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RIVER FALLS — The Northern Badger Wrestling Classic made a triumphant return last week following a one-year absence due to COVID-19.
As usual, the event provided spectators with some of the finest wrestling in this part of the state as it featured several ranked teams and wrestlers from all three divisions.
Boyceville was once again in the mix as it had three wrestlers place to make the podium stand at the 2021 Northern Badger Classic which was held at River Falls High School last Wednesday and Thursday, December 29 and 30.
Senior Tyler Dormanen led the Bulldogs charge taking second place at 182 pounds in his final Northern Badger tournament. Junior Sebastian Nielson copped a fourth-place finish at 195 pounds while senior heavyweight Keegan Plemon took ninth.
“All three of my place winners wrestled exceptionally well,” stated veteran head coach Jamie Olson.
Those three along with sophomore Wyatt Sell, who scored seven team points while going 2-2 at 113 pounds, accounted for all 96 of the Bulldogs points. That tally gave Boyceville a third-place finish in the Division 3 (small school) standings which was won by rival Glenwood City with a score of 157. Overall, Boyceville finished 22nd in the 41-school tournament which was won by defending Division 2 state champion Amery with 340 points.
Dormanen, a third-place state finisher at 170 pounds last season, came into the tournament as the Bulldogs’ top-ranked wrestler having been slotted as number 3 at 182 pounds in the most recent Division 3 state poll.
He lived up to that billing as he qualified for the finals in River Falls last week.
After receiving a first-round bye, Dormanen’s first action came against Baldwin-Woodville’s Kyle Marty. It took the Bulldog senior just 1:25 to put Marty to his back with a quick pin. He then wrapped up the first day of wrestling with another first-period fall taking down Easton Stone of Rice Lake just 1:47 into the duo’s quarterfinal’s match.
Day two dawned with Dormanen having to match up against eighth ranked Grant Cole of Amery in the semifinals. Dormanen pulled out a 7-6 decision to earn a spot in the finals and an opportunity for his first Northern Badger crown.
Unfortunately, Dormanen came up short in his bid for gold as Northwestern’s Ian Smith (20-1), ranked fifth in Division 2, defeated him 7-3 in a close battle to take the top podium spot at 182 pounds.
The 4-1 finish bolstered Dormanen’s season mark which currently stands at 18-2.
“Tyler wrestled a great tournament,” Coach Olson said. “He lost a couple of scrambles in that championship (match) that could have gone either way. If he came out on top in just one of those then it would have been a different match.”
“Tyler is wrestling at a high level and is going to be fun to watch down the stretch,” he added.
195-pound junior Sebastian “Bash” Nielson had a great first day of competition at the Northern Badger racking up three wins including a pair of falls. After an opening-round bye, Nielson stuck Arcadia’s Miguel Sepulveda in 3:46. He delivered another fall in his quarterfinal’s match, taking out Gavin Rossow of Spooner/Webster in 4:57. That win put Bash into the Day two semifinals.
There he would have to face number two ranked Kale Hopke of Amery. While Nielson gave a valiant effort, Hopke eventually earned the pin fall at 4:32. The loss sent Nielson into the third-place match at 195 pounds opposite top ranked Max Ramberg of Baldwin-Woodville. Ramberg scored the quick pin as Nielson had to settle for fourth place following a 3-2 effort in the tournament.
“Bash looked really good considering he hasn’t had a lot of mat time,” noted Olson. “He continues to improve every day and taking fourth in a solid bracket was a great accomplishment.”
The Bulldogs third and final place winner was Keegan Plemon. The senior, who is listed seventh in the recent D3 heavyweight state poll, finished the two-day tournament with a 4-2 mark and a ninth-place finish. Plemon, who received a first-round bye, went 2-1 on opening day, winning by pin over Cumberland’s Jack Chafer before being beaten 7-1 by Moson Baribeau of Baldwin-Woodville in the 285-pound quarterfinals.
Plemon’s second day of competition saw him take a 9-2 opening loss to Edgar’s Waylon Wirkus. But, the Bulldogs’ heavyweight rallied for two straight victories – first-period pins over Craig Ervin of Regis/Altoona and Esaube Brown of Lakeland/Mercer – to finish in ninth place.
“Keegan placing ninth was a nice tournament for him,” said Olson. “He ran into the fifth-place finisher in the first round of wrestlebacks so that was a tough draw.”
Sophomore Wyatt Sell picked up some team points by finishing 2-2 at 113 pounds.
Junior Makayla Schewe (120) and freshman Jack Bialzik (132) both finished 1-2 while Ryker Benitz (126), Keegan Cole (152), and Brayan Vasquez (160) were 0-2 in the tournament.
The Bulldogs will be back on the mat this Thursday when they host Spring Valley/Elmwood in the Dunn-St. Croix opener. They will then travel to Merril on Saturday to partake in the Blue Jay Invitational.