Western Wisconsin doesn’t get the state-wide attention it deserves as a hotbed for top wrestling teams and individuals.
A look at the current Wisconsin Wrestling Online state rankings shows just how good the wrestling is in our area.
We’ll focus mainly on the three area conferences: the Big Rivers, Middle Border and Dunn-St. Croix Conferences. Among those three conferences, eight wrestlers are ranked #1 in the state in their weight class. The talent runs deeper than that. There are three area wrestlers ranked #2 in their state weight bracket and six more who are ranked #3 in their state brackets.
Here is a compilation, by weight class, of some the premier wrestlers in western Wisconsin.
The competition here begins with Glenwood City’s Riley Knops, the defending Division 3 103-pound state champion. He’s ranked number one in his class again this year. Osceola’s John Olson has made big strides this year and it’s recognized by his being ranked third among Division 2 106-pounders. Drew Wheeler of St. Croix Falls and David Walker of Spring Valley are ranked 10th in Division 2 and Division 3, respectively.
Our area has a #1, #2 and #3 ranked wrestler at 113 pounds and this still isn’t the strongest weight class among the lightweights.
The #1 ranking goes to Ellsworth’s Jens Lantz, who won the Division 2 state title at 103 pounds last year with a 40-2 record. Lantz is one of the best pure wrestlers in the state, regardless of weight class.
Chippewa Falls has Quinn Miracle ranked #2 in Division 1. Prescott’s Josh Farr is ranked #3 in Division 3. There are several more wrestlers from the area who are ranked or are given honorable mention status.
The highest achieving weight class in the area? How about the two top-ranked wrestlers at 120 pounds as a worthy choice. Chippewa Falls dynamo Izzy Balsiger, the defending 112-champion, certainly deserves that status. So does Spring Valley’s Brady Webb, who lost the state championship in double overtime last year and doesn’t look like he’ll let that happen again this year.
New Richmond’s Shane Blackman and Ellsworth’s Brad Cain are also ranked 120-pounders.
The Middle Border and Dunn-St. Croix both have strong classes here. The MBC has three ranked wrestlers, Amery’s Connor Friese (D2-sixth), Somerset’s Bobby LeRoy (D2-seventh) and Ellsworth’s Brent Stockwell (D2-12th). In the DSC it’s a Glenwood City-Boyceville clash, with Bulldog Bryor Hellman ranked seventh and Hilltopper Alex Holmquist ranked eighth in Division 3.
A defending state champion and another state placewinner make the 132-pound class special. Ellsworth’s Roarke Langer is ranked #1 in Division 2 after winning the 125-pound state title last year. Glenwood City’s Adam Holmquist currently is ranked third in Division 3 after placing fifth at state last year.
There are four top-five wrestlers in the area here, including a defending state champion. Glenwood City’s Austin Moe was the D3 state champion at 130 pounds last year and he’s the top-ranked D3 wrestler in the state this year. Durand’s Andrew Hartman, who is currently out with a knee injury, is ranked third in Division 2. Somerset’s Gabe Flandrick is ranked right behind him. Clear Lake’s Erik Ullrich is ranked fifth in Division 3.
A couple fast-rising younger wrestlers have moved near the top of the 145-pound rankings. Baldwin-Woodville’s Tyler Weyer, who placed third in the 140-pound bracket at state in Division 2 last year, is ranked second this year. Boyceville’s Josh Cormican has moved up to third in Division 3. Amery’s Eduardo Benitez, a quality wrestler for several years, is ranked ninth in Division 2.
Hudson’s Kolya Hawksford and St. Croix Central’s Carl Moll are both ranked fifth in their classes, Hawksford in D1 and Moll in D2. Hawksford starts a string of four straight classes where Hudson wrestlers are ranked and Moll does the same thing for Central.
Hudson’s Tanner Owens has been beating tough competition all season and that’s earned him the #4 spot in the Division 1 rankings. Amery’s Gabe Paulson is another wrestler who looks like he’s on a mission, earning the #5 spot in Division 2. He’ll have plenty of competition, because Somerset’s Austin Bushinger (#8) and St. Croix Central’s Cody Nyhagen (#9) are also major threats in Division 2. There’s another Boyceville-Glenwood City connection in Division 3, with Boyceville’s Danny Hayes (#8) just ahead of Hilltopper Isaac Tuttle (#9).
Division 2 is primed for a showdown somewhere along the tournament trail. Bloomer’s Levi Nayes is ranked #4, St. Croix Central’s Matt Smith is ranked #6 and St. Croix Falls’ Jake Rademacher is ranked #8. Any of the three could come out as a sectional champion.
Somerset’s Haydon Dvorak finished second at state last year and he’s been unbeatable since he moved down to 182 pounds this season. He’s ranked #1 in Division 2 for that reason. Joe Rademacher of St. Croix Falls (D2) and Brett Blaser of Boyceville (D3) are both ranked seventh and both have all the tools to earn a ticket to state.
Ellsworth’s Parker Hines finished second at state last year in the Division 2 189-pound bracket. He has very little margin for error, because Neillsville’s Dan Schoen finished third in the same bracket. They are currently the top two ranked wrestlers in Division 2. Eau Claire Memorial’s Alistair Keys has been putting up some impressive wins, earning him the #3 ranking in Division 1.
Undefeated Marcus Malecek of St. Croix Central is looking to improve on his fourth place finish at state last year. He’s dedicated himself to keep advancing his skills, which has him ranked second in Division 2. The only person ranked in front of Malecek is defending state champion Riley Delzer of Oconto Falls.
There’s an interesting possibility in the Division 1 tournament trail, with Superior’s Ben Regner ranked ninth and River Falls’ Tyson Bystrom ranked 10th.
All the ranked wrestlers in the area are out of Division 2. Hayward’s Ray Quagon (#5), Unity’s Alex Lennartson (#6) and St. Croix Central’s Lauden Wood (#9) all have differing wrestling styles, so any tournament matchups should be interesting.