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Spartans' send Baillargeon, Neumann and Hecht to state

Three of the five Somerset wrestlers who competed in front of their home crowd at the 2005 Somerset Division 3 Wrestling Sectional have earned their way to the 2005 state championships.

Senior Andy Hecht and juniors Drew Baillargeon and Justin Neumann will be competing in the 2005 WIAA State Wrestling Championships this Friday and Saturday in Madison. Neumann is making his second trip to the state tournament, while Hecht and Baillargeon will be competing at state for the first time.

Also competing at the sectional for the Spartans was senior Ambrose Martell and junior Steve Vanasse.

Andy Hecht

It's hard to imagine a wrestler who had three matches as different as Hecht's matches were at the sectional.

Hecht opened the sectional by dominating Brandon Baker of Ladysmith, 13-3.

In the semifinals Hecht met up with Max Smith of Shell Lake. Hecht kept pushing and forcing the action in this match, but Smith held a 3-1 lead in the final 15 seconds of the match. Hecht was on full attack, and he was finally able to throw Smith, directly to his back. He got the three back points, which were the difference in his 6-3 win over Smith.

Hecht is a wrestler who thrives on intensity and emotion. The semifinal match left him spent. In the finals he couldn't muster the energy to give Cornell's Jon Erickson a battle, with Erickson winning by technical fall.

Hecht enters his first state tournament as a second seed. He takes a 26-9 record to state, where he will meet Dusty DeLorme, a senior from Bonduel. DeLorme was third in his sectional, bringing a 40-7 record into the state match.

Justin Neumann

There are few wrestlers who performed better than Neumann who didn't come out of Saturday's action as sectional champions.

Neumann rolled past Lucas Hoisington of Cumberland in the opening round, in a match that wasn't nearly as close as the 12-6 score might indicate.

The match between Neumann and Jeremy Doro of Cadott in the 189-pound semifinals was a tactical battle. Doro placed fourth at state last year and was the only wrestler to beat Neumann in the sectional last year.

This year Doro and Neumann battled into overtime, with the score tied 1-1. In the final seconds of the overtime Doro was able to get his arms around Neumann's chest and drive him backwards, getting the winning takedown.

That forced Neumann to work through the wrestlebacks, just like last season. In his first wrestleback, Neumann pinned Jake Zimmerman of Bruce in 26 seconds.

That put Neumann into the third place match, against another strong veteran wrestler, senior John Berlin of Shell Lake, who had 37 wins coming into the match. Neumann got a quick 2-0 lead and when Neumann gets a lead, he's nearly unbeatable. Neumann rode that lead to a 5-2 win over Berlin.

"He's such a good rider, it's so tough to get away from him," said Somerset coach Dennis Potter.

The win over Berlin assured Neumann's place in the state tournament. He then got to wrestle for second place against Cadott senior Jarrod Faber. This was a wild match. Neumann got a quick takedown, but Faber reversed Neumann to his back and Neumann had to fight off a pin for more than a minute.

Neumann was reversed again in the second period and trailed 7-4. But when Neumann got on top in the third period, he was able to turn Faber several times, scoring an 11-7 win that gave him second place in the sectional.

In the state tournament Neumann draws Poynette senior Jordan Vanderwilt. Vanderwilt was third in his sectional and has a 26-5 record. Neumann, who missed much of the season with a shoulder injury, now stands at 19-3.

Drew Baillargeon

Baillargeon will be making his first appearance at the state meet after taking third place in the sectional at 130 pounds.

Baillargeon had a difficult opening draw in the sectional, against Arcadia junior Craig Schrank. Baillargeon is at his best in close, low-scoring matches. That was the case here, with the match tied 2-2 after three periods. Baillargeon went on the attack in the overtime, and was able to get the takedown to beat Schrank 4-2.

That put Baillargeon in the semifinals against Cameron's Joel Messick. Messick ended up as sectional champion and his 42-1 record is the best mark in the Division 3 state bracket. Baillargeon was able to keep this match close early, but Messick pulled away in the third period for an 11-2 win.

That meant Baillargeon would have to work back through the wrestlebacks. First he put away Hurley's Shawn Zani 8-0. In the third place match Baillargeon faced Flambeau senior Justin Barone. Baillargeon and Barone put on a battle, with Baillargeon leading 5-4 for much of the match. Baillargeon managed a five-point reversal late in the match, leading to a 13-5 win that assured him of his spot in the state tournament.

That gave Baillargeon a chance to wrestle for second place, against Boyceville's Aaron Kersten, who had beaten Baillargeon for the regional championship. Potter suggested that Baillargeon went out too aggressively against Kersten, losing 12-1.

In the state meet Baillargeon will open up against Curtis Fiedler, a junior with a 29-5 record. Baillargeon's record currently stands at 31-9. The winner of this match will face Athens senior Casey Conner in the second round. Conner has a 32-4 record.

Ambrose Martell

Martell had no problem in his opening match of the sectional. He pinned Nate Diehl of Park Falls in 1:03, which raised Martell's record to 24-10.

The 215-pound bracket contained several huge physical wrestlers, and in his final two matches Martell was beaten by much larger opponents. Vanasse gave Luck's Rene Vargas a battle in the semifinals, before Vargas finished with a 5-0 win.

In the wrestlebacks Martell faced Stefan Geissler of Cadott. Martell ran out of steam and lost by technical fall to Geissler.

"There were some enormous 215-pounders," Potter said.

Steve Vanasse

On the surface, Vanasse went 0-2 in the sectional meet. The Spartan junior also nearly pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the sectional meet.

In the opening round at 119 pounds, Vanasse drew undefeated Albie McKinney of Luck, who went on to win the sectional championship. Twice during their match, Vanasse threw McKinney to his back. Each time McKinney was able to wriggle out of the hold before Vanasse could get full control, so Vanasse didn't get takedown points either time.

McKinney then took control of the action to win by technical fall.

In his second match, Vanasse was thrown by Hurley's Jeff Tijan and was pinned in the first period.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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