The Somerset wrestling team achieved the goal of finishing in second place at the Middle Border Conference tournament.
The Spartans were able to finish in second place behind Ellsworth at the 2018 MBC tournament held at Baldwin-Woodville High School Saturday, Feb. 3. That achievement gave the Spartans a reason for pride, but the Spartans also came away with a sense they could have done more. The Spartans didn't perform well in the championship round and they were beaten in all three championships to which they advanced.
Actually, they only wrestled two of those three championship matches. Senior Preston Anez is coming back from a shoulder injury. Somerset coach Ali Peterson said the decision wasn't made until the night before the tournament to allow Anez to wrestle. After an opening bye, Anez beat Prescott's Cody Atherton 9-2 in the 152-pound semifinals.
"We felt the risk was too much," Peterson said in holding Anez out of the title match. "He was pretty sore after (the semifinal) match."
Also reaching their title matches for the Spartans were seniors Garret Hecht and Zeb Rivard. Hecht was competing at 170 pounds. He pinned his opening opponent in 46 seconds. In the semifinals, he and Osceola's Jack Feldt waged a tough, defensive battle. Hecht was able to swing the match his way in the third period, winning 4-3.
Hecht wasn't so fortunate in the finals. He faced Ellsworth's Dalton George. Hecht tried a couple early shots, but couldn't complete them. George was able to turn the match in his favor and win 11-2. Peterson said he thought the match would have been different if Hecht could have gotten an early takedown.
"We think we're pretty close there," Peterson said.
Rivard also had to come from behind to reach the finals at 285 pounds. He trailed Osceola's Tyler Johnson in the second round of the semifinals. Rivard is cagey and patient. He waited for the right moment and was able to throw Johnson to his back, getting the pin in 3:46. Rivard couldn't get anything going in the finals against a larger opponent, Ellsworth's Caleb Linder. Linder caught Rivard almost immediately, driving him to his back for the pin.
The Spartans led the tournament after the opening round, getting wins in 10 opening round matches. Tyler Hantsbarger and Jared Grahovac were able to step up to third place finishes for the Spartans. Nick Kearns, Steven Moncada, Nick Bushinger, Peter Lepper and Brett Vetterkind were all fourth place finishers.
"That's who we are," Peterson said of the early success that led to the second place team finish. "We've got a lot of kids at the 'really good' level."
The Spartans are hoping to carry the success from the conference meet into this Saturday's WIAA Division 2 regional meet at St. Croix Central. Peterson said winning a regional title is the team goal, while the Spartans are hoping they can send a large group of wrestlers to the sectional level.
"Six is the realistic number, but there might be as many as 10," Peterson said on the team's goal for individuals to qualify for the sectional meet.