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Injuries hit New Richmond wrestlers hard at Wisconsin Dells tournament

New Richmond’s Dominic Ficociello (top) had an outstanding week, scoring a pin in Thursday’s dual against Somerset and winning all five matches in the tournament at Wisconsin Dells on Saturday. 1 / 2
New Richmond's Kevin Kern nearly pulled off an upset in last Thursday's dual match with Somerset. Kern (top) was able to put Somerset's Max Praschak on his back, but couldn't get the pin call. Praschak came out with a 13-9 win.2 / 2

It was no vacation for the New Richmond wrestlers when they competed at the Duals In The Dells tournament in Wisconsin Dells this weekend.

Several Tigers suffered injuries that knocked them out of the tournament and that could keep them out of the lineup for the foreseeable future.

The Tigers host defending Middle Border Conference champion Ellsworth at 7 p.m. this Thursday, with junior varsity matches starting at 6 p.m. Tiger coach Mark Neumann said the injuries from the weekend could leave several wrestlers on the sidelines. He said three-time state qualifier Shane Blackman is definitely out for Thursday’s clash.

The tournament on Saturday was going well for the Tigers until a wave of injuries wiped out several team members. The Tigers opened the tournament with a 47-15 win over Oshkosh North. That was followed by a 49-27 win over Iowa-Grant. That’s when the injuries began. The Tigers were without several wrestlers in their 48-29 loss to DeForest. The ranks grew thinner in a 48-24 loss to Boyceville. The Tigers finished the day with a 40-33 loss to Benilde-St. Margaret (Minn.).

Neumann said he saw the true character of his team in the match against Benilde. He said a handful of Tigers could have accepted forfeits that would have earned a team victory. Instead, they had the chance to face top quality opponents and that’s the option they chose. He said Derek Dowd and Bryce Younger took on state-ranked wrestlers from Benilde and both nearly pulled off wins, taking leads into the third period. They also gave up the chance for 5-0 days by tangling with Benilde.

One Tiger did go through Saturday’s action with a 5-0 record. That was senior Dominic Ficociello at 170 pounds. Technically, John Keifer also went 5-0 in the tournament. He wrestled three of his matches in the junior varsity portion of the tournament on Friday, then won twice at 152 pounds on Saturday.

Neumann was upbeat about the effort of the Tigers on Saturday and the improvement of the team so far this season. He used Seth Leavens as an example of the team’s progress. Leavens made a big step this year, going from 106 pounds to 126 pounds.

“Seth attacks from his feet,” Neumann said. “He’s improved a ton.”

The Tiger coaches weren’t nearly as upbeat about the team’s performance in last Thursday’s dual match at Somerset. The Tigers came away with a 45-27 win, but they weren’t doing much celebrating afterward.

“Hats off to Somerset, they wrestled much better than we did,” Neumann said.

The pivotal matches were in the middle weights. Somerset won at 106. That was followed by three forfeits before Blackman scored a pin in 12 seconds in the 132-pound class, which put the Tigers ahead 18-12.

Somerset won the next three matches. While all three were expected to be close, the Tiger coaches were clearly looking for more aggressiveness from their wrestlers.

The Tigers won the match by taking five of the final six bouts. Caleb Neumann, Ficociello, Alex Schmidt and Jake Rose scored wins on the mat.

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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