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New Richmond's Shane Blackman advances to third WIAA state wrestling tournament

New Richmond junior Shane Blackman has qualified for his third straight WIAA state wrestling tournament.

Blackman advanced by dominating the 113-pound class at the Division 1 Marshfield Sectional Tournament on Saturday.

Blackman is the only Tiger to advance to state. Three Tigers took third place in their weight class at the sectional meet, but only two wrestlers per weight class advance to state in Division 1. Derek Dowd, Casey Schuh and Abe Anderson were the Tigers' third place finishers. The Tigers had eight wrestlers competing in the sectional meet.

Blackman (31-3) will wrestle in the 3 p.m. session on Thursday in the state championships at the Kohl Center in Madison. His opening opponent is Kaukauna sophomore Bailey VanHandel (39-10).

Blackman tore through his sectional bracket, pinning all three of his opponents. He opened against Stevens Point sophomore Kolby Konopacky, scoring a pin in 2:40. He drew Wausau West junior Alex Burk in the semifinals, with the pin coming at the 3:45 mark. Blackman earned his first sectional championship by pinning Eau Claire North sophomore Tyler Deacon 18 seconds into the third period. Blackman had also beaten Deacon in the regional championship match.

"Shane was heads and tails above his competition," said Tiger coach Mark Neumann. "I think he's ready for the challenge (at state). He's a good kid who works hard."

Neumann said Blackman has used his experience to become a smarter, more assertive wrestler. He did some of the most aggressive wrestling of his career in controlling the action in his sectional matches.

The three third place finishes stung the Tigers because all three wrestlers performed well and were the slightest margin away from winning matches that would have gotten them to Madison.

Dowd opened the 120-pound bracket with a 3-0 win over Wausau West junior Hunter Kuehl. Dowd faced Wausau East's Nick Diny, who reached state last year, in the semifinals. Dowd trailed 2-1 with 40 seconds left in the match and was able to shoot in to grab one of Diny's legs. Diny was able to fight out of Dowd's grip, getting a takedown. Another late flurry left Dowd with a 6-3 loss.

Dowd bounced back impressively, pounding Hudson senior Nick Nelson 12-0 in the third place match. Diny lost the championship match, so Dowd couldn't get a wrestleback for second place. Chippewa Falls senior Quinn Miracle won the sectional title.

"Derek is right there with those kids," Neumann said, referring to Miracle and Diny. "He's just a whisker away."

Schuh was able to reach the 138-pound sectional championship match, but a loss in the wrestleback denied Schuh a trip to state.

Schuh opened the tournament with a 7-2 win over Wausau West senior Josh Noll. In the semifinals Schuh got a rematch with River Falls senior Nathan Kinneman, whom Schuh defeated 5-3 in the regional title match. This was another wild match, with Schuh winning 7-5 in overtime.

In the finals Schuh faced Wausau East senior Brook Whitehead, who has a 41-5 record. Whitehead won with a pin in 2:51.

That put Schuh in a wrestleback against Marshfield sophomore Mitch Hertel, who reached state last year as a freshman. This was a tight defensive battle, with Hertel winning 3-0.

Anderson continued the Tigers' dominance over Wausau West in the opening round, beating Ben Kostroski 5-3 in the 145-pound quarterfinals. In the semifinals Anderson faced Hudson standout Austin Koski. Anderson was inches away from completing a couple scoring moves, but Koski fought them off to win 6-1.

Anderson wasted no time in the wrestleback, pinning Merrill senior Austin Bell in 43 seconds. Koski was defeated in the championship match, denying Anderson a chance of wrestling back to second place.

Four Tigers were defeated in the opening round of the tournament. Garret Hildebrandt at 106, Dom Ficociello at 170, Kevin Kern at 182 and Jake Rose at 285 all were defeated in the opening round.

Schuh and Anderson were the only seniors among the eight Tigers competing at the sectional meet. Neumann said this was valuable experience for his squad, which he considers a team on the rise.

"We have some other kids who are right there," Neumann said, naming off Seth Leavens, Dylan Dowd, Michael Steel, Caleb Neumann and John Keifer as other young Tigers who could be making their way to sectional tournaments in the future.