Blackman, Dowd win 2013 New Richmond Invitational titles for TigersDespite having just one senior in the lineup, the New Richmond Invitational produced a banner day for the host Tiger wrestling team on Saturday.
Despite having just one senior in the lineup, the New Richmond Invitational produced a banner day for the host Tiger wrestling team on Saturday.
New Richmond produced two champions in junior Shane Blackman and sophomore Derek Dowd, two second place finishes and four third place finishes. The Tigers finished second among the eight squads in the team point competition.
The competition in this year’s NRI was fierce, with state-ranked Clear Lake and St. Croix Central leading the competition. Clear Lake won the team title in the meet. New Richmond coach Mark Neumann was quite pleased with his team’s performance, especially considering that a respiratory bug has hammered the team. Senior Abe Anderson was not allowed to wrestle because of the illness and several other Tigers were weakened because of it. Neumann said that if his team had been at full strength, it would have contended evenly with Clear Lake for the title.
The only senior in the lineup at the NRI for the Tigers was Aaron Daul, who also has been battling illness. Daul had to sit out the semifinals, but came back to win the third place match at 160 pounds.
The championships by Blackman and Dowd show how potent the Tigers are in the younger grades.
“I like these kids. We’re going to be tough in the future,” Coach Neumann predicted.
Blackman won the 120-pound championship, though he wasn’t the top seed. That went to Clear Lake’s Tim Anderson, who Blackman faced in the finals. Anderson took an early lead, but Blackman soon learned how to deal with Anderson’s height advantage. Blackman put Anderson to his back three times in winning 12-6. Both of the state-ranked wrestlers finished the match with 21-3 season records.
Dowd pinned his way to the 126-pound finals, where he met another ranked opponent from Clear Lake, Alex Colbeth. Dowd scored early and didn’t leave any openings for Colbeth to score, winning 4-1. Dowd now has a 19-6 record.
Taking second place were Garrett Hildebrandt at 113 pounds and Austin Anderson at 138 pounds. Hildebrandt can’t get into the lineup every match because the Tigers are so strong in the lower weights. He showed what he can do, reaching the finals, where he lost to Clear Lake’s Cody Shafer, another of in a long list of ranked Warrior wrestlers.
Anderson nearly pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament in the 138-pound finals. He twice had Somerset’s Bobby LeRoy on his back, but couldn’t get the pin. LeRoy was able to come back for an 11-10 win.
Anderson and LeRoy had wrestled earlier in the tournament and LeRoy won 10-2. Coach Neumann said Anderson wrestled defensively in the first meeting, so he encouraged Anderson to go on the offensive in the championship match. Neumann said Anderson can produce more positive results if he continues to stay on the attack.
Joining Daul as third place finishers for the Tigers were Seth Leavens at 106 pounds, Dylan Dowd at 113 pounds and Dominic Ficociello at 170 pounds. Ficociello put up good battles against two highly-ranked opponents, Clear Lake’s Garrett Paulson (22-2) and St. Croix Central’s Cody Nyhagen (15-1).
The 170-pound bracket produced what was likely a first for the NRI. Because there were so many wrestlers ill or injured by the end of the day, none of the four final round matches was wrestled. All four went down as forfeits.
Some of the youngest Tigers produced promising results. Freshmen John Keifer and Caleb Neumann both finished the tournament with three straight wins to take fifth place in their brackets.
Facing ranked teams was the theme of the week because the Tigers nearly pulled off an upset against state-ranked Amery in a Middle Border Conference dual last Thursday. The Tigers led nearly the entire match, but Amery was able to win the final match to pull out a 33-32 win over the Tigers.
New Richmond’s strength in the lower weights helped the Tigers build up a 25-6 lead. Blackman, Derek Dowd and Keifer earned pins, followed by decisions from the Anderson brothers to build that margin. Amery then gained ground through the upper weights, though decision wins by Ficociello and Jake Rose helped the Tigers keep a slim lead heading into the final match. The final match was at 106 pounds, where Amery’s state-ranked Andrew Smith was able to score a 14-3 win to earn the team victory for the Warriors.
Coach Neumann said this match was a learning experience for the younger Tigers, showing them how important every point in every match can be.
“We counted seven different things we could have done,” Neumann said, to either not give Amery an extra point or to earn an extra team point that would have turned this into a tie.
The match drew a large crowd, with the anticipation that this was a battle for second place in the final MBC dual meet standings.
The Tigers will hold their Parents’ Night dual meet this Thursday, facing Osceola at 7 p.m. The varsity match will be preceded by a youth dual match between New Richmond and Osceola, which begins at 5:30 p.m.