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St. Croix Central wrestlers end their careers on state awards podium

St. Croix Central senior Cody Nyhagen (right) works toward a takedown in the fifth place match in the Division 2 160-pound bracket at the WIAA State Individual Wrestling Championships.1 / 2
St. Croix Central's Kyle Aaby (left) tries to escape the grasp of Joe Rademacher of St. Croix Falls in a wrestleback match in the 182-pound bracket of the Division 2 state wrestling meet.2 / 2

One of the most successful classes of wrestlers in the history of St. Croix Central High School ended their careers with one of the program's most bountiful showings at the WIAA State Wrestling Championships.

Seniors Kyle Aaby, Carl Moll and Cody Nyhagen all were placewinners at the 2013 WIAA State Individual Championships, with all three ending their careers by receiving medals on the state tournament awards podium.

Aaby and Nyhagen were both fifth place finishers at the state meet, while Moll finished in sixth place. It was the first time any of the three Panthers had earned medals at state.

The three Panther seniors competed in consecutive weight classes, which led to some scrambling by the Central coaches and divided attention for the Panther fans. In nearly every round, there were multiple Panthers on the mats at the same time. Nyhagen wrestled at 160 pounds in the Division 2 tournament, with Moll at 170 pounds and Aaby at 182 pounds.

And in every round except the last, the Panthers either advanced or were defeated together. In the opening round, Nyhagen and Aaby were winners, while Moll advanced on the bye he received as the champion of the Somerset sectional meet.

In the quarterfinals, all three Panthers were defeated in agonizingly close matches. Nyhagen lost in overtime to Marinette's Jared Boivin, 3-1. Moll was defeated by Cory Fitzpatrick of Viroqua 3-2. Aaby lost 3-1 to eventual state champion Brady Huenink of Waupun, giving Huenink the strongest challenge he received in the tournament.

The Panthers moved to the wrestlebacks where all three won their next match. Aaby eliminated Danny Dobbs of Melrose-Mindoro 5-2. Moll had another nail-biter, this time winning by a 3-2 score over Waupun senior Taylor Huenink. Nyhagen opened up his arsenal in this round, defeating former state placewinner Cole Hansen of Marshall 11-3.

"That's the best match I've ever seen (Nyhagen) put together," said Central coach Brad Holzer.

In the second tier of the wrestlebacks all three Panthers were defeated, moving them into the matches for fifth and sixth place. In that round Nyhagen lost to Kewaskum senior Brett Scoles 3-1. Moll lost to Brodhead-Juda senior Hunter Colden 7-2. Aaby had a rematch of the sectional championship match against St. Croix Falls senior Joe Rademacher. This was another gritty battle, with Rademacher winning 1-0.

It wasn't until the fifth place round that the Panthers had differing results. Nyhagen ended his career with a victory, edging West Salem-Bangor senior Alex Peters 4-3. Moll faced Fitzpatrick again and was defeated 8-1. Aaby was credited with taking fifth place, but didn't have a match in that round. August Peplinski of Wittenberg-Birnhamwood withdrew from the match on a medical forfeit because of a shoulder injury incurred in the previous round.

All three of the Panthers faced grueling weight classes at state.

"I heard numerous times that Division 2 160 pounds was by far the toughest weight class at state," Holzer said of the class that included Nyhagen. Nyhagen finishes his senior season with a 38-5 record. This was his third year competing at the state tournament.

This was Moll's first time competing at state. Moll was undersized for the 170-pound class, barely making the minimum weight to compete in the state weight class. Holzer said Moll's losses came against opponents who had a distinct size advantage over him.

"That's the best Carl's wrestled in his career," Holzer said. "He wasn't able to outmuscle kids. He had to outwrestle kids."

Moll finishes his senior season with a 34-9 record.

While Moll and Nyhagen were instant wrestling successes when they reached the high school level, it didn't come easily for Aaby. He battled knee problems in his freshman and sophomore seasons, finishing under .500 both seasons. Last year Aaby bloomed into a state-level wrestler and he improved this year to earn his second trip to state.

Holzer said Aaby had the tough luck of drawing the state champion in the second round and the third place finisher (Rademacher) in the wrestlebacks.

"He was right there with the best of the best," Holzer said. "Look what can happen from hard work and dedication. He's been a great kid to have around for four years."

Aaby finishes his senior season with a 44-5 record.