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Six Spartans will get to compete in front of home sectional crowd

The Somerset wrestling team accomplished half of its goals at the Division 2 Osceola regional meet last Saturday.

The Spartans wanted to get a large group of individuals through the regional so they could compete in front of their home crowd at this Saturday's Somerset WIAA Division 2 Sectional Tournament. The Spartans succeeded in that goal, getting six wrestlers through to this Saturday's sectional meet.

The second goal for the Spartans was to win the regional championship. The Spartans weren't able to reach that goal, finishing in third place among the six teams in the regional meet.

Advancing to the sectional for the Spartans are regional champions Tony Martin and Darrin Emmeck and regional second place finishers Elliot Bell, Ethan Bell, Alex Praschak and Isaac Neumann.

Martin and Emmeck rolled to their regional championships with little trouble. Martin pinned his opponent in 30 seconds in the semifinals, then pinned Amery's Bryndon Schock in 2:57 in the 171-pound championship match.

"It was nice he didn't have to spend a whole lot of time on the mat," said Spartan coach Mike Kappers, because Martin had been sick the days before the meet.

Emmeck had similar success. He pinned his semifinal opponent in 14 seconds. In the finals Emmeck pinned T.J. Lund of Baldwin-Woodville in 2:46.

The Spartans suffered some tough losses in the semifinals. Elliot Bell and Amery's Chad Bartchenfeld were scoreless through the first two periods of the 103-pound championship match. Bell was called for a stalling point in the third period, then released Bartchenfeld late in the period in hopes that he could get a takedown to tie the score. Instead, Bartchenfeld was called for a stalling point, but was able to end with a 2-1 win over Bell.

Bell won a 7-0 decision over Nick Campbell of St. Croix Falls in the 103-pound semifinals.

In the 112-pound finals, Ethan Bell faced a tough opponent in Justin Rikkola of St. Croix Falls. The match was close early. Just as it appeared that Bell was ready to complete a move and score points against Rikkola, Rikkola became ill on the mat, forcing the match to be stopped for several minutes. Rikkola then was able to take charge and pinned Bell in the final seconds of the match.

Bell had pinned St. Croix Central's Andrew Lathe to reach the 112-pound finals.

Praschak was defeated by St. Croix Central's Casey Perry in the 140-pound finals. Praschak fell behind early in this match, then battled back, tying the score at 9-9 in the final minute. As Praschak pushed the action to try to go ahead, he was thrown to his back in a five-point move that allowed Perry to score a 14-9 win.

Praschak had beaten Baldwin-Woodville's Dan Peterson by a 7-2 score to reach the finals.

Neumann looked good in the semifinals at 145 pounds, pinning Jesse Wilson of St. Croix Falls. In the finals, Neumann was overmatched against Amery's Blake Lundgren and lost on a technical fall. Neumann then faced a challenge for second place from Matt Bonte of Baldwin-Woodville. Neumann was able to answer the challenge, scoring a 10-6 win to advance to the sectional.

Also having a chance to reach the sectional was freshman Trevor Bushinger at 135 pounds. Bushinger lost a close match in the semifinals, then came back to win the third place match. That earned him a shot at second place, but he was defeated by Amery's Jared Nelson in that match.

The Spartans success in this Saturday's sectional meet depends largely on how they perform in their opening match. Both of the Bell twins have a good chance of advancing if they can get past their opening match. Martin and Praschak also have tough opening draws. Emmeck has the most favorable opening draw of any of the Spartans, but his weight class has several strong opponents lurking in the later rounds.

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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