Area wrap-up regular season, get ready for postseason
High school venues which have not been used for prep wrestling in a while, in some cases a long while, are once again in use during the 2022-23 season.
Eleva-Strum hosts its first wrestling dual meet in over 40 years this evening Thursday, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. as the Mondovi/Eleva-Strum team hosts Spring Valley/Elmwood in the final regular season dual meet for both squads.
And Augusta's high school; gym saw its first wrestling action since 2019 last week Thursday as the Osseo-Fairchild/Augusta team hosted both Cadott and Neillsville/Greenwood/Loyal in Cloverbelt Conference dual meets.
While the Dragons lost both duals given their limited numbers, head coach Dan Schulte was pleased with the way they wrestled. OFA won five of the seven matches wrestled against NGL, losing only 42-30 and put forth good efforts despite losing 60-9 against a strong Cadott squad which will vie for the Cloverbelt Conference meet title this Saturday, Feb. 4 in Abbotsford. The Hornets topped NGL 63-18 and have a 8-0 record in league dual meets.
"We're super excited to for the postseason to get the opportunity for our wrestlers to experience individual success which they are all capable of if they wrestle well," Schulte said. "
One of those wrestlers will be senior Hunter Breaker. He and fellow senior teammate Cayden Gunter were able to wrestle in their home gym at AHS last week with Breaker pinning NGL's Jakob Luchterhand in 2:39 at 160 pounds and losing a close decision to Cadott's Cole Pfeiffer at 170 by a 5-3 score. He was also able to pick up three wins all by pinfall in a make-up quadrangular meet at Spencer on Tuesday evening, Jan. 31.
"At this time of the season wrestlers and coaches look at what weight class has the chances for the wrestler to advance in their conference, regional and sectional meets and we think 160 fits Hunter well," Schulte said. " He's had to lose some weight to get down there but as he gets more in shape the past few weeks before the postseason we feel he's going to do a real good job."
Other OFA winners from last week's triangular in Augusta included junior Gryphon Brown at 220 with a :49 second fall against NGL's Gunner Hoffman; senior Bryce Armstrong-Baglien with a 1:33 pinfall of NGL's Derek Zschernitz at 132 followed by an 8-4 win over Cadott's Nick Goettl at 126. Gunter and OFA sophomore Aaliyah Zamora and senior Breanna Wier all received foreit wins during the meet.
Armstrong-Baglien also got two wins on Tuesday's quad meet as well. He's got a case to make for himself at 126 or 132, particularly in the conference meet where he may wrestle NGL's top-ranked Luke Dux for the title. Both teams are in the same WIAA Division 2 regional meet as well which is next weekend in Neillsville.
"There's things I need to clean up but I felt really paitent and not forcing anything in my wrestling knowing scoring points in a match is just as important as going for a pin," Armstrong-Baglien said.
OFA will finish with a 2-19 dual record with just wins over Chippewa Falls McDonell. Dragon wrestlers who got wins vs. the Macks on Tuesday in Spencer included Zamora, Guntner, Dustin Sudbrink and Brown. Other OFA winners in duals vs. Stanley-Boyd and Spencer/Marshfield Columbus included Zamora and Sudbrink vs. S-B and Gunter vs. Spencer-Columbus.
Some of the top-ranked wrestlers that will competing in Saturday's conference meet include Cadott's Kaleb Lodahl at 106; Deglan O'Connell of Eau Claire Regis/Altoona at 113; defending champion Brayden Sonnentag of Cadott at 132; Stanley-Boyd's Breckin Burzyinski at 132; Regis/Altoona's Chase Kostka at 138; Cadott's Tristan Dreier at 152, Cadott's Cole Pfeiffer at 160; Bloomer/Colfax's Ethan Rubenzer at 170; Cadott's Dawson Webster at 182; Regis/Altoona's Brayden Albee at 182; Cadott's Levi Lindsay at 195; Regis/Altoona's Caden Weber at 195; and Heavyweight Nathan Zarins of Thorp/Owen-Withee.
OFA also competed in the annual Indee Invitational meet hosted by Independence/Gilmanton last weekend Saturday, Jan. 28. Breaker placed second at 160, losing in the finals in overtime 7-5 to Jackson Hughes of Onalaska co-op and Armstrong-Baglien placed fourth at 126.
The Mondovi/Eleva-Strum co-op team last week lost a rescheduled dual meet at Glenwood City 72-11 on Tuesday, Jan. 24 but bounced back quickly to beat Durand-Arkansaw 60-11 at home on Thursday, Jan. 26. E-S's Abriella Reed was winner against the Panthers at 112 pounds. M-E-S also competed in the Whitetail Invitational Duals in Menomonie on Friday, Jan. 27 going 1-3 with their lone win over Spring Valley/Elmwood 51-16. M-E-S has an 8-17 overall record in dual meets, 1-2 in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference. They added in more duals competition in a five-team meet held at Somerset this past Tuesday, Jan . 31 before finishing their regular season tonight.
Female wrestlers will not compete in next weekend's regional meets. Instead they will head directly to the individual sectional meet set for Feb. 18 in Amery. Those winning their respective weight classes will advance to the one-class state meet in Madison Feb. 23-25 automatically with the rest of the girls' brackets to filled out according to seeding.