Gartner, Martin, Emmeck win MBC titlesThere were few believers when the New Richmond wrestling team claimed that winning the Middle Border Conference championship was the team’s goal at the 2008 MBC tournament in Baldwin on Saturday.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
Tigers nearly make prediction of team championship a reality
There were few believers when the New Richmond wrestling team claimed that winning the Middle Border Conference championship was the team’s goal at the 2008 MBC tournament in Baldwin on Saturday.
The Tigers converted a lot of wrestling fans into believers during the tournament on Saturday. The Tigers led going into the final round. Ellsworth was able to pull out the team championship by winning six individual championships, while the Tigers had one champion in the tournament.
That championship was won by junior Bradley Gartner in the 119-pound class. Gartner’s win over Ellsworth’s Chace Kinneman was so impressive that Gartner was voted as the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler.
Gartner is now 35-3 after beating Kinneman, one of the top-ranked 119-pounders in Division 2. Gartner also beat Kinneman when they met in the dual meet season.
“It’s tough to beat a good guy once, much less twice,” said Tiger coach Mark Neumann of Gartner’s championship.
The Tigers had three other wrestlers reach the finals in the conference tournament. Cole Johnston, Blake Jacobson and Tom Volkert all were defeated in their efforts to win a conference title.
Johnston and Somerset’s Tony Martin put on an exhaustive battle for the 171-pound championship. Martin got an early lead and Johnston kept battling to try to regain the lead. He never could, however, falling to Martin 14-10. Johnston now has a 19-10 record for the season.
Jacobson was one of the surprises of the tournament. There were two wrestlers who weren’t seeded first or second who reached the finals of the tournament. Jacobson was one of them. He reached the finals by upsetting Baldwin-Woodville’s Spencer Corey by a 6-3 score in the semifinals. Jacobson then faced Prescott’s Jake Filkins in the finals. Neumann said Filkins was an All-American wrestler over the summer. Filkins hadn’t wrestled until recently because of a football injury, but he had a distinct size advantage on Jacobson. Jacobson was leading until Filkins was able to throw Jacobson to his back and score the pin in the second period.
Jacobson is now 20-9 this season.
Volkert and Somerset’s Darrin Emmeck both wrestled cautiously in the 215-pound championship match. The score was tied 2-2 at the end of regulation. In the overtime period Volkert tried to force the action and was able to drop Emmeck to the mat. Before Volkert could get around for the takedown, Emmeck countered and was able to get behind Volkert for the takedown.
Volkert’s record now stands at 32-5.
The reason the Tigers were able to contend for the team title was the strong effort throughout the line. All 14 Tigers placed fifth or higher and 13 of the 14 placed fourth or higher. Seven of the 14 Tigers placed higher than they were seeded in the tournament.
“It was a great effort by all the kids,” Coach Neumann said. “We beat a lot of people who beat us during the course of the year.”
Five of the Tigers took third in their weight class. Jon Keller, Nick Turany, Cody Chouinard, Wylee Schmit and Justin Gillis all were third place finishers. Turany waited all season for his chance to move into the varsity lineup. With Keller moving down to 103 pounds for the tournaments, Turany stepped and gave a strong showing.
Placing fourth in the tournament for the Tigers were Charlie Gartner, Jared Kerr, Jake Rebhan and Joel Neumann. Josh Berends, usually a 145-pounder, stepped into a vacancy at 160 pounds in the lineup and finished in fifth place.
This Saturday the Tigers begin the WIAA tournament series when they compete in the River Falls Division 1 regional meet. There will be strong competition at this meet with Hudson, River Falls, Chippewa Falls, Menomonie, Superior, Eau Claire Memorial and Eau Claire North joining the Tigers in the meet. The top four wrestlers in each class will advance to the D.C. Everest sectional meet the following Saturday.
Spartans improve from eighth place to fourth
Senior Tony Martin and junior Darrin Emmeck earned individual conference championships as the Somerset wrestling team took fourth place in the 2008 Middle Border Conference Wrestling Championships at Baldwin-Woodville High School on Saturday.
The Spartans finished one-half point out of third place in the tournament. That’s quite an improvement for a team that finished in eighth place in the tournament a year ago.
This step up in the conference is the first step in the long-range improvement that Coach Mike Kappers envisions for the Somerset program.
“The goal is to some day be up to the competitive level of Ellsworth, but that’s a ways away yet,” Kappers said.
With two champions, two second place finishes and one third place finish, the Spartans did have a big impact on this year’s tournament.
Martin kept up his unprecedented success in his first full season as a varsity wrestler, winning the 171-pound MBC championship with a 14-10 win over New Richmond’s Cole Johnston.
“What a leader and what a natural athlete,” Kappers said of Martin. “I love the heart of this kid.”
Martin started the tournament by pinning Prescott’s Todd Reis in 39 seconds in the quarterfinals. He then beat Ellsworth’s Jordan Borst in the semifinals 9-4. In the championship match, Martin immediately shot in on Johnston, getting a takedown in the first seconds of the match. The match was a relentless battle, with Johnston’s edge in experience as a good match for Martin’s athleticism.
In the end, Martin was able to maintain his lead and score the 14-10 win for his championship.
Emmeck followed a similar pattern to the finals. He opened the 215-pound class with a quick pin over Osceola’s Steve Raska. He had his hands full with Ellsworth’s Alex Hoyer in the semifinals, but was able to get a third period score to win 2-0.
In the finals Emmeck and New Richmond’s Tom Volkert looked like two Bighorn Sheep, butting heads for six minutes without either of them making much progress. At the end of regulation the score stood at 2-2.
In the overtime, Volkert momentarily knocked Emmeck to the mat and could have gotten the takedown if he could have scooted around Emmeck. Instead, Emmeck reacted quickly and stopped Volkert’s move. Emmeck quickly spun into Volkert and got control of him for the winning takedown.
Also reaching the finals for the Spartans were Ethan Bell at 112 pounds and Alex Praschak at 140 pounds. They both were beaten by Ellsworth wrestlers in the finals. Bell pinned his way to the finals. When he gave up points to Durand’s Ethan Hutter in the semifinals, it was the first time in seven matches Bell had been scored upon. He had outscored his opponents 93-0 in that stretch.
In the finals Bell couldn’t counter the strength of Ellsworth’s DJ Yarwood, who was able to score a 6-1 win.
Praschak drew an opening round bye, then had a tight battle in the semifinals with New Richmond’s Cody Chouinard. Praschak was able pull out a 5-4 win, putting him in the finals against Ellsworth’s Reuben Huppert. Huppert is a defending MBC champion. Praschak kept the match close early, trailing 2-0 after one period. Huppert’s strength and experience carried him to a 14-4 win.
Freshman Trevor Bushinger earned third place at 135 pounds for the Spartans. He won a wild match over New Richmond’s Jake Rebhan in overtime in the third place match.
Elliot Bell, Caleb Belter and Isaac Neumann were fourth place finishers for the Spartans in the conference tournament.
The Spartans now turn their focus to the WIAA Division 2 regional at Osceola this Saturday. Somerset, Osceola, Amery, Baldwin-Woodville, St. Croix Central and St. Croix Falls will be competing in the meet. Kappers said his goal is to see the Spartans win the regional championship.
“We could have six or seven guys in the finals, if we wrestle well,” Kappers said.