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ST. CROIX FALLS — Even after winning his first sectional wrestling championship here last Saturday, Glenwood City sophomore Ian Radintz knows his journey is not yet complete.
Radintz, one of two Glenwood City wrestlers that entered the day unbeaten, has one more tournament to wrestle, one more podium to ascend, one more goal to achieve all leading to a singular dream he wants to fulfill.
“Ian’s goal has always been to win a state championship,” said his head coach Shane Strong.
Now, he is on the verge of making that goal a reality after claiming the 106-pound gold medal in the 2021 WIAA Division 3 Individual Sectional tournament held at St. Croix Falls High School Saturday, February 6.
Taking lightweight crown has propelled Radintz to his first-ever state individual wrestling championship, an honor he definitely earned with an exciting 1-0 semifinal victory over the state’s top-ranked wrestler – freshman Dawson Johnson of Cumberland.
“He lost to Johnson in the Dells back in December,” said Strong. “But made a few adjustments to give himself a better chance to win the match. I thought he executed very well, stayed focused and beat a great wrestler.”
“Ian has worked extremely hard not only during the season, but most of all in the off-season to reach this level,” added Strong. “He is disciplined in his weight management, practices at a high level every day and puts in the mental preparation it takes to be a champion.”
This year’s state tournament has been split into three, one-day tournaments set to run simultaneously this Saturday, February 13 with each Division competition hosted by a different high school due to COVID concerns. The Division 3 meet is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. at Wausau East High School.
The Hilltoppers other four sectional participants, unfortunately, were unable to secure neither a state berth nor a medal in the tough St. Croix Falls’ tournament that featured several state-ranked wrestlers and teams.
Although a pair of first-time sectional competitors did place for Glenwood City.
One of Radintz’s classmates, Trenton McNamara copped a fourth-place finish at 285 pounds while junior Thomas Moede took sixth at 152 pounds in their first sectional competition.
Two other sophomores, 132-pounder Gabe Knops and James Knight, who qualified at 120 pounds, came up empty handed in their collective quests for medals and state berths as well.
In the year of pandemic policy and guidelines, only the first and second-place finishers in each weight class advanced to state, a departure from the normal top-three format.
As a team, Glenwood City placed tenth in the sectional field of 22 teams. The Toppers scored 37 points, 22 of which came on Radintz’ run to victory at 106 pounds with another 13 points scored on McNamara’s 2-2, two-pin performance at heavyweight.
A quartet of state-ranked squads filled the top four spots in the final team tally. Fifth-ranked Cadott rallied in the final round and wrestle backs to beat host and tenth ranked St. Croix Falls 170 to 161 for the team sectional title and berth in the Division 3 state team tournament which is set to be held Saturday, February 20 at Wausau West High. Stratford, last year’s team sectional champion and this year’s seventh-ranked D3 team, came in third with 152 points followed by honorable mention Boyceville in fourth with a score of 138.5.
While his teammates had contested quarterfinal matches Saturday, Radintz received a rare, first-round bye and an opportunity to mentally and physically prepare for his biggest match of the season to date.
Radintz showed that he was ready for his rematch showdown that pitted the number one Dawson Johnson against number two Ian Radintz.
Despite taking place on mat three which was located in the sparsely attended middle school gym, Radintz and Johnson gave truly championship efforts. Neither wrestler was able to score until Radintz worked free to score an escape in the third period and then held off Johnson’s frantic take down attempts to prevail 1-0 to earn a spot in the finals and for all intents an purposes his first state berth.
In the final at 106 pounds, Radintz wrestled St. Croix Falls freshman upstart Kellen Kelly, who had used a major decision and a pin fall to gain his spot in the championship. The Glenwood City grappler, however, was not about to bow to pressure or his opponent as he washed away any lingering aftertaste from last year’s bitter sectional performance by dominating Kelly 11-4 to earn the gold medal and a coveted state berth.
“He has known he has work to do if he wants to reach his ultimate goal of becoming a state champion,” said Strong after Radintz’s sectional triumph.
Radintz will take his untarnished 15-0 record and aspirations to Wausau this Saturday to battle for a state championship.
Three of the Toppers other four sectional competitors – Trenton McNamara, Thomas Moede, and Gabe Knops – all suffered opening-round (quarterfinal) losses by fall but stayed in the hunt for both a medal and a state berth. Meanwhile, 126-pounder James Knight never got the opportunity to even take to the mat in his first sectional meet as he was unable to make weight and had to forfeit both of his matches.
After winning the regional meet, sophomore heavyweight Trenton McNamara was able to avoid a first-round match-up against either of his weight class’s, pardon the pun, “Heavyweights”, top-ranked and defending state champion Tanner Gaffey of St. Croix Falls and second-ranked and state runner-up Wade Stanger of Ladysmith.
But, as it turned out that didn’t mean McNamara was out of danger. He was upended by a late, first-period pin from fellow sophomore Patrick Greenberg of Stratford in a 285-pound quarterfinal.
McNamara showed some fortitude and resilience however, rebounding to score first period pins in his next two consolation round matches.
In the consolation semifinal, McNamara needed just 50 ticks to stick Lucas Simon of Cumberland, who lost in 24 seconds to Stanger in the quarters. McNamara then knocked off Logan Werner of Marathon, who had beaten his nemesis Keegan Plemon of Boyceville on a 13-2 major in the quarterfinals before falling in the semis to Gaffey, via a fall in 1:20 to gain a spot in third-place match. In that battle for the bronze, Plemon avenged last week’s regional finals loss to McNamara with a late second period pin. McNamara settled for fourth on the day and capped his season with a 10-6 recorded.
Junior Thomas Moede suffered an opening loss via pin to fourth-ranked Jacob Heiden of Stratford at 152 pounds but received a bye in his first consolation round that placed him in medal contention. Moede lost his next two matches – a fall to tenth-ranked Cole Pfeiffer of Cadott in the consolation semis and on a 7-1 setback to Spring Valley/Elmwood’s Max Schmitt in the fifth-place match to finish his season with a sixth in the sectional meet and a 7-8 record.
“Thomas Moede continues to show improvement in his wrestling from a year ago,” noted Strong. “He competed well, had a positive attitude and showed he belonged there in a tough bracket.”
The Hilltoppers other unbeaten wrestler heading into Saturday, sophomore Gabe Knops, not only had to battle injury but some bad luck.
Competing on an injured ankle, Knops built an impressive 10-0 lead over Marathon senior Jared Sweno, who finished as the runner-up, in the pair’s quarterfinal match at 132 pounds only to get caught and pinned in the second period. Knops’ day and season ended in the next match when he was decisioned 5-2 in a consolation semifinal by junior Justin Fowler of Chetek-Weyerhaeuser/Prairie Farm. Knops, who was also eliminated in last year’s sectional meet, tallied a 12-2 mark this season.
“Gabe Knops competed on an injured ankle, showing grit and toughness. He was dominating 10-0 over the runner-up when he was caught out of position and was headlocked resulting in a loss. Sometimes things don’t go the way you planned, but Gabe showed toughness competing against the best in our sectional,” said Strong.
“It has been a difficult year, but we are excited for the upcoming weekend and for the future of GC wrestling,” concluded Strong.