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New Richmond wrestlers send five to Saturday's Division 1 sectional meet

New Richmond wrestlers who qualified for sectionals include (l-r) Dylan Wachter, Bryce Younger, Brandon Dennis, Jake LaVenture and Nathan Fehlen.

Despite being in the crosshairs of an illness bug that ran through New Richmond High School last week, the Tiger wrestling team was able to advance five wrestlers through Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 regional wrestling tournament in Chippewa Falls.

Senior Bryce Younger, juniors Dylan Wachter and Nathan Fehlen, sophomore Jake LaVenture and freshman Brandon Dennis advanced, putting them into this Saturday’s Division 1 sectional tournament at River Falls.

Dennis and Wachter were second place finishers at the regional meet. Younger and Fehlen placed third in their weight class and LaVenture was a fourth place finisher. The top four wrestlers in each class advance to sectionals. Only the top two wrestlers in Division 1 advance from the sectional meet to the state tournament.

Dennis was the second place finisher in the 113-pound class on Saturday. His only loss came in the finals on a 6-1 decision to Carter Duerkop of Eau Claire North. Dennis (18-10) has wrestled extremely well since moving down from 120 pounds a few weeks ago. His opening draw at the sectional meet will be Wausau East junior Ben Diny, who has a 25-10 record.

Wachter was of the bright spots for the Tigers on Saturday. In the semifinals he decisioned Eau Claire North’s Dawson Eilts, who had pinned Wachter earlier this season, by a 17-9 score. Wachter was pinned in the finals by Hudson standout Joe Anderson. Wachter then faced Menomonie’s Joe Boyette in the match for second place. Boyette was leading in the third period, but Wachter was able to reverse and stick Boyette with 15 seconds left in the match.

Wachter (22-14) will face Wausau West senior Alex Hein (16-8) in the opening round of the 152-pound bracket at the sectional meet.

Younger is trying to earn a return trip to the state meet. He faces a tough road after losing twice in the regional. In the finals, Younger and Menomonie freshman standout Sam Skillings waged a major battle, with Skillings (31-2) winning 9-6. Younger (31-4) then faced Superior’s Brandon McClure. The match ended quickly, in a disputed defensive pin call, giving McClure the win.

Younger draws Stevens Point sophomore Dylan Trigg (18-11) in his opening draw. If Younger wins that match, he’d like face Skillings again.

“We’re looking forward to a possible rematch,” New Richmond coach Jeff Swanson commented.

Fehlen opened the tournament with a 16-second pin in the quarterfinals, but he was beaten by Chippewa Falls senior Riley Wyandt in the semifinals, 5-3. Fehlen came back to win a 9-0 decision over Cody Cicha of Hudson to capture third place. Fehlen (26-11) has a tough opening draw at the sectional, against Marshfield’s Bentley Schwanebeck-Ost (30-6).

LaVenture had four matches on Saturday and none of them lasted two minutes. He opened with a 42-second pin in the quarterfinals, but he suffered first period pins in each of his next two matches. Needing a win to lock up a place at the sectional, LaVenture pinned Eau Claire Memorial’s Jakob Emerson in one minute in the fourth place match.

As a fourth place finisher, LaVenture draws the 182-pound champion from the other regional. That would be Rhinelander standout Alex Kurtz (33-5).

This was a meet of careers ending and promising efforts for other Tigers. Seniors Brett Jensen, Dayton Dodge and Roman Ficociello wrestled their final matches on Saturday. Young Tigers Joe Powers, Matt Harle and Christian Moeller combined for four wins, showing the progress they’ve made through the season.

The Tigers were ravaged by illness last week. They cancelled a scrimmage because so few wrestlers were available. Swanson said only three Tigers didn’t miss at least one practice due to illness last week.

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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