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INDEPENDENCE — Head coach Jamie Olson was concerned after his Boyceville wrestlers lost three of their seven quarterfinal matches in last Saturday’s individual wrestling sectional meet.
As it turned out, there was no reason to be!
Two of the three Bulldogs that had lost their opening-round matches, received reprieves when the wrestler they had lost to, won in the next round.
Those two joined the other four Boyceville wrestlers and together they won an astounding 12 of their subsequent 14 matches at the 2019 WIAA Division 3 Individual Wrestling Sectional tournament held last Saturday, February 16 at Independence High School.
All six qualified for this week’s state championships, three of which will enter the competition at the Kohl Center as sectional champions.
That equaled last year’s total of state entrants, the most Boyceville has sent to the state tournament since seven made it in 2003.
Senior Brock Schlough and sophomore Trett Joles repeated as sectional champions while freshman Josiah Berg captured his first sectional crown just a week after doing the same in the regional fray.
That trio will be joined by sophomore and second-place finisher Nathan Stuart and senior Nick Goodell and freshman Ira Bialzik, both of whom took third, in Madison’s Kohl Center for the WIAA Individual State Wrestling Championships which start tomorrow, Thursday, February 21 and concludes Saturday evening, February 23 with championship matches in all three divisions.
“What a great day to be a Bulldog wrestler, fan and coach,” stated Coach Olson following the conclusion of this year’s sectional tournament.
“It ranks up there with some of the best sectional performances for me,” Olson added. “We sent seven in 2003 and that was definitely a special day, this tournament reminded me a lot of that day. The kids wrestled with passion, heart and no fear. To go 16-5 in a sectional is wrestling tough”
Boyceville’s exuberance was tempered a bit as its seventh sectional participant, Tyler Dormanen, was eliminated after an opening-round loss.
Still, last Saturday’s sectional performance by the Bulldogs will rank as one of their best.
Boyceville also finished third in the final team standings with 101 points. St. Croix Falls, who beat Boyceville just three days prior in the team sectional championship in Ladysmith to secure a second straight berth to the team state competition, won the meet with 112.5 points and had seven state qualifiers and two sectional champs. Cadott came in second with 103.5 and will also have six competing at state. Phillips (90), Clear Lake (58) and Cumberland (54), who finished third through sixth respectively, each had three wrestlers make the state cut as the top three finishers in each weight class earn state berths.
Two of the most impressive performances of the sectional meet were turned in by a pair of unbeaten Bulldog grapplers.
Brock Schlough and Trett Joles both improved to 47-0 on the season en route to capturing sectional gold in Independence last Saturday.
Brock Schlough’s four-year varsity wrestling carer has brought him several awards and accolades which now includes a fourth consecutive individual sectional championship.
Schlough used his final sectional tournament as a spring board to the state championship and his quest for a fourth state title.
Ranked number one at 152 pounds the entire season, Schlough showed Saturday why the odds are high that he will be successful in that quest for a fourth state gold.
Unbeaten the past two seasons, no one came close to tagging Schlough with a loss at sectionals.
He opened the day by pinning Whitehall’s Ryan Kleinhans just 1:13 into their quarterfinal’s match.
Schlough then followed it up with a pair of second-period, 15-0 technical fall shutouts to claim his second sectional gold at 152 pounds.
Schlough defeated Brandon Bruneau of Phillips 3:11 into the semifinals and then needed just 2:48 to end the finals match against Korey Catts of Clear Lake, who he also beat the previous Saturday, 16-0, in the regional final.
The latest victories improved the record of Boyceville’s career wins leader to 180-5.
Trett Joles’ sectional effort may have been even more eye-popping.
The sophomore-on-a-mission chalked up three, first-period pins on his way to winning the 192-pound sectional championship.
Joles, currently 93-2 during his first two years of varsity competition, put away Independence/Gilmanton’s Brennon Campbell just 1:08 into their quarterfinal. In the semis, Joles needed only 58 seconds to defeat fellow sophomore McKinley Erickson of St. Croix Falls.
Facing Cadott’s Ethan Tegels in the championship match for a second straight week, Trett worked the fall in just 1:51 which was nearly four minutes quicker than he stuck Tegels in the regional title match.
“What do you say about Trett and Brock?”, quipped Olson.
