Somerset advances four wrestlers to state for first time in school historyBy qualifying four wrestlers for the 2012 WIAA State Championships, the Somerset wrestling team has already broken new ground.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
By qualifying four wrestlers for the 2012 WIAA State Championships, the Somerset wrestling team has already broken new ground.
The Spartans are hoping to add several more accomplishments when they wrestle in the state championships, which begin today (Thursday) at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Seniors Haydon Dvorak and Austin Bushinger and juniors Bobby LeRoy and Gabe Flandrick qualified for state with their performances at the Osceola Division 2 sectional meet on Saturday. This is the first time Somerset has qualified four wrestlers for the state wrestling tournament.
Somerset also achieved a rarity by advancing all four of its sectional qualifiers on to the state tournament.
Dvorak advances to state as a sectional champion. LeRoy and Flandrick placed second at the sectional. Bushinger took third place after suffering an injury in his championship match.
Dvorak is now 39-3 after winning the 182-pound championship at Osceola. Dvorak placed second at state last year and he’s ranked as the number one Division 2 182-pounder in the state. His performance Saturday only validated that voting further. He pinned his first two opponents. In the 182-pound finals, he was fully in control, beating St. Croix Central’s Kyle Aaby 12-3.
“Haydon was a man among boys,” said Somerset coach Mitch Flandrick. “He’s ranked number one for a reason and it’s his job to prove it.”
As a sectional champion, Dvorak gets a bye in the opening round of the state meet. His first match will be in the 11:15 a.m. session on Friday. He’ll face the winner of Thursday’s match between Sparta’s Kyle Burkhalter and Waupun’s Brady Heunink. If Dvorak can reach the state finals, he could get the chance to settle an old score. One of the favorites to reach the finals from the other side of the bracket is Belmont-Platteville’s Dusty Jentz. Jentz defeated Dvorak four years ago in overtime for the eighth grade state championship.
LeRoy raised his season record to 36-6 with his second place finish in the 120-pound bracket at Osceola. LeRoy rolled through his first two matches, pinning his opening opponent before scoring a 9-0 win in the semifinals. In the finals LeRoy faced defending state runner-up Jack Pearce of Ashland. The first period was scoreless, with LeRoy choosing to work from the down position to start the second period. Pearce showed why he was a state finalist, locking LeRoy in a cradle twice to build up a 6-0 lead. Once LeRoy was able to get out from under Pearce, he began gaining ground in a hurry. He cut the margin to 9-6, before giving up a takedown in the final seconds that left the final score at 11-6.
LeRoy faced a wrestleback against James Klassen of St. Croix Falls, and LeRoy finished the match with a pin in 1:45.
LeRoy will wrestle in the 7:15 p.m. session at state on Thursday. He will face Brock Polhamus, a freshman from Sparta. If LeRoy wins that match, he would face Ryan Costello of Campbellsport. Costello and LeRoy met in last year’s state tournament. LeRoy took a 5-0 lead, before Costello threw him to the mat for a pin.
Gabe Flandrick had to take the long way back to get second place at the sectional meet in one of several weight classes packed with top Middle Border Conference wrestlers. Flandrick opened the action at 138 pounds with a technical fall win over Spooner’s Patrick Baker. In the semifinals Flandrick ran up against Melrose-Mindoro’s Erik Low. Low is a stocky, muscular opponent who blocked all of Flandrick’s takedown attempts. Low was able to score a 4-1 win.
That moved Flandrick into the wrestleback against Durand’s Andrew Hartmann. Many fans anticipated this matchup for the sectional title. Instead, the winner would get to state and the loser would be eliminated. Hartmann and Flandrick have wrestled many close matches and this was another, with the score tied 1-1 after six minutes. In the overtime Flandrick shot in with a single, the same move he used in the conference championship match against Hartmann. Hartmann successfully countered the move that day to get the winning takedown. This time, Hartmann tried the same countermove. Flandrick was ready, hooking a leg around Hartmann that allowed him to swing behind Hartmann for the winning takedown.
Flandrick then got a chance to wrestle back to second place. He used takedowns in the first two periods to defeat Amery’s Eduardo Benitez 5-2. This gives Flandrick a 40-3 record for the season.
The state bracketing lays out with good possibilities for Flandrick. He opens against Jasper Meeker of Dodgeville, who has a 28-14 record. The winner of that match will face Stetson McCulley of Valders. Flandrick has beaten McCulley in each of the past two state tournaments.
While Dvorak, LeRoy and Flandrick have wrestled at state before, this is the first time Bushinger has qualified for the WIAA state meet. Bushinger was strong in his first two matches, pinning opponents from Stanley-Boyd and Barron. In the finals Bushinger faced undefeated Damien Luchterhand of Neillsville, who has dominated opponents in this sectional for most of the past four years. Bushinger put up a good fight, but lost 9-3.
In the final 15 seconds of that match, Luchterhand was driving a hard arm bar that caused severe pain in Bushinger’s arm. The Spartan coaches elected to have Bushinger sit out the second place match, leaving him in third place with a record of 39-5.
Doctors advised Bushinger that he suffered a stinger, causing pain and numbness in his arm and hand. He was held out of practice on Monday and Tuesday, with the plan to have him practice on Wednesday.
Bushinger is scheduled to wrestle in Thursday’s 7:15 p.m. session against Southern Door sophomore Nolan Wagner. This match has added significance for the Spartan senior, because Bushinger currently stands at 99 career wins. A win Thursday would make him the third Spartan to reach 100 career wins this season.