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St. Croix Central's Brian Gibb takes second at Northern Badger wrestling

St. Croix Central’s Connor Burton earned a win in this wrestleback match during Friday’s action at the Northern Badger Invitational.

Brian Gibb has become the leader of the St. Croix Central wrestling team.

He’s doing the job in the wrestling room and on the mat. Gibb took second place in a talent-heavy 182-pound class to lead the Panthers at the 2013 Northern Badger Invitational at River Falls High School last Friday and Saturday.

Gibb was one of four state-ranked wrestlers who filled the top spots in the tournament’s 182-pound class. In the semifinals, Gibb defeated Cumberland’s Jaylen Lansin 8-1. Lansin was the top seed and was undefeated entering the tournament after placing fifth at state last year.

In the finals Gibb faced Sebastian Larson of River Falls. Larson is 23-0 and has been wrestling incredibly this season. That continued here, with Larson winning 11-4.

Panther coach Brad Holzer said Gibb’s reaching the finals is another step in his maturation process. Gibb came away from the tournament looking to strengthen his ability to shoot in for takedowns.

“It’s nice to see him come of age,” Holzer said, who said Gibb’s leadership shows as he takes charge of the team during and after practices.

Gibb was one of four Panthers who were placewinners in the tournament. The Panthers placed eighth in Division 2 in the tournament’s standings. Ryan Gulich and Decker Grass both were seventh place finishers and Jake Nyhagen took ninth place.

Gulich had the misfortune of lining up against third seed Isaac Weix of Chequamegon in the second round of the 145-pound bracket. Gulich bounced back with three more wins before meeting Weix again in the consolation semifinals. Gulich was better prepared and gave Weix a good battle before losing 5-1. Weix moved onto the seventh place match, where he recorded his fifth win of the tournament. It came on a gutty 1-0 win over Clear Lake’s Mitch Paulson.

Grass went 3-2 in the 220-pound class to take seventh place. He pinned Melrose-Mindoro’s Derek Haines in the seventh place match.

“I foresee him getting better and better every day,” Holzer said. “Being at 220 is a great place for him.”

Nyhagen opened with a win, then was defeated twice in the middle rounds. He finished with two wins to get ninth place. He pinned Cameron’s Wyatt Wade in 27 seconds in the ninth place match at 113 pounds.

There were other highlights from the Panthers who didn’t place. Drew Malecek scored two wins at 120 pounds and Connor Burton, Cole Refsnider and Jake Conley each won once.

The Panther coaches gave the team several days off, heading back to practice this Thursday. Because the team is still young, the coaches plan to treat the start of January like a new start to the season. Holzer said this will be done because the Panthers haven’t been doing many of the fundamentals well, so this is a chance for the team to clean up their fundamental skills. The Panthers don’t compete again until Thursday, Jan. 9.

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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