Spiced by a number of upsets, the New Richmond wrestling team was able to advance seven Tigers through the action at the Division 1 Hudson Wrestling Regional Tournament on Saturday.
With their strong performance, the Tigers were able to place fourth in Saturday’s team competition.
New Richmond freshman Bode Gabriel advanced as a regional champion at 120 pounds. Seniors Brandon Dennis, Cayden Henning and Ryan Muller were all second place finishers. Sam LaPean and Tyler Dennis advanced as third place finishers and Luke Fox advanced by placing fourth.
The Tigers defeated numerous higher seeds during the regional tournament, where the top four wrestlers move on. When they compete at the Division 1 sectional tournament at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, only the top two wrestlers in each weight class advance to state. Tiger coach Jeff Swanson said the competition in every weight class at the sectional meet is excellent. He said the only focus for each Tiger will be the opponent immediately ahead of them.
“You start looking at brackets and you’re looking for trouble,” Swanson said. “Our kids battle. You’ll never count us out.”
The Tigers have a history of pulling off upsets at the regional and sectional tournaments. They achieved a number of upsets at Hudson and Swanson said he thinks there are opportunities for upsets at the sectional meet.
The upsets at regionals started with Gabriel at 120. Gabriel beat a quality opponent from Hudson in the semifinals. In the title match, he faced top seed James Hampton of River Falls. Gabriel won on a 9-6 decision to improve his record to 31-10.
“It’s the best he’s wrestled all year, by far,” Swanson said.
Gabriel is slated to face D.C. Everest sophomore Easton Block (15-19) in the opening round of the sectional meet.
Brandon Dennis (34-8) was seeded second and he reached the finals by handily putting away opponents from Menomonie and Hudson. In the 138-pound finals, Dennis was pinned by Vito Massa of River Falls in the final seconds of the match. Dennis will open the sectional meet against Stevens Point junior Joe Pecore (14-8). The winner of that match will likely draw Marshfield standout Gabe Pugh (37-3) in the semifinals.
Tyler Dennis (28-12) opened action at 145 pounds with a quick pin. In the semifinals he suffered one of the Tigers’ toughest losses all day, losing in an ultimate tie-breaker to Miles Longsdorf of River Falls. Dennis then won the third place match against Daniel Moucha of Chippewa Falls, 7-6. Dennis will open the sectional against D.C. Everest junior Payton Vaughn (28-5).
Henning (28-12) was seeded third at 152 pounds but ended up in second place. He opened with an 8-0 win against Menomonie. In the semifinals, Henning beat second seed Ethan Johnson of Eau Claire North, 8-2. Henning put up a good battle in the finals, but lost to top seed Tyler Haydon of River Falls, 12-6. Henning will face another D.C. Everest wrestler at sectionals, opening against Freddy Lehrke (17-5).
LaPean knocked off the third and fourth seeds to take third place at 170 pounds on Saturday. He pinned the fourth seed in the opening round. After a loss in the semifinals, LaPean came back to pin the third seed from Eau Claire Memorial in the third place match. LaPean (13-14) will open the sectional by facing Rhinelander’s Walker Hartman (33-7).
Muller did some of his best wrestling of the season to finish second at 195. He knocked off the third seed from Eau Claire Memorial 10-5. He then lost in the semis, before beating the fourth seed from Superior in the third place 11-0. Muller moved up to second place when the top seed from Menomonie did an injury default in the second place match. Muller (18-18) will open the sectional against Merrill senior Walker Bathke (29-12).
Fox (3-6) opened his regional by winning against Cody Kwak of Menomonie, 16-11. That assured Fox fourth place in the five-man bracket. Fox draws one of the best wrestlers in the area at the sectional, D.C. Everest junior Orion Boe (39-1).