St. Croix Central wrestlers send largest group to state in quarter centurySt. Croix Central will be taking the largest group of wrestlers to the WIAA state meet in a quarter century.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
St. Croix Central will be taking the largest group of wrestlers to the WIAA state meet in a quarter century.
Five Panther wrestlers qualified for the 2012 WIAA State Wrestling Championships with their performance at the Osceola Division 2 sectional meet on Saturday.
This is the largest group of state qualifiers for the Panthers since 1989, when the Panthers finished in second place in the WIAA team competition.
Advancing to the 2012 state meet for the Panthers are Adam Lewis, Cody Nyhagen, Kyle Aaby, Marcus Malecek and Lauden Wood. Nyhagen and Malecek advance as sectional champions.
Malecek is the only undefeated wrestler in the 220-pound Division 2 state bracket. As a sectional champion, Malecek receives an opening round bye at state. His first match will be in the 11:15 a.m. session on Friday. He will face the winner of the match between Freedom’s Reed Ambrosius and Adams Friendship’s Tyler Burrows.
Malecek ran his season record to 45-0 with his three wins in the sectional meet. Central coach Brad Holzer said Malecek wrestled smart, conservative matches at the sectional, not giving his opponents the chance to pull off an upset.
“Marcus knew kids would come out head-hunting, looking for that one big move,” Holzer said.
Malecek opened the sectional with a pin against Chetek-Prairie Farm’s Dylan Kimber. In the semifinals he faced an active opponent in Ashland’s Anthony Mrdjenovich, controlling the action for a 7-1 win. In the finals Malecek maintained the same approach, beating Spencer-Columbus Catholic’s Nick Vaughan 4-1.
Nyhagen also gets an opening bye at state. He will wrestle Friday against the winner of Thursday’s match between Port Washington’s Adam Dreikosen and Wrightstown’s Jackson Fox. Local fans may remember Fox. He defeated Nyhagen at state last year. He also was one of the premier players for the Wrightstown’s state championship football team that defeated Somerset.
Nyhagen has been unstoppable since losing in the dual meet against Spring Valley. He scored a first period pin in his opening sectional match against Rice Lake’s Matthew Orne. In his semifinal and final matches, Nyhagen scored early, then maintained a smart lead. He defeated Neillsville’s Mitchell Pohlman 3-1 in the semifinals and Spencer-Columbus Catholic’s Dan Schubert 6-2 in the finals.
Lewis and Aaby were second place finishers. Lewis had to battle back after losing his opening match to Osceola’s John Olson, who went on to win the 106-pound sectional championship.
Olson decisioned Lewis 9-3. Lewis began the long road back to second place by beating Rice Lake’s Jim Smith in the wrestlebacks 2-1. In the third place match, Lewis pinned Ellsworth’s Cody Raebel, securing Lewis a place in the state field. Lewis then moved on to the second place match, where he defeated Drew Wheeler of St. Croix Falls 5-2.
Lewis, who is 39-7, will wrestle at state in the 7:15 p.m. session on Thursday against Delevan-Darien senior Austin Schwarz.
Aaby ranks as one of the biggest surprises of the season for the Panthers. After battling bad knees his first two seasons, he was able to wrestle a full junior season and prove that he is a state caliber wrestler.
“He’s such a nice kid. For him to step to the forefront this season was great,” Holzer said of Aaby.
Aaby started the sectional meet by beating Medford’s Aaron Harder 3-1. Aaby pulled off an upset in the semifinals, beating St. Croix Falls standout Joe Rademacher 3-1. Rademacher brought a 40-2 record into that match. Aaby got a first period takedown off pure hustle. He never gave Rademacher an opening in the rest of the match.
In the finals Aaby ran up against Somerset standout Haydon Dvorak, who took second place at state last year. Dvorak scored a 12-3 victory.
Aaby’s opening draw at state is another junior, Jordan Pardowsky of Luxemburg-Casco. Aaby takes a 27-10 record into that match, while Pardowsky is 37-14.
Wood advances as the third place finisher in the 285-pound sectional bracket. He was the lightest heavyweight to compete at state last year and he’ll likely hold that distinction again this year. He weighed in at 208 pounds at the sectional meet.
Wood opened the sectional meet with a 9-3 win over Spencer-Columbus Catholic’s Kyle Andreae. In the semifinals faced a much larger Alex Lennartson of Unity. Wood was able to stay out of Lennartson’s grasp for nearly two full periods. Late in the second period, Lennartson was able to suck in Wood’s arm, quickly dropping him to the mat for the pin at 3:51.
That put Wood in the third place match against Brandon Mikyska of Chetek-Prairie Farm. Wood didn’t leave any doubt, building a lead and then pinning Mikyska at the 4:49 mark.
Wood takes a 41-5 record into the state meet. His opening opponent is George White Wing of Wittenberg-Birnamwood, who owns a 41-7 record.
The Panthers had three others wrestle at the sectional. Senior Alex Halvorson, junior Austin Edison and freshman Ryan Gulich weren’t able to advance. Edison and Gulich both wrestled in two matches on Saturday, which will be valuable experience for them leading into next season.