Thursday’s Middle Border Conference wrestling dual between New Richmond and Somerset helps to set the stage for Saturday’s New Richmond Invitational.

The Tigers and Spartans will be among the 11 teams competing in Saturday’s annual tournament, which will be held for the 51st year.

In Thursday’s dual, the score was tied 24-24. The final matches were in the weights where the Tigers are their strongest and they were able to pull away for a 48-24 victory.

The entire field for Saturday’s tournament includes the Tigers and Spartans, Amery, Athens, Clear Lake, Osceola, Rice Lake, River Falls, Spooner, Spring Valley and Trinity. Action begins Saturday at 9:30 a.m.

The Tigers and Spartans both had some nice wins in the early stages of Thursday’s match. The night started with New Richmond junior Sam LaPean getting a pin at 170 pounds. Somerset answered with sophomore Landon Anez scoring a pin at 182. The next match wrestled was at 285. New Richmond senior Ryan Muller moved up from 220 to take on Somerset’s Sawyer Wilson. The match was tied 2-2 after two periods, before Wilson was able to earn a pin in the third period.

After forfeits in the lower weights, the next bout held was at 126 pounds. Somerset’s Tyler Hantsbarger got a good contest from Noah Henning before scoring a third period.

Hantsbarger and New Richmond’s Brandon Dennis both could reach career milestones in Saturday’s tournament. They both could reach the 100-win mark during Saturday’s action.

Two young wrestlers took the mat at 132 pounds, where New Richmond’s Aiden Zinck and Somerset’s Landon Wilson had a competitive bout, with Zinck winning on a third period pin.

Somerset junior Zach Maitrejean did his best to stay with Dennis in the 145-pound class before Dennis scored a pin at 4:55. Tyler Dennis followed his brother’s pin with another in the 152-pound class, done in 1:14.

The match finished with Tiger senior C.J. Moeller getting a pin at 160 pounds.

Both coaches were looking ahead to Saturday after seeing Thursday’s action.

“Uff da, there are some really tough weight classes,” New Richmond coach Jeff Swanson said in reviewing Saturday’s brackets. He said River Falls and Amery bring in outstanding teams and there are a number of teams that could also put multiple wrestlers in the finals.

Swanson said he was pleased that his experienced wrestlers like the Dennises and Moeller performed up to expectations on Thursday, while less experienced wrestlers like LaPean and Zinck were able to take charge in close matches.

Somerset coach Ali Peterson said the wins from Anez and Wilson were positives and that Hantsbarger used the match to sharpen his skills. He said the younger Spartans continued to learn in matches where they were mostly less experienced.

St. Croix Central loss

The Panthers suffered their first Middle Border Conference dual loss of the season on Thursday at the hands of the Amery Warriors. Amery won the match, 50-27.

Central got wins from Braeden Bloom, Brandon Trudell, David Olson and Devin Wasley. Central also received a forfeit at 182 pounds.

The night started with Central grabbing a 12-0 win. Bloom continued his recent ascent, earning a pin at 170 pounds. That was followed by the 182-pound forfeit.

The next four matches all went Amery’s way as the Warriors built up a 23-12 lead. Trudell then came through with a pin at 113 to put the Panthers back in striking distance. Amery received a forfeit at 120, before Olson won in overtime at 126.

The 132-145 weights are Amery’s strongest area and the Warriors put down three pins in those weights, followed by a decision at 152 pounds. Wasley finished the night with another pin to stay unbeaten.

Central coach Brad Holzer said Amery won the matches they had ranked as tossups and that ended up being the difference in the match.

“I thought we had a pretty good game plan,” Holzer said.

The Panthers will run into more strong competition on Saturday when they wrestle in a tournament at Merrill.