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Four St. Croix Central wrestlers place at 2016 Northern Badger Invitational

Anthony Grasafe (left) was one of the young Central wrestlers who got to compete at the Northern Badger tournament for the first time in their careers last Thursday.

Four of the eight St. Croix Central wrestlers who competed at the 2016 Northern Badger Wrestling Invitational came away as placewinners.

Ryan Larson, Hunter Schmidt, Jake Nyhagen and Frank Holter were placewinners in the tournament held last Thursday and Friday at River Falls High School.

This was the first year that a junior varsity portion of the tournament was held, with that action happening last Wednesday. The Central coaches elected to have several of their younger wrestlers compete in this tournament and each of them came away with at least one win. Central’s Nathan Berends was the JV tournament champion at 220 pounds.

Larson was Central’s top finisher, taking third place in the 182-pound bracket. His only loss came against Boyceville’s unbeaten James Palmer in the semifinals. Larson came back to beat Osceola’s Brett Carlson 7-5 in the third place.

Central coach Brad Holzer said he saw several good things from Larson. He wrestled with the physicality that made him a success last season and Holzer was impressed with how Larson moved to get free from the bottom position.

Schmidt is in his second year of wrestling, but was still able to make the semifinals in the 285-pound weight class. He made the semis by pinning his first two opponents. He lost 4-0 in the semifinals to Neillsville’s Nick Reuth and was pinned in the third place match by Cornell’s Takoda Lee.

“Hunter is a work in progress,” Holzer said. Holzer said the coaches are working with Schmidt to use his strength and body mass more to his advantage.

Central senior Jake Nyhagen went 5-1 in the tournament to finish in fifth place in the 120-pound bracket. His record is now 11-3 for the season. Among Nyhagen’s wins was a 3-0 decision of Bayfield’s Zach Anglin, the top seed in the 120-pound bracket.

“Jake got back to his old ways. He was very offensive,” Holzer said in explaining Nyhagen’s success in the tournament. “Hopefully, that’s a preview of what’s to come the rest of the year.”

Holter went 4-2 in his first action of the season since being injured in the season opener against New Richmond. He was able to place ninth in the 132-pound class. Holzer said Holter put in an incredible amount of work over the summer to improve his wrestling skills.

“It really shows in how he’s wrestling. He’s right there with some of the best kids,” Holzer said.

The Panthers have a busy week ahead. They’ll wrestle a Middle Border Conference dual at Amery on Thursday. On Saturday the varsity wrestlers will head to the Merrill Scramble while the JV wrestlers will compete at the coaches assocation JV tournament at Eau Claire.

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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