St. Croix Central wrestlers send three to sectionals
For a team as young as the St. Croix Central wrestling squad, advancing three wrestlers to the sectional level amounts to a darn good result from the WIAA regional tournament.
The Panthers hosted the WIAA Division 2 regional tournament on Saturday, Feb. 10. They were able to advance junior Ryan Larson, along with senior Frank Holter and freshman Tadan Holzer as second place finishers in the regional meet. The Panthers placed fifth among the six teams in the team finish at Saturday's meet.
Larson (14-2) has been through the tournament routine before, advancing to the WIAA state championships last year as a sophomore at 195 pounds. Larson ripped through the competition on Saturday. In the semifinals he pinned Amery's Oscar Brickel in the first period. That put him in the finals against Luck-Frederic-Grantsburg's Dominic Caroon. Larson not only pinned Caroon 23 seconds into the second period, he did it with such force that he broke Caroon's collarbone.
"Ryan hit a double almost like the kid had a football and Ryan tackled him. It was a perfect double," said St. Croix Central coach Brad Holzer.
Larson will face a talented bracket in the 195-pound sectional competition. His opening match is against Ellsworth sophomore Logan Peterson. If Larson wins that match, he'd likely face Neillsville's Lucas Ingold in the semifinals. And among those in the other side of the bracket is Prescott's Ty Sanford, who was a fourth place finisher at the state meet at 195 pounds last year.
Holter has one of the tougher imaginable assignments in the sectional pairings. He opens against 138-pound Ellsworth's Sam Stuhl, the defending Division 2 state champion at 132 pounds. Stuhl has lost once in the past two seasons.
Holter (19-12) gets to sectionals after missing the chance last year due to injury. In this year's regional, he pinned Luck-Frederic-Grantsburg's Landyn Johnson in the semifinals. Holter put up a good battle before getting pinned in the regional finals by Somerset's Jared Grahovac.
Holzer (21-18) did his best wrestling of the season to take second place in the 126-pound bracket on Saturday. In the semifinals, Holzer faced Osceola's Andrew Montpetit, who soundly beat Holzer at the Middle Border Conference meet the previous week. This time, Holzer ruled from the start, getting his pin with 12 seconds left in the opening period.
In the finals against Somerset's Nick Kearns, Holzer got the initial takedown. While Holzer stayed aggressive, Kearns was able to win 15-5.
Holzer also has a highly difficult draw at the sectional meet. His opening opponent is Ashland senior Mack George, who has a 33-3 record.
Coach Holzer said many of the younger Panthers performed well on Saturday. He used sophomore Eric Collins as an example. Collins took third place at 120 pounds Saturday, beating an Amery opponent who'd beaten him the previous week to earn third place.