St. Croix Central gets six wrestlers in finals at BRC-DSC ChallengeBy getting six wrestlers into the finals, St. Croix Central was the highest ranking Dunn-St. Croix Conference team in the 2012 Big Rivers-Dunn-St. Croix Wrestling Challenge, held on Saturday at River Falls High School.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
By getting six wrestlers into the finals, St. Croix Central was the highest ranking Dunn-St. Croix Conference team in the 2012 Big Rivers-Dunn-St. Croix Wrestling Challenge, held on Saturday at River Falls High School.
The Panthers finished in third among the 12 teams in the tournament with 199 points. Hudson won the team title with 214 points. The Panthers were 3.5 points behind second place Chippewa Falls. The Panthers did finish seven points in front of Spring Valley, the D-SC dual meet champion.
Six Panthers reached championship matches on Saturday. Seniors Marcus Malecek and Lauden Wood and junior Cody Nyhagen were tournament champions, with Adam Lewis, Carl Moll and Matt Smith finishing in second place. With their three champions, the Panthers tied Hudson and Glenwood City for the most champions in this year’s Challenge.
Central coach Brad Holzer was mildly pleased with his team’s performance in the tournament.
“We wrestled good, but probably not our best. I think we just as easily could have turned a couple matches around and won the tournament,” Holzer said.
This was one of the deepest pools of talent in the BRC-DSC tournament with both conferences bringing in a number of highly-ranked grapplers. There were numerous weight classes where two state-ranked wrestlers met in the finals.
Malecek’s win in the 220-pound finals was one of the most anticipated matches of the day. Malecek is undefeated, but that still wasn’t enough to get him the top seed. That honor went to Chippewa Falls senior Grant Schindler, the second-ranked 220-pounder in Division 1. Malecek was able to control the action in the match, winning 2-0 to run his season record to 39-0.
“Marcus has it in his mind now that he can beat anyone in the state,” Holzer said.
Wood is the antithesis of the typical heavyweight wrestler. While most heavyweights try to push around their opponents in tie-ups for six minutes, Wood actually throws in moves that accentuate his quickness. That’s what Wood did in the finals, getting in for single- and double-leg takedowns in his 7-4 win over Menomonie’s Connor Hanson.
“The snatch singles have really been working so well for him,” Holzer said.
Nyhagen looked like he is tournament ready after beating Hudson’s Tanner Owens 5-3 in the 160-pound finals. Owens is ranked fifth in Division 1 at 160 pounds.
“That was probably his best match of the year,” Holzer said. “He was aggressive, finishing his moves.”
Adam Lewis wrestled well to reach the 113-pound finals on Saturday. In the finals he ran into a buzzsaw, losing by technical fall to Quinn Miracle of Chippewa Falls.
Junior Carl Moll wrestled quite well in the 145-pound finals against Boyceville’s Josh Cormican. Cormican is ranked third in the state in Division 3. Moll gave Cormican an excellent challenge before losing 3-0.
Central senior Matt Smith was beaten by Hudson’s Dima Hawksford in the 170-pound finals. Hawksford uses an unorthodox style where he works from a three-point or four-point stance and Smith had trouble adjusting to Hawksford’s approach. Holzer said he thinks Smith will learn from this loss, to recognize what scoring opportunities are available against each opponent.
This Saturday the Panthers will compete in the Division 2 regional tournament in Ellsworth. To say this regional bracket is loaded is an understatement. Central and Ellsworth will be joined by Baldwin-Woodville, Bloomer, Cornell-Gilman, Durand and Somerset in the tournament. The top two wrestlers in each weight class will advance to the sectional tournament. Ellsworth has made a tradition of winning this regional title, but Holzer said he thinks Central can give Ellsworth a battle for that honor this year.
“I truly believe, if we have a great day, we can hang right with them. There’s no reason why we can’t get seven or eight guys out of the regional,” Holzer said.