Hudson will send eight wrestlers to this Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 sectional tournament in Wausau while River Falls advanced six individuals and New Richmond qualified two from last Saturday’s regional meet at Eau Claire North.
The Raiders had five individual champions on the day and three River Falls’ wrestlers claimed regional titles while New Richmond’s Tyler Dennis earned an individual title at 152 pounds.
Hudson finished first in the regional team standings with 238 points and River Falls was second with 191 while New Richmond placed fourth with 129.
Hudson coach Chris Hansen said he was pleasantly surprised by the Raiders’ first-place team finish.
“To be honest, I don't think we were even the favorites as I had River Falls winning a close one,” he said. “Without Ryan Rambo, Erik Stubbendick and Holden Leutkens (three starters out), it seemed pretty hard for us to pull it off. Turns out we won by a remarkable 47 points, which really says a lot about how the kids overachieved.”
Notably, four of the Raiders five regional champions are brothers-- Riley and Ben Steltzner, and Peter and Jacob Hansen.
Normally the top four finishers from the regional advance to the sectional tournament, but this year due to COVID-19, only the top two moved on.
Riley Steltzner clinched the 126 pound title by pinning Superior’s Tucker Johnson in 4 minutes, 53 seconds, while Ben Steltzner pinned Menomonie’s Josh Boyette in 3:25 in the 195-pound title match.
Peter Hansen and River Falls’ Tyler Haydon both advanced after Hansen took a 3-1 decision from Haydon in the 160 pound finals, while Jacob Hansen took an 8-2 decision from Eau Claire Memorial’s Ethan Schermitzler in the 170 pound title match.
River Falls Vito Massa and Hudson’s Hank Gierke squared off in the 182 pound finals to both earn spots at this week’s sectional before Massa pinned Gierke in 2:55 to claim the individual crown. Hudson’s AJ Henn also moved on with a second place finish at 113 pounds while Matthew Feia placed second at 132.
In addition to Massa’s title at 182 for the Wildcats, Travis Moelter earned an 8-2 decision over Menomonie’s Brayten Casey to take first at 106 pounds, and James Hampton pinned Superior’s Henry Huber in 3:31 in the 138 pound finals.
The 152 pound title came down to New Richmond’s Dennis and River Falls’ Miles Longsdorf, where Dennis took a 5-3 decision. Owen Larson also advanced for River Falls with a second-place finish at 145 pounds while New Richmond’s Adam Stener will join Dennis at sectionals after placing second at 285.
This is the third regional championship for Hudson’s seniors but unlike past seasons there won’t be a traditional sectional team tournament this year due to the WIAA’s COVID-19 restrictions. However, there will be a state team tournament, whose qualifiers will be determined by each team’s sectional scores based on the performance of the sectional qualifiers during the sectional meet.
Another modification is that the state individual tournament will be cut down to one day and begin with quarterfinal matches, making this Saturday in Wausau basically a double sectional.
“What that basically means is the first two rounds of state will be at sectionals, if that makes sense,” Hansen said. “Another way to look at it is, the kids who advance the following week are not just state qualifiers, they will already be state place winners. That makes it tough but at least there is a state tournament.”