Team-wide contributions helped the St. Croix Central wrestlers to place fifth among 19 teams at the Bluejay Challenge held at Merrill High School on Saturday.
Eight of the 11 Panthers who wrestled in the tournament finished among the top five wrestlers in their weight class. The top finish for the Panthers was produced by sophomore Devin Wasley in the 160-pound class.
Wasley finished in second place, suffering his first loss of the season. But in that loss, Wasley proved how much he’s grown in a season, and where he stands among the state’s best wrestlers. In the 160 finals Wasley faced Prairie du Chien’s Traeton Saint, who is ranked second in the state. The match was close the entire way. Saint took the lead on a four-point move. The score was 6-4 until the final few seconds when Wasley gave up a takedown as he tried to get the tying points, leaving the final score 8-4.
Last year when they met in the same tournament, Saint beat Wasley in a technical fall.
“It was awesome to see he can wrestle with the best kids in the state,” Central coach Brad Holzer said of Wasley.
Panthers who placed fourth in their classes included David Olson at 126, Logan Shackleton at 152, Braeden Bloom at 170, Parker Shackleton at 182 and Josh Bair at 220. Placing fifth for the Panthers Tadan Holzer at 132 and Erik Collins at 138.
Coach Holzer praised the team-wide production from the Panthers in the tournament. All 11 of the Panthers earned bonus points during the day, helping them to build up their strong point total. Going into the final round, the Panthers were tied with Boyceville in the team competition. The Panthers finished ahead of several larger schools, including Wausau West and Chippewa Falls.
In Holzer’s opinion Collins and Logan Shackleton had two of the best days for the Panthers. He said Collins stayed true to what he does best and it helped him to win four matches during the day. Shackleton took fourth in a talented weight class.
“Logan had a good day on his feet. He’s got a great high-crotch double and he’s getting more comfortable using it against good kids,” Holzer said.
The Panthers have a big week ahead of them. The Panthers will wrestle a Middle Border Conference dual match at Baldwin-Woodville on Thursday. On Friday, the Panthers will host their annual Hall of Fame Duals tournament. The coaches have added schools to make this a more potent lineup. Wisconsin teams joining the Panthers in competing include Northwestern, Durand and Luck-Frederic-Grantsburg, along with Minnesota teams from Byron and Foley. Doug Kruschke will be this year’s Hall of Fame inductee.