St. Croix Central sophomore Devin Wasley earned a championship and Somerset senior Tyler Hantsbarger was a second place finisher to top the local results for the 2019 Northern Badger Wrestling Invitational, held Friday and Saturday at River Falls High School.
Wasley won the championship at 160 pounds, helping the Panthers to a ninth place finish among the 38 teams competing in the tournament. Hantsbarger was the second place finisher at 126 pounds.
St. Croix Central
The Panthers were able to get six placewinners among their 12 wrestlers competing in the tournament, which produced the top 10 finish.
Wasley won his title in a clash of unbeaten wrestlers in the 160-pound finals against Will Peters of Chetek-Prairie Farm. Peters took Wasley down in the first 30 seconds of the match. Wasley quickly scored a reversal and dominated the match from there, winning 10-4. Wasley also faced a good test in the semifinals, beating Payton Kostka of Regis-Altoona, 5-2.
“Devin’s wrestling at a different level. He’s just a hammer on top,” Central coach Brad Holzer said. Wasley is now 18-0 this season.
The last Panther to win a Northern Badger weight class championship was Cody Nyhagen in 2012.
David Olson placed fourth for the Panthers at 126 pounds. He handled his first two opponents before facing undefeated Tyler Hantsbarger in the semifinals, where Olson lost 3-0. In the third place match, Olson lost by decision to James Hampton of River Falls. Olson is now 13-4.
Freshman Parker Shackleton was the seventh place finisher at 195 pounds. Shackleton went 3-2 for the tournament. Holzer said the coaches are working with Shackleton to change his stance. The coaches are working to get Shackleton to take advantage of his low center of gravity and his superior strength.
Junior Tadan Holzer was the 11th place finish in the 132-pound class, considered one of the deepest classes in the tournament. Holzer went 4-3, including a 2-0 win over a Chequamegon opponent in the 11th place match.
Seniors Erik Collins and Braeden Bloom were 12th place finishers. Collins earned three wins at 138 pounds. Bloom earned two wins before being pulled out of the tournament for an injury precaution.
Coach Holzer said Bloom (13-5) has always wrestled “a big boy style” so his move to the upper weights this season has led to his success.
The next action for the Panthers will be on Thursday, Jan. 9, when they host Amery in Central’s annual Parents’ Night match.
Getting two top-five finishers when you have six wrestlers competing made the 2019 Northern Badger a success for the Spartans.
Hantsbarger reached the championship podium at 126 pounds. Senior Sawyer Wilson also made the podium, finishing fifth at 285 pounds.
Hantsbarger improved to 18-1 for the season. His first loss of the season came in the 126-pound championship match Saturday in overtime against Markus Brown of Northwestern. Brown got a takedown in the first period, with Hantsbarger getting an escape before the period ended. Hantsbarger rode Brown throughout the second period. Hantsbarger got an escape in the third period, sending the match to overtime. Brown got a takedown 30 seconds into the overtime.
Somerset coach Ali Peterson said Hantsbarger has wrestled extremely well this season, but said there are still areas where he can make progress.
“I’d like to see him open it up a little more,” Peterson said. “When you get to the state wrestling level, (being more offensive) is what he did at the sectionals last year.”
Wilson struggled in his first two minutes of the tournament, then caught fire to finish the tournament with a 5-1 record. His only loss was to undefeated tournament champion Tanner Gaffey of St. Croix Falls in the quarterfinals, 4-0. Wilson is now 14-6 this season.
“To take fifth place, for a kid who’s only wrestled 380 days in his life, that’s pretty amazing,” Peterson said of Wilson’s rapid transformation as a wrestler.
Zach Maitrejean and Landon Anez both went 2-2 in the tournament for the Spartans.
Somerset next wrestles on Thursday, Jan. 9, in a dual match at New Richmond. The Spartans will return to New Richmond two days later to compete in the 2020 New Richmond Invitational.