Panthers advance three wrestlers to state tournamentThe 2013 senior class is one of the most successful in St. Croix Central history, so it’s fitting that three of this year’s Panther seniors are ending their high school wrestling careers at the WIAA State Wrestling Championships.
The 2013 senior class is one of the most successful in St. Croix Central history, so it’s fitting that three of this year’s Panther seniors are ending their high school wrestling careers at the WIAA State Wrestling Championships.
Carl Moll, Cody Nyhagen and Kyle Aaby will be wrestling for the Panthers at this year’s state tournament. Moll advances as the 170-pound champion at the Somerset Division 2 Sectional Tournament held on Saturday. Nyhagen placed second at 160 pounds and Aaby placed second at 182 pounds at the sectional meet.
This will be Nyhagen’s third trip to the state tournament. Aaby will be making his second trip to state and this will be Moll’s first time in the state tournament.
Moll may have been the most successful Panther wrestler to never reach state until he rectified that situation on Saturday. Moll opened the sectional with a decisive win over Stanley-Boyd’s Lyle Swartz, pinning Swartz in 1:35.
The semifinal winner would lock in a place in the state tournament field. Moll and Somerset’s Max Praschak hooked up in a dandy. The match was tied 2-2 at the end of regulation. In the overtime Moll was able to overpower Praschak to get the winning takedown.
Moll didn’t do a lot of celebrating when he secured his trip to state. Central coach Brad Holzer said that was because Moll still had more he wanted to accomplish. He wanted to win the sectional title so he could get an opening round bye at state.
In the finals Moll faced Alex Richey of Luck-Frederic-Grantsburg, who Moll had already defeated this season. Moll took charge immediately, taking Richey down and releasing him several times to build a safe lead. Moll finished with an 11-7 win and the sought-after state bye.
Moll’s path to a state title is not easy. The other three sectional champions are all undefeated, including defending state champion Jacob Morrissey of Oconto Falls. Moll’s will wrestle his first match in the 11:15 a.m. session on Friday, facing the winner of Thursday’s opening match between Clay Fitzpatrick of Viroqua and Aaron Field of Kiel.
Holzer said this is where the opening bye is important, because Moll will be able to scout his first opponent at state, where they will not have seen him wrestle.
Nyhagen was part of the most highly anticipated sectional field at 160 pounds. The challenges started with his opening match, where Nyhagen and Somerset’s Gabe Flandrick clashed. Both were state placewinners last year. Nyhagen was able to get an early lead and he made it last, holding on for a 4-3 win over Flandrick.
Nyhagen’s opening round win gave the Panthers a huge jolt of momentum. They won four of their next five matches in the opening round.
“After that, every kid went out with a head of steam. Nobody held anything back in the first round,” Holzer said.
In the semifinals, Nyhagen faced Neillsville-Granton’s Mitchell Pohlman, who came into the match with 39 wins this season. Pohlman didn’t have a chance. Nyhagen moved quickly and fluidly to score a 9-1 win.
“That was probably one of the best matches Cody has wrestled this season,” Holzer said. “He put a lot of stuff together and rode really strong.”
Nyhagen moved into the championship match against Ellsworth’s Gable Frandsen. Frandsen’s lack of action frustrated Nyhagen. Nyhagen couldn’t escape from the down position and Frandsen was able to win 3-0.
Nyhagen’s opening opponent in the evening session on Thursday will be Mitchell Lambrecht of Sheboygan Falls, who has a 34-10 record. The winner of that match faces Jaden Boivin (40-1) of Marinette in Friday’s quarterfinals.
Aaby rolled through his first two matches of the sectional, pinning both of his opponents, though he was also fighting a bug all day. In the finals Aaby faced undefeated Joe Rademacher of St. Croix Falls. The first period was scoreless until the final seconds, when Rademacher got a takedown at the edge of the mat. Aaby was able to get an escape in the second period, but was left in a position to gamble in the third period. He gave up a five-point move and lost 7-1.
Aaby will wrestle in the Thursday night session at state, opening against West Salem-Bangor senior Tyler Shrake, who has a 36-11 record. The winner of that match will face Tomahawk’s Austin Belile, who has a 46-1 record.
The Panthers had four other wrestlers competing in the sectional and another who was scheduled to wrestle but was involved in a car accident the morning of the meet.
Seniors Delfino Carrasco and Austin Edison both won their opening match at the sectional and were close to advancing to state. Edison scored a pin in the opening round at 285 pounds. He was competitive with a much larger Cole LaLiberty of Chetek-Prairie Farm in the semifinals, but LaLiberty was able to win 7-4. Edison was then pinned in the wrestleback, ending his season with a 35-8 record.
“He should be proud of everything he’s accomplished this season,” Holzer said. “He and Delfino, they made themselves into good high school wrestlers.”
Carrasco nearly pulled off one of the bigger surprises of the sectional. He opened the tournament by beating Amery’s Eli Newton 6-5. In the semifinals Carrasco couldn’t match the power of Hayward’s Austin Egge, losing 11-1. Carrasco wrestled another smart match to edge Melrose-Mindoro’s Tyler Dobbs 7-5 in the opening wrestleback. In the third place match Carrasco’s charge was finally stopped, getting pinned by Nate Weaver of Ashland at 5:57.
Ryan Gulich and Josh VanBeek were defeated in their opening matches at the sectional meet and didn’t get wrestlebacks.
Junior Brian Gibb was scheduled to wrestle at 152 pounds, but his car slid into the ditch on the way to school Saturday. His head hit the steering wheel hard and the coaches and his parents made the precautionary decision to hold him out of the tournament.