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Tiger wrestlers take second in MBC meet

With Ellsworth considered a prohibitive favorite for the Middle Border Conference Wrestling Tournament title, the battle was on for second place.

The New Richmond wrestling team took care of that argument, outscoring Amery by 38 points to take second place in the tournament.

New Richmond had six wrestlers advance to the finals and three Tiger seniors earned conference championships. Bradley Gartner earned his second straight MBC title by taking the 135-pound weight class. Jared Kerr and Tommy Volkert were both first-time MBC champions. Kerr won dramatically in the 125-pound finals and Volkert handily won the 215-pound title.

Tigers who were defeated in their championship matches were Jon Keller at 140 pounds, Blake Jacobson at 189 pounds and Joel Neumann at 285 pounds.

Tiger coach Mark Neumann said he felt many people thought Amery would finish ahead of New Richmond in the team results on Saturday. But with nearly every Tiger finishing at or above where they were seeded, they were able to finish well ahead of Amery.

The Tigers' success on Saturday began with their three senior champions. Gartner is now 32-3 for the season. Gartner quickly erased his first two opponents. In the finals he built up a sizeable lead over Ellsworth's Taylor Boettcher in the first period, finishing with a 10-0 win.

Kerr was the second seed in a rock solid 125-pound class. He got a quick pin in his opening match, then faced a strong young opponent in Ellsworth's Roarke Langer. Kerr was able to win 6-2.

That moved Kerr into the finals against Amery's Kyle Larson, who is ranked fourth in the state in Division 2. Kerr led the entire match and finished with a 9-8 win to get his championship.

"I'd say Jared controlled the flow of the match," Coach Neumann said. "Jared worked hard on his own over the summer."

Volkert received a bye to the semifinals. Then he overpowered Somerset sophomore Jeremy Kelly for a first period pin. In the finals Volkert's combination of quickness and strength was too much for Ellsworth's Alex Hoyer. Volkert took the match on a 10-3 decision.

Keller had one of his best days of the season to take seond place at 135 pounds. He advanced with close wins over Prescott's Jessop Keene and Amery's Eduardo Benitez. In the finals Keller gave state-ranked Zac Weyer of Baldwin-Woodville a battle, with Weyer winning 5-4.

"It was huge for him to get to the finals and wrestle a quality match," Neumann said.

Jacobson opened with a bye in the 189-pound bracket. He came up with a big win in the semifinals, beating Ellsworth's Corey Deiss 4-2. In the finals Jacobson got crunched by undefeated Prescott senior Jake Filkins.

At 285 pounds, Neumann pinned his way to the finals. He put away Andrew Ring of Baldwin-Woodville quickly in the opening round. In the second round Neumann was trailing Ellsworth's Nick Oltjen. Neumann then rolled Oltjen for a second period pin.

Neumann and Prescott's John Kariesch looked like to bears pummeling each other. After a scoreless first period, Kariesch took the bottom position for the second. Neumann rode him for most of the period, but escaped in the final 30 seconds. That would be the only point of the match. Neumann pushed the action in the rest of the match, but Kariesch wouldn't give up any openings where Neumann could make any sort of throw or move.

"I thought Joel outworked him in the finals," Coach Neumann said. "He controlled the tie-ups against a bigger, stronger kid."

The Tigers also got a third place finish from Nick Hesselink at 160 pounds.

Charlie Gartner, Jake Rebhan and Cody Chouinard were fourth place finishers.

The Tigers now turn their focus to the WIAA Division 1 Eau Claire North regional, which will be wrestled this Saturday. The top four wrestlers from each weight class advance from the regional to the sectional level.

"I think we've got a chance to get 75 percent of the kids to sectionals," said Tiger assistant coach Kyle Hinrichs.

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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