The best day of wrestling this season for the New Richmond wrestlers came at Saturday's Middle Border Conference Tournament.
The Tigers made a major charge in the championship round, including winning three individual titles, which led the Tigers to climb several rungs in the final tournament standings. By the end of the day, the Tigers had moved up to third place in the final standings, finishing just 1.5 points out of second place.
Winning individual championships for the Tigers were seniors Nathan Fehlen and Dylan Wachter and sophomore Brandon Dennis.
The Tigers had 10 wrestlers place fifth or better in their weight classes, which helped the team accumulate points.
"I don't think anyone expected us to be up there," New Richmond coach Jeff Swanson said of the third place finish. "We couldn't have wrestled much better. Hopefully, it carries over the next couple weeks."
Dennis likely would rank as one of the biggest surprises of the entire tournament. He was seeded fourth in the uber-talented 126-pound class. After a 15-0 win in his opening match, Dennis faced top seed Alex McCray of Baldwin-Woodville. McCray led 6-3 in the third period. Dennis got a takedown and immediately released McCray. Dennis got another takedown in the final seconds to force the match into overtime. Dennis was able to get at McCray's legs and took him down for the win.
That was just the start of the drama.
Dennis faced Ellsworth's Jon Cain in the finals. Dennis trailed 3-0 early in the third period, before again getting two takedowns to send the match to overtime. Just like against McCray, Dennis used a high-crotch move to get the takedown, this one coming with three seconds left in the overtime.
"Brandon just goes," Swanson said. "I think our kids are in really good shape. We won a lot of matches in the third period."
Another of those late wins was produced by Watcher in the 152-pound semifinals. Wachter trailed Ellsworth's Cedric Konospfal 5-3 in the third period. Wachter was able to reverse Konospfal directly to his back, and held him there until time ran out for the 8-5 victory.
Wachter won the conference title without wrestling. Somerset's Preston Anez withdrew from the match due to an injury.
Fehlen's championship wasn't dramatic, it was dominant. After an opening bye, he pinned his opponent in 42 seconds in the 160-pound semifinals. Osceola's Logan Johnson stayed away from Fehlen in the first period of the finals. Fehlen started the second period in the top position and needed just 37 seconds to get the pin.
"His last few matches have probably been his best of the year," Swanson said. "He's pretty focused right now."
Also reaching the finals was Ryan Muller at 220 pounds. Muller needed a comeback to earn a 4-2 win in the semifinals over Gabe Lowney of Osceola. Ellsworth's Logan Peterson wouldn't allow Muller another comeback, pinning Muller in third period.
Third place finishes for the Tigers were achieved by Tyler Dennis at 132 pounds and Travis Messer at 195 pounds. Cayden Henning at 120 pounds and Joe Powers at 145 pounds, just back from a broken hand, were fourth place finishers. Matt Harle at 106 and Devin Denison at 140 were fifth place finishers.
The Tigers will host the Division 1 regional tournament this Saturday with action beginning at 10 a.m. Teams joining the Tigers include Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire Memorial, Eau Claire North, Menomonie, Hudson, River Falls and Superior.