The 2020 Middle Border Conference Wrestling Tournament was one of the most balanced of the MBC tournaments in a number of years.
Ellsworth won the team title with 238.5 points. Baldwin-Woodville was second at 190, with Amery at 186.5. Osceola was fourth at 141, a half point ahead of New Richmond. St. Croix Central was sixth at 137 points.
There was excellent distribution among the champions. Ellsworth had four titleists, with Amery and B-W each getting three, Osceola two, and St. Croix Central and Prescott getting one each.
Central’s champion was sophomore Devin Wasley at 160 pounds. New Richmond had four wrestlers reach the finals, all finishing second. Somerset senior Tyler Hantsbarger was also a second place finisher.
With four second place finishers and two more in third, the Tigers had six of their 12 wrestlers make the podium.
The Tigers had the misfortune of running up against standouts in each of their four championship matches.
Brandon Dennis is one of the standouts of the conference, but he ran up against Ellsworth’s Charlie Stuhl in the 138-pound finals. Stuhl was going for his fourth straight MBC title and he was able to defeat Dennis, 10-0. Dennis put in a superlative performance in the semifinals, beating Amery’s Mason Tylee, 11-0.
Tyler Dennis was going for his second straight MBC title, but he was defeated in an excellent battle in the 145-pound finals by Amery’s Walker Ingham, 4-0. Dennis was the third seed, knocking off second seed Sam Crowley of Baldwin-Woodville in the semifinals, 6-4.
Cayden Henning was the third straight Tiger to make the finals in the middle weights, advancing at 152. He battled evenly for much of the title match, losing to Ellsworth’s Carter Huppert 5-2.
Gabriel, a freshman, reached the finals at 120. Gabriel was the fourth seed, but he upended top seed Lucas Sedivy 11-6 in the semifinals. Gabriel couldn’t pull off another upset, losing to Ellsworth’s Cole Nelson 10-0 in the finals.
Third place finishers for the Tigers were Parker Stephens and Ryan Muller. Stephens moved into the lineup a few weeks ago at 182 pounds. He won three matches, with his only loss coming against MBC champion Blaine Guthrie of Baldwin-Woodville.
“He just keeps getting better every week,” Tiger coach Jeff Swanson said.
Muller took third place at 195. His only loss came on a 10-5 decision against Amery’s Kale Hopke in the semifinals.
Swanson said he felt the Tigers got about the maximum production they could from the tournament.
The Tigers were competing without two starters. C.J. Moeller is out for the season with a recent knee injury and Noah Henning was ill.
This is the last time the Tigers will see wrestlers from the MBC this season. The Tigers move up to Division 1 for the WIAA tournament series. That begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, when the Tigers compete in the Division 1 regional meet at Hudson. The top four wrestlers in the regional advance to the sectional tournament that will be wrestled on Saturday, Feb. 22, at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School. Other teams competing in Saturday’s regional meet include Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire Memorial, Eau Claire North, Hudson Menomonie, River Falls and Superior.
St. Croix Central
Most of the success for the Panthers on Saturday came in the upper weights, led by Wasley’s championship at 160 pounds. Wasley won his first MBC title after placing second at 145 pounds last season.
Wasley wrestling skill showed as he won by technical fall in both his matches, including a 16-0 win over Baldwin-Woodville’s Bode LaGrander in the finals.
“He’s at the top of his game right now,” said Central coach Brad Holzer.
Central had three wrestlers reach the finals, in consecutive weight classes. Wasley was followed to the title mat by Braeden Bloom at 170 and Parker Shackleton at 182.
Bloom reached the finals with a wild 11-10 win over Ellsworth’s Ryan Matzek in the semifinals. In the finals Bloom ran up against Baldwin-Woodville’s Max Ramberg, losing on a first period pin.
Shackleton met defending champion Blaine Guthrie of B-W in the 182 finals. Shackleton didn’t look like a freshman, giving Guthrie a solid battle before losing 5-2.
Junior Josh Bair was a third place finisher for the Panthers at 220. He recorded three wins, with his only loss coming in the semifinals against eventual champion Joe Schulte of Prescott.
Logan Shackleton, Tadan Holzer and Brandon Trudell were fourth place finishers for the Panthers.
The Spartans’ two seniors, Hantsbarger and Sawyer Wilson, both put together strong performances in Saturday’s meet.
Hantsbarger won his opener 15-1, then beat a state-ranked opponent, Osceola’s Drew Willeman, 7-2 in the semifinals. Hantsbarger and Baldwin-Woodville’s Jordan Bonte, both ranked, met in the 126-pound finals. Bonte was able to score a 4-2 victory. Somerset coach Ali Peterson said he wouldn’t be surprised to see them meet in the finals again at this Saturday’s regional meet. Peterson said he thought Hantsbarger was very close to turning the match against Bonte in his favor and they are looking at what they can do better.
Wilson took third place at 285 pounds, winning three of his four matches. His only loss came in the semifinals against Ellsworth’s Logan Peterson, who won the MBC title. All three of Wilson’s victories came on pins.
Somerset will host the Division 2 regional tournament this Saturday, beginning at 10:30 a.m. Teams competing in the meet are Amery, Baldwin-Woodville, Bloomer-Colfax, Luck-Frederic-Grantsburg, Siren, St. Croix Central and Somerset.