New Richmond wrestlers win three individual titles in 2013 MIddle Border Conference TournamentWhile much of the attention was steered toward the battle between Ellsworth and Amery for the top two team spots in the 2013 Middle Border Conference Wrestling Tournament, the New Richmond wrestling team nearly slipped into the top two places on Saturday.
While much of the attention was steered toward the battle between Ellsworth and Amery for the top two team spots in the 2013 Middle Border Conference Wrestling Tournament, the New Richmond wrestling team nearly slipped into the top two places on Saturday.
New Richmond was the host for the 2013 tournament and the Tigers put together a sharp overall performance. The Tigers earned three individual championships while finishing in third place in the team standings. Ellsworth won the meet with 263 points. Amery was second at 215 and the Tigers were third with 190.5 points.
New Richmond senior Abe Anderson became a two-time conference champion by winning the 132-pound class. New Richmond juniors Shane Blackman and Dominic Ficociello both were first-time conference champions.
Anderson went largely unchallenged in winning his title. He defeated Ellsworth’s Tristen Mueller 11-5 in the semifinals. In the finals he topped one of the bright young wrestling prospects in the area, Amery’s Bennett Paulson, 9-3.
Anderson is doing some of the most aggressive wrestling of his career. Tiger coach Mark Neumann said the goal is to have Anderson push the action more frequently and Anderson has followed through.
Blackman was competing for the first time in nearly a month due to injury. If there was any rust, Blackman shook it off quickly. He pinned Ellsworth’s Hunter Piepenburg in 26 seconds in the 113-pound semifinals. In the title match, Blackman faced state-ranked Andrew Smith of Amery. Blackman put this match away quickly too, pinning Smith in 2:37.
Ficociello was part of a logjam of Tigers between 160 and 195 pounds. He volunteered to move up from 160 to 182, with Kevin Kern moving from 182 to 195. It worked out well for both, with Kern taking third place in his class.
Ficociello wasn’t expected to be a factor at 182, but he raised some eyebrows when he beat Ellsworth’s Devin Myers 7-5 in the opening round. Ficociello drew more attention when he manhandled the second seed, Baldwin-Woodville’s Joe Nawrocki in the semifinals, pinning him in 3:15.
That moved Ficociello into the finals against top seed Joe Lundgren of Amery. They would produce the most dramatic finish of the finals.
Ficociello was able to build a substantial lead in the first period, but Lundgren kept coming back. With 30 seconds left, Lundgren got a takedown that put him ahead, 9-8. Ficociello stayed active, forcing Lundgren to lock his hands. The refs let action continue, noting that Ficociello would get the penalty point. As the clock ran out, Ficociello was able to escape, getting the winning point.
“He wasn’t a blip on anyone’s radar,” Neumann said of Ficociello’s chances of winning a title. “He was giving up a ton of weight, though it was best for the team for him to be up there.”
Also reaching the finals for the Tigers was sophomore Derek Dowd at 126 pounds. Dowd was able to avenge a loss to Prescott’s Alex Stuhl in the semifinals, winning 5-2. Dowd and Ellsworth’s Brad Cain locked in a tight battle in the finals. Cain was able to pull out a 5-4 win.
Kern was one of four Tigers who took third place in their weight class. Garret Hildebrandt lost out on a close call in the 106-pound semifinals to state-ranked Josh Hustad of Osceola, but he came back to win the third place match 9-2.
Senior John Greening scored three wins in the 120-pound bracket, including a 5-4 win over Prescott’s Bailey Langer in the third place match.
Senior Aaron Daul put together a good day, scoring two pins and a decisive 16-7 win in the third place match at 152 pounds.
Kern has made rapid improvement over the past month and that continued on Saturday. He pinned three of his opponents to get third place at 195 pounds.
This Saturday the Tigers will wrestle at home again, this time hosting the WIAA Division 1 regional meet. This is another step up in the competition scale. Menomonie and Hudson are both state-ranked Division 1 teams that lead a major group of talented wrestlers into the tournament. The top four wrestlers in each weight class on Saturday will advance to the sectional meet.