The Somerset wrestling team has improved considerably.
In the Middle Border Conference, the best measure of improvement is facing perennial MBC champion Ellsworth. That's the Spartans' test this Thursday, when they head to Ellsworth for their third MBC match of the season.
The Spartans improved to 2-0 in the MBC and 5-2 overall in dual matches when they won their home opener last Thursday, defeating Prescott 39-18. That was the start of a very good weekend for the Spartans. On Saturday, the Spartans earned their first tournament victory in several years when they won the Spooner Invitational.
The Spooner meet was watered down slightly because several teams pulled out in the days prior to the action. Somerset, Spooner, Shell Lake and Spooner comprised the field. To make the brackets more competitive, there were a number of spots where the coaches combined two brackets to deepen the talent pool.
Somerset wrestlers brought home the two main honors from the tournament. Senior Preston Anez was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler. He went 3-0, pinning a Rice Lake wrestler in the 152-pound finals. Somerset's Jared Grahovac earned the Most Pins Award, pinning four of his five opponents in the 138-pound class.
Also going unbeaten in the tournament for the Spartans were seniors Zeb Rivard and Garret Hecht and sophomore Tyler Hantsbarger.
The Spartans also had some near misses. Roy Hale was ahead 4-3 in the championship match in the 145-pound class before getting thrown. Hantsbarger's best competition in the combined 126/132 pound class was his teammate Nick Kearns, who placed second.
Ty Cavett earned his first three varsity wins for the Spartans on Saturday, wrestling in the 113-pound class.
The progress being made by the Spartans showed in Thursday's dual win against Prescott. The Spartans won seven of the 10 matches that were wrestled. Somerset got on a major roll, building up a 39-6 lead before Prescott won the final two matches of the night.
Rivard got the Spartans started right, getting a major decision in the 285-pound class to start the night. The pivotal match was at 120, where Hantsbarger faced defending MBC champion Ethan Tulip. It was a no-doubter, with Hantsbarger winning 7-1.
"Tyler really shined," said Somerset coach Ali Peterson. "He took what was given and kept at it."
That started a string of wins from Grahovac, Hale, Bushinger, Anez and Hecht. Hale is back in wrestling after four years away. He was trailing Prescott's Cody Atherton 5-2 when Hale locked Atherton in a crossface cradle and pinned him.
Hecht beat one of Prescott's most experienced wrestlers in the 170-pound class. That led into Saturday, where Hecht avenged his only loss of the season to a wrestler from Spooner in the tournament finals.