The final dual matches of the New Richmond wrestling season will be held in the upcoming days. That sets the Tigers' sights on the postseason.
The Tigers are coming off a strong performance Thursday Jan. 18, where they defeated Amery, 50-30. That win put the Tigers' record in Middle Border Conference matches at 3-2. The Tigers finish the regular season with a dual match at Osceola on Thursday and a home dual match against Ellsworth next Tuesday. That's the makeup of a previous postponement.
The work that is geared toward the postseason showed in Thursday's win over Amery. It is a continuation of the work the Tigers started at the recent Chippewa Falls tournament. The Tiger coaches are having the more experienced wrestlers work on holds that aren't currently in their arsenal. Varsity coach Jeff Swanson said the working on tight-waist holds where opponents can be tilted for back points has been one of the holds the coaches are emphasizing.
"You've got to force them to get out of their comfort zone," Swanson said on adding new holds. "We tilted a lot of kids at Chippewa Falls. We'll keep working on it."
The Tigers went into last Thursday's dual match knowing Amery had several standouts in its lineup. But the Warriors also forfeited four weight classes. The Tigers opened the night with a 10-1 win by senior Travis Messer at 195 pounds. The Tigers received forfeits in three of the next four matches. The exception was at 106 where Amery freshman Walker Ingham is one of the top-ranked Division 2 wrestlers in the state. New Richmond's Matt Harle did an admirable job of battling Ingham before giving up a second-period pin.
The Tigers got the points needed to assure themselves of the team win when the Dennis brothers scored consecutive pins in the 126- and 132-pound classes. Brandon Dennis pinned his opponent 37 seconds into the third period of the 126-pound bout. Tyler Dennis needed just 34 seconds to get his pin at 132 pounds.
"They knew the expectation was to get pins and they were both very aggressive," Swanson said of the Dennis brothers.
One of the matches where the Tigers were clearly working on plans for the postseason was at 152 pounds. Senior Dylan Wachter was a heavy favorite over Amery's Canyon Schwartz. Wachter concentrated on tight-waist moves entirely through his 8-0 win instead of working toward holds that would likely have been easier to produce a pin.
The Tigers' final win of the night came at 182 pounds. Junior Braeden Gefeke had an 8-0 lead on his opponent when Gefeke scored the pin in the second period. Gefeke is one of several new additions who is advancing rapidly.
Another is junior Reece Lucas. The Tigers had five wrestlers compete at the Varsity Reserve state tournament this weekend. Lucas was the only Tiger who won matches at the tournament. But he won four of them, earning fifth place in the 160-pound bracket. Also competing at the tournament were Quentin Hayes, Gavyn Shilts, Anders LeMire and Emily Daniluk.