Our area has the chance to have another run of success at the WIAA state wrestling championships, which start this Thursday at the Kohl Center in Madison.
Here is a rundown on some of the top contenders from our area in each of the three divisions at the state championships.
Chippewa Falls leads the area Division 1 teams with four state qualifiers. Defending state champion Izzy Balsiger (43-0 at 120 pounds) has been unstoppable this year and that easily could carry through to the state tournament. Quinn Miracle and Grant Schindler are also threats to win several matches.
Hudson got two proven veterans into the state tournament. Tanner Owens at 160 pounds and Kolya Hawksford at 152 pounds both have the ability to advance through several levels of their state brackets.
New Richmond advances sophomore Shane Blackman and junior Abe Anderson into the state tournament. The bracket lays out well for Blackman, the sectional champion at 113 pounds. Anderson draws a tough opponent from Hartford Union in the opening round.
River Falls will be represented again at state by Tyson Bystrom. Bystrom should be evenly matched with Oshkosh West senior Justin Karkula. If Bystrom wins his opener, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him reach the semifinals.
Menomonie heavyweight Connor Hanson was the sectional champion and he appears destined to reach the semifinals at state. Menomonie’s Eric Peissig isn’t so lucky. His opening draw at Madison is defending state champion Zac Benitz of Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln.
Eau Claire Memorial’s Alistair Keys has only been beat once all season. He looks to be on a collision course with Hamilton’s Mike Konvalinka in the 195-pound state semifinals.
It would not be surprising at all to see several state champions come out of the Osceola Division 2 sectional meet. Ellsworth has several wrestlers with golden opportunities to make it to the top of the state podium. Sophomore Jens Lantz was a state champion at 103 last year and he looks to be a clear-cut favorite in the Division 2 113 state bracket this year. Ellsworth’s Roarke Langer won state at 125 pounds last year. He’s the leading contender to take the 132-pound title this year. Ellsworth’s Parker Hines took second at 189 pounds last year. He looks to have a great chance to reach the finals again, though there are three wrestlers with one loss each who will be battling to get through from the other half of the 195-pound bracket.
Somerset’s Haydon Dvorak is a leading contender to reach the 182-state finals. He placed second at 171 pounds last year. The two wrestlers who finished third and fourth in the 171-pound bracket last year, Dusty Jentz of Belmont-Platteville and Marcus Hudson of Delavan-Darien, are in the other half of the 182-pound state bracket.
Baldwin-Woodville’s Tyler Weyer is a leading contender to reach the 145-pound Division 2 finals. If he gets that far, he’ll likely end up battling undefeated Seth Liegel of River Valley, who took second place at 140 pounds last year. Weyer was the third place finisher in last year’s 140-pound state bracket.
St. Croix Central senior Marcus Malecek is shooting for a 220-pound state championship after placing fourth in the 215-pound state bracket last year. The undefeated Malecek could meet up with defending 215-pound state champion Riley Delzer of Oconto Falls in the state finals.
It’s not out of the question that three wrestlers from the Osceola sectional could also place highly in the 170-pound bracket at state. St. Croix Falls senior Jake Rademacher won the sectional, raising his record to 43-1. Bloomer’s Levi Nayes took second and stands at 34-3. Ellsworth’s Gable Frandsen took third at the sectional, but he could make a run at state too.
Neillsville senior Damien Luchterhand is unbeaten at 152 pounds this year. He could run up against defending 140-pound state champion Lucas Lambrecht of Sheboygan Falls in the state finals.
Area teams like Spring Valley, Glenwood City and Clear Lake could make a lot of noise in the Division 3 state tournament.
Glenwood City’s Riley Knops and Austin Moe are defending state champions. Don’t be surprised if both of them aren’t back in the state finals, Knops at 106 pounds and Moe at 138 pounds.
Clear Lake has several wrestlers with a chance to make an impact at state, led by Riley Anderson at 126 pounds and Alex Friendshuh at 220 pounds.
Spring Valley’s Brady Webb at 120 pounds and Prescott’s Josh Farr at 113 pounds are wrestlers who have finished near the top of the podium at state before and there is a good chance they will be up there again this year.