Wrestling fans should find a great deal of entertainment in this Saturday’s Middle Border Conference Wrestling Tournament, which will be held in New Richmond.
Ellsworth had its closest call in years in the MBC dual meet season, beating Amery 32-28 to decide the dual match title. The battle for the conference tournament title could be just as close.
Heading into the meet, it appears there should be at least two or three quality wrestlers in each weight class in the tournament.
Here’s a breakdown of each weight class, though there will be some jockeying of rosters before the final rosters are set on Saturday morning. Wrestling is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday.
106 Pounds: Amery freshman Hunter Marko is one of the top-ranked 106-pounders in the state and he went through the MBC dual season without a loss. He’s a clear favorite, though Osceola’s Mitch Hustad (6-1) and New Richmond’s Seth Leavens (5-2) could also make some noise here.
113 Pounds and 120 Pounds: Much of the 113- and 120-pound intrigue is based on where Ellsworth will use defending state champion Jens Lantz. In either class, Lantz will be the favorite. His best competition will likely be found if he moves down to 113, where Amery’s Andrew Smith went 7-0 in his conference duals. Another variable in these classes is where New Richmond uses junior Shane Blackman. His only conference loss was to Lantz, but he missed the last three rounds of matches due to injury.
126 Pounds: New Richmond’s Derek Dowd and Prescott’s Alex Stuhl both went through the MBC dual season with 6-1 records and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them tangle in the finals. But Amery’s Johnny Benitez is coming on fast and he could also end up in this championship match.
132 Pounds: New Richmond’s Abe Anderson and Ellsworth’s Brad Cain look to be the leading candidates to get into the finals here. Durand’s Hunter Adler went 4-2 in the MBC dual season and he’s the Panthers’ best chance to get a wrestler into the finals this year. Amery’s Bennett Paulson could also be a threat here.
138 Pounds: Somerset’s Bobby LeRoy and Ellsworth’s Dan Langer appear to be on a collision course to meet in the 138 finals. Langer could also have Langer at 145 and slide Tristen Mueller into this class.
145 Pounds: Baldwin-Woodville’s Tyler Weyer may be the most clear-cut favorite in the tournament. Weyer has manhandled his competition all season and there’s every reason to believe that will continue on Saturday. His best competition will likely come from Prescott’s Troy Urman.
152 Pounds: Amery’s Mitch Nichols has improved steadily through his career. As a senior, he went 6-1 and has a great chance at a conference title.
160 Pounds: This could be one of the most entertaining and talented classes of the tournament. Somerset’s Gabe Flandrick and Ellsworth’s Gable Frandsen are both standouts. The questions come on where Ellsworth will use its top wrestlers. Ellsworth’s Logan Kemmerer has been out the past month with a knee injury. If he’s good to go on Saturday, he will likely step in here, causing a ripple effect of Ellsworth wrestlers changing weight classes. Ellsworth could also use Max Peterson here, but he’s more likely to drop to 152 pounds.
170 Pounds: Whether Ellsworth has Frandsen or Henry Holdorf here, they are the tournament favorite. Somerset’s Max Praschak and Amery’s Chaz Hegna are the best possibilities to be the other wrestler competing in the 170-pound finals.
182 Pounds: Again, this is a class Ellsworth should control. Holdorf looks like a good bet here, with Baldwin-Woodville’s Joe Nawrocki a possibility to make the finals.
195 Pounds: Amery’s Eli Newton and Baldwin-Woodville’s Ben Mikla have both put together strong seasons at 195. Ellsworth has several options to plug in here, with Jacob Murphy being the most likely candidate.
220 Pounds: Amery’s Kenny Gates and Osceola’s Victor Lowney have both had breakout seasons and neither last lost an MBC bout. If they reach the finals, this could be quite an action-packed match.
285 Pounds: There is good depth in the 285-pound class this season. Osceola’s Thor Reimer went through the conference season without a loss. He’s a big, physically imposing wrestler. B-W senior Coleman Roskam is more of a technician, but was able to amass a 6-1 record in the conference this season. Ellsworth’s Brody Kemmerer is another wrestler heavyweight who is a threat to come out at the top of this bracket.