New Richmond wrestlers advance eight through tumultuous regional meetEight members of the New Richmond wrestling team advanced out of the first Division 1 wrestling regional tournament hosted by the Tigers on Saturday.
Eight members of the New Richmond wrestling team advanced out of the first Division 1 wrestling regional tournament hosted by the Tigers on Saturday.
While the Tigers moved more than half their lineup into this Saturday’s Division 1 sectional meet in Marshfield, the regional meet was also an emotion-packed day for the wrestlers.
Leading the sectional qualifiers are senior Casey Schuh and junior Shane Blackman, who were both regional champions. Blackman won his first regional title at 113 pounds and Schuh took the top spot at 138 pounds.
The Tigers were one of the best teams in the regional meet in the lighter weights. Sophomores Garret Hildebrandt and Derek Dowd were both second place finishers, Hildebrandt at 106 pounds and Dowd at 120 pounds.
Placing third for the Tigers at the regional were senior Abe Anderson at 145 pounds and junior Dom Ficociello at 170 pounds. Moving to the sectional as fourth place finishers were sophomore Kevin Kern at 182 pounds and junior Jake Rose at 285 pounds.
Blackman was one of the clear-cut top wrestlers in Saturday’s regional, raising his record to 28-3. He pinned his semifinal opponent from Menomonie in 30 seconds. In the finals he was in complete control, scoring a 10-0 win over Eau Claire North’s Tyler Deacon, who has a 30-12 record.
Tiger coach Mark Neumann said this year’s tournament trail represents a new step for Blackman. In each of the past two years, there was a top quality wrestler waiting for him at the sectional. Neumann said that this year, Blackman is the “clear cut number one kid” in the 113-pound sectional bracket.
Blackman is scheduled to open the sectional meet against Stevens Point junior Kolby Konopacky, who has an 11-25 record. The top two wrestlers in each Division 1 sectional weight class will qualify for state.
Schuh’s championship was a gratifying moment for the entire Tiger team. Schuh missed much of the season due to a broken hand. He entered the regional with a 6-5 record, but came out a champion.
Schuh’s first match resulted in an 8-3 win over Houston Olson of Menomonie. In the semifinals Schuh faced state-ranked Mackinzie Nutzmann of Chippewa Falls. Schuh trailed by three points with 15 seconds left when he caught Nutzmann in a five-point headlock. Nutzmann kept scrambling and got a reversal with two seconds left, sending the match into overtime. Neither wrestler could score in the first overtime. Schuh chose the down position for the first 30-second double-overtime period and was able to score an escape. Nutzmann took the down position for the final 30 seconds and Schuh was able to ride him out to get the win.
Schuh had another wild finish in the 138-pound finals against Nathan Kinneman of River Falls. Schuh took a 3-1 lead into the third period, but Kinneman tied the match with a takedown. Schuh got ahold of one of Kinneman’s legs and was able to lift it, so Schuh could duck under Kinneman and get the winning reversal with 15 seconds left.
Schuh opens the sectional meet against Wausau West senior Josh Noll, who has a 29-13 record. Noll was the fourth place finisher in the Merrill regional meet.
Hildebrandt scored three pin victories to take second place in the regional. He opened with a win, but lost in the semifinals to regional winner Justin Peterson of Eau Claire North. Hildebrandt stayed on the offensive, scoring pins in two wrestleback matches to climb back to second place.
“Garret’s really been coming on strong the last three or four weeks,” said Coach Neumann. “He’ll have to wrestle a little better, but he’s got a legitimate opportunity (to get to state).”
Hildebrandt (16-9) will open the sectional meet against Rhinelander junior Dustin Stone, who has a 31-8 record.
Dowd’s only loss on Saturday came against Chippewa Falls standout Quinn Miracle, who placed third at state last year. Dowd was a decisive winner in his other two matches, raising his record to 28-10 with a pair of pins.
Dowd opens the sectional meet against Wausau West junior Hunter Kuehl, who has an 11-4 record. Dowd would have to beat either Miracle or Wausau East’s Nick Diny (39-3) to get to state, but Neumann said Dowd is fully capable of wrestling at that level.
“I think Derek’s tough,” Neumann said. “He’s got all the tools, all the experience, if he’ll just open up his offense a little bit.”
Ficociello followed his Middle Border Conference championship with another big effort in the regional. Ficociello (15-11) was involved in four close matches in the regional. He opened with a pin, but lost to regional champion Sebastian Larson of River Falls in the semifinals. Ficociello came back to win the third place wrestleback by a 6-2 score, but he was topped in the second place wrestleback 3-1.
Ficociello has a challenging draw at the sectional meet, facing Wausau West’s Cody Grunenwald in the opening round. Grunenwald carries a 37-9 record.
Much of the angst for the Tigers in the regional involved Anderson, who was unable to make weight to compete in the 132-pound class. This caused a late reshuffling of the Tiger lineup. Anderson moved up to 145 pounds, with Aaron Daul moving from 145 to 152 and Austin Anderson from 152 to 160.
Abe Anderson was able to get third at 145, winning two of his three matches in the regional. He was defeated in the semifinals by Menomonie’s Mason Stokke. Anderson’s opening draw in the sectional is Ben Kostroski, a junior from Wausau West.
Kern came back from an opening round loss at the regional to qualify for sectionals. He had to win three straight matches to get through the regional. He stayed on the attack, winning the fourth place wrestleback match 19-10. Kern now has a 17-15 record.
“I’m super proud of Kevin, that’s a huge accomplishment,” Neumann said of Kern’s three wins to close the tournament.
Kern has a challenge waiting at sectionals, drawing Merrill junior Ben Hintze, who has a 38-6 record.
Rose split his two matches in the regional meet. He lost in the opening round. He had to win a fourth place wrestleback to qualify for sectionals, pinning heavyweight Triston Lee in 53 seconds. Rose (10-8) will face Wausau West senior Ryan Fay (35-9) at the sectional meet.
The Tigers were able to place third in the team standings at the regional, behind Big Rivers Conference powers Menomonie and Hudson.