Wrestling sectionals should be drama packed

Whether it is in Division 1 or Division 2, the local WIAA wrestling sectional tournaments on Saturday should keep fans on the edge of their seats.
The Division 1 sectional will be wrestled at Marshfield, starting at 10 a.m. Somerset will be the site for the Division 2 sectional meet, with an 11 a.m. start time.
Here are previews of those tournaments.

Division 1 Sectional at Marshfield
From the New Richmond regional, you’ll see lots of Menomonie and Hudson wrestlers leading the state contenders. From the eastern regional held in Merrill, you will see a whole lot of Wausau wrestlers leading the state contenders.

106 Pounds: Wausau West senior Bee Lor (42-2) and Eau Claire North freshman Justin Pederson come in as the regional champions. They’ll be tough to beat, but D.C. Everest sophomore Manning Denk will make it tough for both of them.

113 Pounds: New Richmond junior Shane Blackman is the major favorite after reaching state last season. He’s 28-3 and he’s the only wrestler in the bracket who doesn’t have double-digit losses this season.

120 Pounds: This weight class is packed. Quinn Miracle (33-3) of Chippewa Falls was a state placewinner last year. Wausau East’s Nick Diny (39-3) was at state last year too. Stevens Point junior Kolten Pope (28-3) will be a threat, and there are several other strong candidates.

126 Pounds: Nobody wants to mess with undefeated Colen Baine of Wausau West, who won the 120-pound state championship last year. Merrill senior Garret Schmelling and Hudson freshman Sawyer Massie have a good chance to get the second state bid out of this bracket.

132 Pounds: When wrestling fans list the names of the top grapplers in the state, Joe Umlauf’s name often gets mentioned. The Wausau West junior is undefeated and ready to take the next step after finishing second in the Division 1 126-pound state bracket last year. Menomonie sophomore Logan Schlough (39-3) will make sure Umlauf gets a good test at the sectional meet.

138 Pounds: This is one of the wide-open brackets. Leading the pack is Wausau West senior Brook Whitehead (38-5), but a number of possibilities could get the state berths here.

145 Pounds: While D.C. Everest sophomore Joe Ziolkowski brings the best record (42-2) into the bracket, he’ll have his hands full trying to get out of the sectional. Hudson’s Austin Koski (33-7) is a strong threat too. New Richmond senior Abe Anderson has state experience and Menomonie freshman Mason Stokke is coming on fast.

152 Pounds: This is another class where Wausau West is the favorite. This time it’s junior Travis Hettinga, who is 40-2. He was fourth at state at 145 pounds a year ago. Eau Claire North’s Matt Schroeder and Menomonie’s Cole Bartz could also make some noise here.

160 Pounds: There’s quality and depth in this class. Hudson’s Dima Hawksford (35-3) has had a season worthy of a state appearance. So has Merrill’s Mason Reinhardt (41-2), who took fifth at state at 145 pounds last year. Those plans could be upset by Eau Claire North’s Deion Sonsalla (23-2) or Wausau West’s Jared Mataczynski (36-9).

171 Pounds: Merrill junior David Pophal (40-3) has the inside track for a state berth. Every other wrestler in the class has a minimum of eight losses.

182 Pounds: Hudson’s Derek Schindler (37-1) has shredded the area opposition this season and he’s in a great position to continue that success at the sectional level. Merrill junior Ben Hintze (38-6) could meet Schindler in the finals.

195 Pounds: Senior Eric Peissig (42-0) has been the leader for Menomonie all season after reaching state at 170 pounds last year. His success should continue in the sectional meet. Rhinelander’s Connor Johnson (37-2) and Merrill’s Alex Klug (40-4) might be slugging it out for second place.

220 Pounds: Merrill’s Tyler Schmidt (38-0) has unfinished business at state after going one-and-done there last year. Hudson junior Eliot Motu and Menomonie junior DJ Oas have a chance to get the other state bid.

285 Pounds: This is an intriguing bracket with several strong candidates. Menomonie’s Jared Baldwin (38-4) and Wausau West’s Ryan Fay (36-9) are the regional titlists. Rhinelander’s Bryce Bilogan and Hudson’s Mathias Tobin (32-10) could pull off an upset here.