“These are two really special kids and wrestlers. They have been dominate all year and Saturday was no different. I’m a fortunate coach to be able to sit mat side and watch these two go to work.”
Also a pleasure and not so much of a surprise anymore is the success of first-year high school wrestler Josiah Berg.
The freshman beat a pair of fellow state-ranked wrestlers to win the 106-pound sectional crown.
Berg, ranked eighth, opened the tournament with a 2:48 fall over Phillips’ Mathias Hoogland. He then edged out once-beaten and fourth-ranked Cameron freshman Tanner Gerber with a 6-4 decision in the semifinals. In the finals, Berg tangled with St. Croix Falls’ Luke Theamert for the second time in three days. Having beaten the fourth-ranked Saint junior 6-5 in Wednesday night’s team sectional championship dual in Ladysmith, Berg again held the upper hand, claiming the sectional title with a 6-3 victory this time around.
Another Boyceville freshman that served notice Saturday was Ira Bialzik. He finished third at 126 pounds despite losing his opening quarterfinal’s match to eventual runner-up Jaden Schienebeck of Chequamegon.
Bialzik rebounded nicely scoring a fall over Zack Clark of St. Croix Falls in the consolation semifinals and a 8-6 decision to take third place over Julian Spriggle of Cochrane-Fountain City.
“How about the performances of Berg and Bialzik,” said Olson. “These two wrestled awesome! Berg was a hammer today and Bialzik was relentless. Both kids wrestled with no fear in mind, just grit and determination.”
Another outstanding individual performance was turned in by sophomore Nate Stuart. He earned his way into the championship match at 126 pounds with a second-period, quarterfinal’s pin of Graidy Guggisberg and a close 5-4 semifinal win against Dominic Kurth of Phillips.
Although Stuart fell 12-6 to the second-ranked senior Trent Vollendorf of Ladysmith in the championship, Stuart held off Cadott’s Kaleb Stuart in the wrestleback and retained his silver medal with a 12-5 victory.
“Nate wrestled a great tournament,” stated Olson. “He brought intensity to every match and it showed with his impressive performance. Nate’s focus the last three weeks has been the key to his performance and is so deserving of this.”
Boyceville’s final state qualifier was senior Nick Goodell.
But he made the most of his opportunity, finishing third at 138 pounds to grab a state berth.
Like Bialzik, Goodell suffered a first-round loss. St. Croix Falls freshman phenom Kole Marko, ranked fourth, scored a 20-8 major decision over Goodell. But the Boyceville senior was able to keep wrestling when Marko won his semifinal match and went on to capture the title.
Goodell took his second chance and parlayed it into 9-2 and 8-6 victories in the consolation semifinals and third-place match respectively. He even got the opportunity to wrestleback for second but top-ranked Cumberland senior kept the silver with a 12-4 major.
“Nick Goodell came to wrestle today,” said his coach. “He took advantage of his opportunity, never being at a sectional before. I knew it was going to take beating a couple really good kids, but I also knew with the work that Nick put in this year he was not going to be denied. I was so happy for him and his family.”
Tyler Dormanen’s freshman season came to an end at sectionals when he lost 7-6 to Zach Foley of Cochrane-Fountain City in the 132-pound quarterfinals. Foley lost in the semifinals which eliminated Dormanen from tournament competition.
“I really feel for Tyler Dormanen our other freshman in the tournament,” said Olson. “When you start out down five points against a tough kid, its hard to come back. Tyler battled back to come up one swipe short on a 3-point nearfall to tie the match is heart breaking. Tyler had a tremendous freshman year, so proud of this kid.”
But Olson also reminded his sectional participants that competing Saturday was an honor they should savor.
“We talked about enjoying the opportunity and really not worrying about opponents, just controlling what you can control. We had a tough week in trying to prepare for this tournament, with weather and the Wednesday dual. I was a little worried about how the kids were going to respond after a tough loss at team sectionals and getting back late. Our kids have been resilient all year and they showed up Saturday with a mission in mind,” concluded Olson.
While Schlough, Joles and Berg don’t wrestle until Friday’s quarterfinal matches, Goodell, Stuart and Bialzik will be competing in Thursday night’s state preliminary round at the Kohl Center with action get underway at 7:15 p.m.