Both Ellsworth and Prescott attended Eau Claire North's Husky Invitational on Saturday, Dec. 9 — a 21-team tournament — and both finished as a top-10 team.
The Panthers finished with five individual champions — Charlie Stuhl, Owen Matzek, Sam Stuhl, Jared Lansing and Caleb Linder — and 535 team points. Plainview-Elgin-Millville of Minnesota took second with 432 points.
Aside from their five champs, the Panthers also had 11 other wrestlers go 3-1 on the day that head coach Mark Matzek described as going "very well."
Matzek said this year's squad came away from the tournament with more champions and points than last year's team.
"We made some gains," Matzek said of his team's performance at Eau Claire North compared to their own invite. "We still have plenty of work to do, but what was really promising was how those five champions won their matches."
Matzek said the five champs made some mistakes in their final matches, but that they showed great toughness.
Sam won his final match against Tate Murty of Cochrane-Fountain City in overtime.
"Once it gets to overtime, it's just a matter of who wants it more and who's just going to will themselves to win," Matzek said.
Lansing also showed mental and physical toughness in his 7-5 overtime defeat over Ladysmith's Nathan Roach.
Charlie was losing 5-0 to start the 120-pound championship match, but came back to beat PEM's Nick Miller 10-9.
"That shows some great grit and perseverance on his part," coach Matzek said. "Everybody gets tired, but it's those who can function and compete when they're tired — those are the guys who are going to win those close matches. Those are the guys who are going to be able to draw back on tough experiences in practice or some of the mental aspects that we've gone through so far this year."
Matzek said those mental aspects include, for his wrestlers, remembering, "If I'm this tired, just think how tired that guy is."
Linder hurt his knee in his first match, but came back and pinned his way to a 285-pound title.
"I would rather have a team that's tough than a team that's technically sound if I had to choose," Matzek said.
The Panthers also saw Amery in their first dual of the season on Thursday, Dec. 7 where they finished with a 63-15 victory.
The Panthers host Somerset on Thursday, Dec. 14 in their first home dual of the season.
"We have to take care of things at home against Somerset before we focus on the Christmas Tournament," Matzek said of the 31st Annual Minnesota Christmas Tournament that his team will be attending at Rochester Community & Technical College on Dec. 15 and 16. "It is a tough tournament. The Christmas tournament is tougher to win than the state tournament, in my opinion."
Matzek's wrestlers can expect to face multiple-time state champions from Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin, some who are nationally ranked, at Friday and Saturday's invitational.
"If you make it to the second day, it's a meat grinder," Matzek said.
Prescott's head coach Jordan Poirier was a little less pleased than Matzek with his team's performance at Saturday's Husky Invite where they finished 10th with 186.5 team points.
"We had our ups and downs," Poirier said. "As a whole, I think we had a tough tournament."
Poirier said that Ethan Tulip who finished in ninth place in the 113-pound weight class faced a "not-so-pleasant" call in his first match against PEM's Kael Lamb that threw the rest of his day off. Tulip finished 3-1 on the day.
Prescott's Cody Atherton faced a state qualifier, Superior's Brandon McClure, in the first round, then was challenged with a sectional qualifier, Mitchel Harmon of Bloomer/Colfax. Atherton was pinned by both opponents.
"He kind of had a tough draw right away," Poirier said of Atherton, "but we went out, we competed, and we can only wrestle the people in front of us."
The Cardinals were led by Joe Schulte and Ty Sanford who each took second place in their weight classes.
Earlier in the week, the Cardinals lost 39-18 at Somerset in their second dual of the season.
"The score isn't reflective of how we wrestled," Poirier said of the Cardinals' match against Somerset. "The guys wrestled probably the best I've seen them wrestle. They maintained good positions, and the score didn't indicate how I thought we wrestled."
Ryan Pederson, Schulte and Sanford all pinned their Somerset opponents.
"We took three steps forward in the way we wrestled," Poirier said about Prescott's dual against Somerset compared to an earlier dual against Amery. "Our conditioning was so much better, we fought off our back when we needed to, and we did enough to progress week-to-week, which is all I'm asking for."
Poirier said he's seen improvements in his team's positioning, but now his wrestlers need to work on scoring more points and evolving their offense.
"I reinforce to these guys constantly that December and January is practice," Poirier said. "As frustrating of a day that we had [Saturday], it's all preparing us for February when regionals and sectionals come.
"Hopefully they can keep that level-headed, and move on into this next week."
Next, the Cardinals head to New Richmond on Thursday, Dec. 14 to take on the Tigers in another conference dual. After that, Prescott will take a two-week break from competition before heading to River Falls on Thursday, Dec. 28.
