Wrestling fans can look at Ellsworth’s performance Saturday at their Division 2 regional in one of two ways: the Panthers failed to get out of regionals as a team for the first time since 2003, breaking a 14-year streak of going to state as a team – or that Ellsworth had 10 wrestlers place first or second and are moving on to sectionals, close to the 12 they sent last year and still an absurd number.
Ellsworth finished second as a team at the D2 regional in Arcadia with 269 team points, just 5.5 points behind first-place GET/Melrose-Mindoro. Head coach Mark Matzek said that while he was ultimately disappointed with the team result, he was proud of how his team wrestled.
“You have to realize that’s the No. 2 ranked team in the state (GET) that we lost to by one match, or a combination of three or four small things in a bunch of other matches. I’m disappointed with the outcome but I’m not disappointed with the effort,” he said. “These guys put together a good tournament and were excited, were intense, we lost but at the same time it was a fun atmosphere on Saturday. It’s what you hope every tournament could feel like. Our guys were really into it.”
“Bottom line I was happy with how the kids wrestled though on Saturday,” Matzek added. “I think we put together one of our best showings of the year on Saturday, it just wasn’t enough.”
The top two finishers in each weight class move on to the sectional tournament in Osceola on Saturday, Feb. 22. Ellsworth ended up with five champions, five runners-up and did not have a wrestler finish worse than fifth.
The champions were Cole Nelson at 120 pounds, Bailey Poellinger at 132, Charlie Stuhl at 138, Carter Huppert at 152 and Kyle Anschutz at 220. Runners-up were Cale Ekholm at 106, Braden Matzek at 145, Eli Rohl at 160, Ryan Matzek at 170 and Logan Peterson at 285.
Ian Matzek finished third at 195, Corey Poellinger (113) and Jack Voelker (126) both took fourth and Sam Allyn placed fifth at 182.
Matzek contrasted his team, which boasts seven sophomores in the lineup, to GET/MM’s senior heavy one and cited how far they have come since the beginning of the season.
“We had a lot of guys make huge gains from the beginning of the year. All those sophomores, I knew with our schedule and the expectations, that those sophomores were going to have a rough learning curve this year and I was going to see a lot of 20-10 records, and if you take a look at our records that’s exactly right around where they were,” he said.
“A guy like Eli Rohl, who has a losing record, goes on to take second place and scores 20 team points for us. He put us in a great position to take that tournament,” Matzek continued. “Or a guy like Braden Matzek who was on JV until Gunnar Allyn blew his shoulder out, and he steps in and was an eye-lash away from winning the tournament. Guys like that are just continuing to improve.”
The Spring Valley/Elmwood Cardinals had a great day in their D3 regional at Durand. They finished just 8.5 points out of first with 250 team points and sent 10 of their 14 wrestlers on to sectionals.
The Cardinals had three champions – Kaleb Casey at 106, Nate Fesenmaier at 170 and Travis Marty at 285 – while Clayton Neisinger (220), Trenten Marson (195), Brayden Wolf (160), Cross Hurlburt (152), Riley Merth (145), Max Schmitt (138) and Tristan Neisinger (120) were all runners-up.
Casey received a first-round bye, pinned Dominic Garland of Chetek-Weyerhaeuser/Prairie Farm in 16 seconds and then beat Ian Radintz of Glenwood City 3-0 in the championship. After a first-round bye at 170, Fesenmaier pinned Nick Hillman of Boyceville in 1:17 and Mitchell Fedie of Mondovi in 1:14. Marty received another first-round bye at 285 and pinned John Klefstad of Boyceville in 45 seconds. In the championship match, he beat Andrew Berends of Glenwood City by an 8-3 decision.
Other finishes were Tylor LaCriox in third at 113, Cole Steinmeyer (126) and Max Matthys (132) each took fourth and Paul Schwebach was third at 182.
Prescott wrestling also competed at the D2 Regional in Arcadia and finished fourth as a team with 104.5 points. The Cardinals have two wrestlers moving on to sectionals, Alex Iberg at 120 and Sam Murphy at 132. One notable absence was Joe Schulte at 220 pounds, who was one of the top-ranked wrestlers in the state at that weight class. Schulte was forced to miss regionals due to a medical issue.
Iberg went 2-1 with a bye in his four rounds. He received a first-round bye but then lost to Cole Nelson of Ellsworth in the semifinal by fall in 2:40. However, he beat Hector Hernandez of Arcadia by fal lin 1:13 in the third-place match and then was afforded a wrestleback against the second-place finisher, Carlyle Lyga of West Salem/Bangor, who he beat by fall in 5:24 to take second.
Murphy received a first-round bye at 132 and then beat Hunter Breaker of Osseo-Fairchild/Aug./Fall Creek by a 16-1 tech fall. In the championship match, Murphy was pinned by Bailey Poellinger of Ellsworth in 3:16. He then defended his second-place finish against Zach Servais of West Salem/Banger in a wrestleback and won by a 15-0 tech fall.
Other notable finishers for Prescott were Shawn Thomason who took third at 285, Isaiah Tulip was third at 152 and Ryan Pederson who also finished third at 113. Benny Olson (106), Shane Butler (126), Matthew Lynes (138) and Alex Holt (145) all took fifth.