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New Richmond wrestlers compete against top Minnesota programs

New Richmond junior Dylan Dowd (top) was one of four Tigers who placed second in their weight class at the Eden Prairie Invitational on Saturday.

You don’t find competition much tougher than that faced by the New Richmond wrestling team when it competed in the Eden Prairie (Minn.) Invitational on Saturday.

The tournament was packed with six ranked Minnesota teams and the field included numerous highly-ranked individuals. The Tigers were able to place fourth among the 10 teams in the tournament. Among the individuals, the Tigers had four second place finishers and one third place finisher.

One of the showcase matches of the tournament was the 126-pound finals. New Richmond senior Shane Blackman moved down from 132 pounds to 126 in the hopes of facing St. Michael-Albertville’s Tommy Thorn. Thorn is undefeated and ranked nationally. He has already signed to wrestle for the University of Minnesota Gophers.

Blackman opened the tournament with two pins, getting him into the finals against Thorn. Thorn scored a 16-1 technical fall over Blackman, but Blackman was able to carry the match to the third period.

“Shane battled. He had several decent shots,” said Tiger coach Mark Neumann. “It was a good experience.”

Also finishing second in their classes were Seth Leavens, Derek Dowd and Jake Rose.  Leavens knocked off the second seed in the semifinals, 5-4.  Leavens met the top seed, Jason Meyer of Sibley East, in the finals.  Leavens was defeated 11-1 but his performance was an extension of his recent success.

“Seth is a real go-getter and he’s coming into his own,” Neumann said. “Hopefully, he’s seeing he’s able to compete with top flight competition.”

Dowd was the third straight Tiger to reach the finals. Dowd, now 24-5, pulled out a close 4-3 win in the semifinals. He was ahead in the finals but got tipped for back points, losing 8-7 in the 138-pound title match.

Rose has been putting up tough efforts against some top competition. Rose advanced to the 285-pound finals with a pin in the semifinals. In the finals he lost to a top wrestler from Anoka. Each of Rose’s three most recent losses were by 4-2 scores.

“If he can learn to score from his feet, he’ll surprise some people toward the end of the year,” Neumann predicted.

Another Tiger who continues to show rapid improvement is John Keifer, who took third at 152 pounds on Saturday. Keifer lost his opening match on Saturday 1-0. He bounced  back with wins in three close decisions. Coach Neumann said the more Keifer wrestles, the more his confidence grows, which is resulting in him beating stronger opponents.

Senior Dominic Ficociello was the only Tiger fourth place finisher. He went 2-2 on the day, with both losses coming on close decisions.

Placing sixth for the Tigers were Bryce Younger and Kevin Kern.

Last Thursday the Tigers won a Middle Border Conference dual at Osceola, 52-21. The Tigers got wins from Leavens, Keifer, Caleb Neumann, Ficociello, Kern and Younger.

Matches with Younger and Rose were rematches from the New Richmond Invitational and both were close again. Younger scored his second straight win over state-ranked Mitch Hustad 6-4. Rose suffered his second straight loss to Thor Reimer 4-2.

The Tigers have another busy day planned this Thursday. Wrestling starts at 5:15 p.m. with the Tigers and Baldwin-Woodville youth wrestlers squaring off. JV matches will start at 6:15 p.m. with the varsity slated to begin at 7 p.m. This will also be Senior Night and Parents Night for the Tigers. The match will be followed by the Tigers’ annual poster autograph session. Thursday's wrestling match was postponed due to the weather and has been shifted to Monday, Jan. 27.

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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