Division 2 Sectional at Somerset
Ellsworth and Amery reached the team sectional championship match on Tuesday and those Middle Border Conference powers should have plenty of wrestlers in the hunt for state tournament bids on Saturday.

106 Pounds: Expect the same finals battle that occurred in the Amery regional. Amery freshman Hunter Marko and St. Croix Falls junior Drew Wheeler are the class of this weight bracket. It would not be surprising to see both these wrestlers on the podium at the state meet.

113 Pounds: There is good depth in this weight class. Osceola’s Mitch Hustad, Rice Lake’s Jimmy Smith and Amery’s Andrew Smith all have the ability to win the sectional title. But don’t count out Stanley-Boyd’s Brett Benson or Bloomer’s Brady Simonson.

120 Pounds: Ellsworth defending state champion Jens Lantz sets the bar for this weight class. He’s in the handful of wrestlers who are the best high school wrestlers in the state. Leading the competition will be Neillsville’s Jared Boon, Rice Lake’s Luke Schroeder and St. Croix Falls’ James Klassen.

126 Pounds: This is another class with a clear-cut favorite. It seems like Neillsville’s Phillip Opelt has been a top contender for most of the past decade. At 42-1, Opelt looks ready to make a big splash at Madison. Medford senior Gunnar Peterson is another entrant who should be able to punch a ticket to Madison.

132 Pounds: Stanley-Boyd senior Robert Csukker is another veteran wrestler who is a threat to be a state placewinner every year. The rest of this weight class is wide open. One of the great things about sectional meets are the wide open classes like this, where there are opportunities for young wrestlers to step up and make a name for themselves.

138 Pounds: This is a class that has several legitimate contenders. Somerset senior Bobby LeRoy leads the group and Ashland’s Travis Oliphant is another wrestler capable of reaching the state podium. Ellsworth’s Dan Langer and Luck’s Tristan Brewer also have the credentials to make it to state.

145 Pounds: Baldwin-Woodville senior Tyler Weyer is among the elite wrestlers in the area and among the 145-pounders in the state. Chetek’s Johnny Chamberlain has come on fast this season and Amery senior Mitch Nichols has put together an excellent season.

152 Pounds: Here’s another class with wide open possibilities. Ellsworth’s Logan Kemmerer is coming back fast from an injury, as is St. Croix Central’s Brian Gibb. Stanley-Boyd’s Ronny Ponick will be a factor, as will Medford’s Aaric Spencer.

160 Pounds: This may be the deepest weight class in the Somerset sectional. Somerset’s Gabe Flandrick finished second at state last year. His opening draw is St. Croix Central’s Cody Nyhagen, who has lost just twice this season. Ellsworth’s Gable Frandsen, Neillsville’s Mitchell Pohlman and Ashland’s Cory Kontny are also state caliber wrestlers. Several top wrestlers won’t make it out of this bracket.

170 Pounds: Abbotsford-Colby senior Zach Peissig is the leading contender in a very balanced class. St. Croix Central’s Carl Moll and Ellsworth’s Henry Holdorf have put together big seasons too. Somerset sophomore Max Praschak is a dark horse after tearing through the competition at the Amery regional.

182 Pounds: Undefeated St. Croix Falls junior Joe Rademacher is a machine, but he doesn’t have any guarantees in this class. St. Croix Central senior Kyle Aaby, Melrose-Mindoro’s Danny Dobbs and Spooner’s Lucas Hagberg have 30-plus wins and are legitimate state threats.

195 Pounds: This is a class with no clear favorite. Every entrant has at least seven losses. Don’t be surprised if Ellsworth senior Jacob Murphy emerges; so could Hayward’s Austin Egge.

220 Pounds: The opposite of the 195 class. This bracket is filled with state-capable wrestlers. That group is led by undefeated Austin Roberts of Rice Lake. Aaron Harder of Medford, Kenny Gates of Amery, Dylan Kimber of Chetek-Prairie Farm and Dillan Bunde of Black River Falls are full capable of getting to state and having an impact there.

285 Pounds: Medford senior Nick Berger (42-2) leads a class where the wrestlers have a 60-pound weight range, or more. Chetek-Prairie Farm’s Cole LaLiberty, St. Croix Central’s Austin Edison and Ellsworth’s Brody Kemmerer show the variety of shapes and sizes seen in this class.