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Somerset wrestlers feel Ellsworth's wrath

Somerset sophomore Tyler Lueck (right) tangles with Ellsworth's Henry Holdorf during last Thursday's dual match.

Finding the bright side of a 69-9 loss would be a challenge, but Somerset wrestling Coach Mitch Flandrick was able to find one after the Spartans suffered the massive defeat at the hands of Ellsworth last Thursday.

"At least it gets forgotten a few weeks down the line," Flandrick said, saying the loss won't throw off the team's momentum like it would later in the season.

Ellsworth has been winning Middle Border Conference titles for decades and the Panthers are just as strong this year.

The Spartans were able to score two wins in the match, with seniors Bobby LeRoy and Gabe Flandrick notching those victories. LeRoy had to make a miraculous comeback to beat Ellsworth's Max Peterson in the 152-pound class. LeRoy was thrown for five points in the first minute of the match. Trailing 7-4, he got a takedown with 13 seconds left, then released Peterson. LeRoy shot in again, putting Peterson directly to his back to score the pin with :03 left on the clock.

Flandrick pulled away in the third period for an 8-1 win over Logan Kemmerer, a state qualifier last season.

The Spartans have 31 boys out for wrestling this season, but 22 of them were in football. Those in football had less than two full weeks of practice before they competed on Thursday.

One-third of the wrestlers are new to the sport. That led the Spartan coaches to divide the practice, with the more experienced wrestlers working together and the newer wrestlers in another group.

Coach Flandrick said he thinks 31 wrestlers is the largest number ever in the Spartan program.

On Saturday the Spartans competed in the annual Jon Timm Invitational Tournament in Glenwood City. The Spartans lost four of their five dual matches during the meet, with their only win coming against Spooner.

Coach Flandrick said the team didn't wrestle up to its talent level in its first three matches against Neillsville, Triton and Glenwood City. He said the team looked much sharper in its matches against Spooner and Amery at the end of the day.

Getting the win against Spooner was a definite highlight, because it took key efforts from some of the less experienced wrestlers to get the win. The Spartans trailed heading into the final three matches, but heavyweight Zane Von Holtum was able to score a win, tying the match at 30-30. First-year wrestler Lewey Raleigh, who weighs 82 pounds, put up a good battle in the 106-pound bout, losing 5-4. That left the 113-pound match as the deciding bout. Somerset junior Rhys Linke earned his first varsity win by getting a pin at the 2:54 mark, earning the team victory for the Spartans.

The individual match of the tournament was likely the showdown between LeRoy and Glenwood City's Adam Holmquist. LeRoy placed fifth at state last year and Holmquist took third. Holmquist was able to break open a close match in the third period to win 8-2. This means LeRoy will be going for his 100th career win in Somerset's dual match this Thursday.

Flandrick was the only Spartan who went 5-0 in the Glenwood City tournament. He received a special honor for his career success there. Flandrick was honored for going 20-0 through his four years in the Jon Timm Tournament.