"Our January is pretty busy, so this break in the midway point of the season, I think is good to get the guys healthy and hopefully reenergized and refocused," Poirier said.
HUSKY INVITE INDIVIDUAL RESULTS
106: First place match: Blaine Brenner (Stanley-Boyd/Owen Withee) 10-1, Fr. over Bailey Poellinger (Ellsworth) 6-2, So. (Dec 6-0). Fifth place match: Walker Langer (Baldwin-Woodville) 7-3, So. over Ryan Pederson (Prescott) 5-4, So. (Dec 2-0).
113: Fifth place match: Carter Huppert (Ellsworth) 5-2, So. over Cole Nelson (Ellsworth) 2-2, So. (Dec 5-3). Ninth place match: Ethan Tulip (Prescott) 7-2, Sr. over Dylan Dorwin (Durand) 5-3, Sr. (Fall 3:00).
120: Charlie Stuhl (Ellsworth) 8-0, So. over Nick Miller (Plainview-Elgin-Millville) 8-2, Sr. (Dec 10-9).
126: Fifth place match: Jared Toenjes (Ellsworth) 7-2, Jr. over Jon Cain (Ellsworth) 2-2, Jr. (SV-1 3-1).
132: First place match: Owen Matzek (Ellsworth) 8-0, Sr. over Bailey Gillett (Cadott) 8-2, Sr. (Dec 10-7). Fifth place match: Jordan Schlichting (Ellsworth) 3-1, Jr. over Brandon Dennis (New Richmond) 5-4, So. (Dec 4-0).
138: First place match: Sam Stuhl (Ellsworth) 8-0, Sr. over Tate Murty (Cochrane-Fountain City) 7-2, Sr. (SV-1 12-10). Ninth place match: Reed Olson (Ellsworth) 3-1, Jr. over Tyler Dennis (New Richmond) 5-4, Fr. (Fall 0:29).
145: Jared Lansing (Ellsworth) 9-0, Jr. over Nathan Roach (Ladysmith) 4-1, Sr. (SV-1 7-5). Fifth place match: Michael Murphy (Eagan) 7-3, So. over Coby Ekholm (Ellsworth) 2-2, Jr. (Dec 4-2).
152: Third place match: Wyatt Hines (Ellsworth) 7-2, Jr. over Jeremy Landowski (Wittenberg-Birnamwood) 5-7, Jr. (TF-1.5 5:26 (17-2)). Fifth place match: Sawyer Hamilton (Ellsworth) 3-1, Jr. over Bode LaGrander (Baldwin-Woodville) 4-5, So. (Fall 2:29).
160: Fifth place match: Cedric Kosnopfal (Ellsworth) 7-3, Jr. over Mason West (Eagan) 7-4, Sr. (MD 10-2). Ninth place match: Alex Matzek (Ellsworth) 3-1, Jr. over Dakota Gartmann (Baldwin-Woodville) 5-5, Jr. (Dec 6-5). Thirteenth place match: Andrew Shelstad (Prescott) 4-6, Jr. over Christian Moeller (New Richmond) 2-7, So. (Fall 4:52).
170: Fifth place match: Dalton George (Ellsworth) 8-2, Sr. over Drew Allred (Eagan) 5-6, Sr. (Dec 10-5). Seventh place match: Connor Jones (Plainview-Elgin-Millville) 4-5, Jr. over Ethan Luksich (Prescott) 2-8, Jr. (Fall 3:52).
182: Dustin Dittrich (Plainview-Elgin-Millville) 6-1, Jr. over Joe Schulte (Prescott) 8-1, So. (Dec 9-4). Seventh place match: Cliff Hayes (Nekoosa/Assumption/Port Edwards) 6-3, Sr. over Connor Ekholm (Ellsworth) 4-4, Sr. (M. For.).
195: Austin Rother (Plainview-Elgin-Millville) 9-0, Sr. over Ty Sanford (Prescott) 9-2, Sr. (Fall 5:09). Fifth place match: Cody Gilbertson (Durand) 5-3, Jr. over Mike Hines (Ellsworth) 2-6, So. (Fall 3:07).
220: Third place match: Logan Peterson (Ellsworth) 6-2, So. over Samuel Hasenohrl (Auburndale) 5-4, Sr. (Dec 6-4).
285: First place match: Caleb Linder (Ellsworth) 8-1, Sr. over Allen Uttecht (Wittenberg-Birnamwood) 9-3, So. (Fall 2:56). Eleventh place match: Isaiah Rolli (Ladysmith) 2-3, Jr. over Shawn Thomason (Prescott) 2-7, Fr. (Fall 0:28).