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Martin's meteoric rise leads to state meet

The meteoric improvement of Somerset's Tony Martin has taken him all the way to the WIAA State Wrestling Championships.

The Spartan senior advanced to the state tournament by taking third place in the 171-pound bracket at the Somerset Division Wrestling Sectional Tournament on Saturday.

Martin, who wrestled only a few high school matches in his career before this season, now stands at 25-7 in the 2007-08 season.

And because Martin was beaten in the opening round of sectionals, he had to battle back through the consolation bracket to earn his place at state.

The Spartan coaches knew that Martin had a tough opening draw in Medford's Donny Storck, who has a 41-8 record. Their opening match was an immense battle, with Storck leading 3-2 late in the match. Martin tried to get in for a takedown, but Storck countered and threw Martin to his back for a five-point move as the time ran out.

When Storck won his semifinal match, it opened up Martin's path through the consolation bracket. First Martin faced Durand's Mitchell Christenson. He controlled the match before getting a pin at the 5:13 mark.

That moved Martin into the third place match against Bryndon Schock of Amery, an opponent Martin has beaten twice this season. Martin was instructed to wrestle patiently and not get caught in any mistakes. He again stayed in control and was able to pin Schock in the third period.

Moments before getting the pin, Martin slammed his elbow into the mat while the wrestlers were rolling out of bounds. The elbow was bruised severely, but the coaches are hoping it will be healed enough so it doesn't hamper him at the state tournament.

Martin has a tough opening draw at state, Waupaca senior Dustin Stichman, who has a 40-3 record.

"If there's a kid who can find a way to win, it's Tony," said Somerset coach Mike Kappers. "If you tell him he can't do something, he'll prove you wrong."

The Spartans had several wrestlers come close to reaching state, led by the Bell twins. Elliot Bell at 103 and Ethan Bell at 112 both reached the third place match, but couldn't get wins in their chance to get to state.

Elliot Bell lost a gut-wrenching opening match to Sam Huppert of Ellsworth, 2-1. In the consolation round Bell had to face Jordan Poirier of Bloomer, who entered the tournament with a 39-1 record. Bell fell behind 9-1, then took control. He got a takedown, then turned Poirier several times to earn an 11-9 win.

In the third place match, Elliot faced Mike Peterson of Mondovi. Bell led for much of the match, but Peterson was able to turn him for a five-point move late in the third period to win 7-5.

Ethan Bell opened the tournament with a 3-0 win over Kyle Wilson of Neillsville. Bell then was beaten in the semifinals by Jordan Riebe of Barron. Bell needed a wrestleback win, which he got over Ethan Hutter of Durand by a 10-7 score. That put Ethan in the third place match against DJ Yarwood of Ellsworth. Yarwood has been a tough opponent for Bell because his upper body strength prevents Bell from using the cradle hold, his most effective move. Yarwood was able to score a 12-1 win.

The Bell twins each won 24 matches for the Spartans in their senior season.

This ends an era in the Somerset wrestling program. For most of the past 15 years there has been at least one Bell in the Spartan lineup. Ethan and Elliot followed their older brothers Jake, Cody and Austin through the program. Their dad, Tom, also was a Spartan wrestler.

Spartan junior Darrin Emmeck was able to score one win in the 215-pound bracket at the sectional. He opened against Aaron Radcliffe of GET and scored an 11-2 win.

Emmeck then ran into two larger opponents and saw his season grind to a halt. He lost decisions to Randy Ploeckelman of Abbotsford-Colby and Cully Butterfield of Spooner.

Emmeck finishes his junior season with a 27-8 record.

Junior Alex Praschak and freshman Isaac Neumann were beaten in their opening matches at the sectional and didn't get a wrestleback. Praschak lost to Steve Stark of West Salem-Bangor by a 12-1 score at 140 pounds. Neumann was ahead of Collin Naughton of Neillsville before being pinned in the third period of his 145-pound match.

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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