at 170 pounds. That sent him into a semifinal match against Logan Shramek (40-4), a state-ranked, Blair-Taylor junior, that went on to win the sectional championship. Lagerstrom put Shramek on his back and battled out of some difficult situation but eventually lost on an 11-4 decision.
Undaunted by the setback, Lagerstrom rebounded in the consolation semis as he registered a 4:28 pin on Cumberland senior Adam Nyhus.
That gave Lagerstrom an opportunity to wrestle for third place and a state berth. He battled hard against state-ranked Austin McCurdy of St. Croix Fall, losing a close 2-0 decision.
“Tucker Lagerstrom wrestled his heart out yesterday (Saturday),” stated his coach. “Tucker battled all day to make the trip to Madison. On the ride home he understood the lesson that nothing is deserved, everything is earned. He earned respect for his work, but this off season he will earn his trip to state with hard work and more mat time.”
For a second consecutive year, sophomore Andy Grant’s dream of a state tournament berth was dashed.
Like last year, Grant was impressive in his sectional debut as he earned a technical fall shut out. He scored a 16-0 win over Mondovi’s Elijah Burr at the 5:23 mark of their 113-pound quarterfinal’s match.
Grant (23-13) then faced back-to-back matches against a pair of state ranked wrestlers. He lost 3-0 to sectional runner-up Mason Will in the semifinals and 7-0 to Ladysmith’s Derick Vollendorf in the consolation semifinals to bring his season to a close.
“Andy has two more years to reach his goals,” said Strong. “Falling in the sectional two years in a row hurts, but he can use this as motivation to improve his wrestling to attain those goals.”