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Division 1 Wrestling: TIgers advance nine to sectionals

New Richmond senior Jake Laventure, a regional champion at 195 pounds, is shown having his hand raised after a victory at the recent Middle Border Conference tournament. Katie Davidson / Rivertown Multimedia

The coaches on the New Richmond wrestling team consider the WIAA Division 1 regional tournament as one of the biggest days of the Tigers’ season.

The Tigers wrestled like it was that important too. The Tigers advanced nine wrestlers through Saturday’s Division 1 regional meet at Chippewa Falls. They will compete at the Division 1 sectional meet next Saturday at Menomonie in hopes of qualifying for the WIAA state meet.

Three Tigers earned regional championships on Saturday: Jake Laventure, Brandon Dennis and Noah Henning. Tyler Dennis advances as a second place finisher and Ryan Muller advances after taking third place. Finishing fourth at the regional for the Tigers were Braeden Gefeke, Quentin Hayes, Devon Denison and Cayden Henning.

Laventure and Gefeke are the only two seniors the Tigers had competing and they both benefited from a decision the Tiger coaches made. The coaches bumped Gefeke, Laventure and Muller up a weight class. This was done because the coaches didn’t think the competition was as strong if they moved up a weight, and their decision proved accurate.

The Tigers had to make things happen on the mat. It started with Laventure. Laventure (27-12) earned pins in the first two rounds at 195. In the finals he faced top-seeded Sam Thompson of Menomonie (32-7). Laventure wrestled a smart tactical match. The first period was scoreless. Laventure chose down for the second period and was able to get a quick escape. Thompson selected the down position for the third, but Laventure’s strong ride prevented Thompson from getting away.

“Jake wrestled the best match he has all year, probably in his career,” said Tiger coach Jeff Swanson.

Laventure’s opening opponent at the sectional meet will be Rhinelander junior Connor Lund (11-6).

Brandon Dennis was sick at the Middle Border Conference meet a week ago, but he looked fully healthy at the regional. Dennis (29-9) overpowered his two opening foes at 132 pounds. He also had to knock off the top seed, River Falls’ Miles Longdorf (31-10). There wasn’t a question of who deserved the title. Dennis was strong and in control, winning 6-0.

Dennis will draw D.C. Everest sophomore Freddy Lehrke in the opening round at sectionals. Lehrke (31-9) is highly ranked but had an off day Saturday, resulting in a fourth place finish at the Merrill regional.

Noah Henning was a second seed at 113, just like Dennis and Laventure. He also thoroughly dominated his first two matches to face the top seed. Henning (18-16) was also the better wrestler in the finals, defeating James Hampton (21-12) of River Falls 12-6.

“He was really wrestling aggressively and did a lot of nice things. He opened up more every match,” Swanson said.

Henning’s opening draw at sectionals is Rhinelander sophomore Hugh Wiese (14-21).

Tyler Dennis (25-12) wrestled very well to win his first two matches in the 138-pound bracket. In the finals he met one of the premier wrestlers in the area, Hudson’s Logan Hatch and lost by technical fall.

“The Hatch kid is the real deal,” was Swanson’s comment.

Dennis will start action at the sectional by facing Wisconsin Rapids junior Zac Hamel (36-10).

Muller opened action at 220 pounds by pinning his opponent from Eau Claire North in 56 seconds. In the semifinals Muller was pinned in 5:06 by Menomonie’s Girard Jones. Muller (16-14) bounced back to pin Hudson’s Shao Yang in the third place match in 1:48.

Muller’s opening draw at the sectional meet will be Wisconsin Rapids senior Layne Kalate (26-12).

Cayden Henning opened action at 126 pounds with a pin, but then was defeated in two close matches. Needing a win in the fourth place match to advance, Henning opened up his moves and beat Menomonie’s Blane Keyes by a technical fall, 17-0.

Henning draws the champion from the Merrill regional, Marshfield sophomore Gabe Pugh (32-4) in the opening round at sectionals.

Denison advanced at 145 pounds. He opened action with a 12-5 win, then was pinned in his next two matches. He secured his spot at the sectional by pinning Menomonie’s Cole Larson. Denison (8-11) will face Wyler Lubeck of Wisconsin Rapids (40-3) in the opener at sectionals.

Hayes opened action at 152 pounds by pinning Hudson’s Brody Pronschinske, but was pinned in his next two matches. Hayes (13-12) pinned Menomonie’s Caleb Macke in the fourth place bout. Hayes draws Marshfield’s Nolan Hertel (37-1) in the opening round at sectionals.

Gefeke (20-20) opened the regional meet by getting a major decision in the opening round of the 182-pound bracket. He then was defeated in his next two matches, locking him into fourth place. Gefeke’s opening draw at sectionals is Marshfield’s Bentley Schwanebeck-Ost (38-1).

 Only two wrestlers in each weight class at the Division 1 sectional meet advance to the state meet. Wrestlers who are defeated in the opening round are eliminated.

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 more than 30 years.

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