An early look at WIAA playoff possibilities

The WIAA tournament season is coming up fast.
Wrestling will be the first of the area winter sports to begin its tournament season, with regional tournaments on Saturday, Feb. 15. The rest of the winter sports will play their opening tournament dates soon after.
Here’s a look at some of the tournament brackets involving teams from our area.

Boys Basketball – Division 1
Marshfield appears to have the inside track for the top seed in the Division 1 regional tournament bracket. Marshfield is 9-4 and 5-1 in the Wisconsin Valley Conference. Marshfield a win over Hudson, which right now has the strongest case for the second seed.
The bottom three seeds will likely be Chippewa Falls, Superior and Wausau West. That leaves Eau Claire Memorial, Eau Claire North and D.C. Everest to battle for the 3-5 seeds. Memorial already has a win posted against Everest, putting the Old Abes in a good position to lock up the third seed.

Boys Basketball – Division 2
This is another bracket where the top and bottom seeds are crystal clear. Big Rivers Conference leader Rice Lake (10-2 overall) is a lock for the top seed. New Richmond, after losing to River Falls on Monday, will take the bottom spot in the five-team configuration. Menomonie (9-4 overall) and Ashland (8-3 overall) are in a close battle for the second and third spots. River Falls would need a couple upsets in the next three weeks to move up from the fourth slot.

Boys Basketball – Division 3
Coaches better bring their coffee for this seeding meeting, it could get complicated. Prescott and Somerset, the two Middle Border Conference leaders, are in solid position for the top two spots. Which of them gets the top spot will likely be answered when they play on Feb. 4 in Somerset.
There are any number of teams who could fit in next. Barron is 6-1 in the Heart O’North Conference, but the Bears lost to St. Croix Falls. The Saints match Barron’s 8-4 overall record, but lost to Amery. Ellsworth has played well in the MBC with a 5-2 record, but outside the conference, the Panthers are 1-4. Amery is the exact opposite. Amery hasn’t beaten anyone in the MBC, but the Warriors are 5-1 outside the conference, including wins over Hayward, St. Croix Falls and Spooner. Amery is the team that could really muck up the bracketing.
Northwestern is another team that should squeeze into this pack somewhere. The Tigers are 7-4, but have already lost to Bloomer.
The teams in the next tier appear to be Baldwin-Woodville, Hayward and Spooner. Osceola and St. Croix Central will likely be the bottom two teams.

Girls Basketball – Division 1
This is a top-heavy bracket with three powerhouses at the top of the list. Superior (12-2), D.C. Everest (14-1) and Chippewa Falls (11-2) are all outstanding teams. Superior should get the top seed, with wins over Everest and Chippewa Falls. Superior’s only losses are to Minnesota schools. The tough call will be between Everest and CF, because they aren’t scheduled to face each other.
Eau Claire Memorial looks to have the inside track for the fourth seed at 8-3, with Eau Claire North, Marshfield and Wausau West closely packed behind them. Hudson looks locked into the eighth seed.

Girls Basketball – Division 2
New Richmond and Rice Lake should get the top two seeds in this bracket, but it will come down to the coaches’ interpretation as to which gets the top seed. New Richmond has the better record (8-1 in Middle Border, 12-2 overall), but Rice Lake (2-4 in Big Rivers, 6-7 overall) won the head-to-head matchup. New Richmond does have a win over Chippewa Falls, which none of the BRC teams in the bracket can claim. River Falls and Ashland appear to be the third and fourth best teams, though this is another tough call because Rice Lake is the only team in the bracket which Ashland faces. Menomonie (1-10) is a clear fifth seed.

Girls Basketball – Division 3
There should be an intriguing argument for the top spot in this bracket. Baldwin-Woodville and St. Croix Falls are both undefeated. Getting the top spot is critical, because Hayward (12-1) will likely be the third seed and the Hurricanes will be a much tougher semifinal opponent than whatever team gets the fourth seed.
Barron (5-2 in Heart O’North, 8-3 overall) has the edge for the fourth spot.
The battle for the fifth through ninth seeds will take some sorting out. Amery (5-3 in MBC, 6-5) has the best record. St. Croix Central (2-6 in Dunn-St. Croix, 5-7), Prescott (2-6 in MBC, 4-8) Somerset (2-6 in MBC, 3-10) and Northwestern (2-5 in Heart O’North, 3-8) all have hopes of a first-round home game.
Even deciding on the order of the bottom three teams will be interesting, with Ellsworth (0-7, 1-10), Spooner (1-6, 1-7) and Osceola (0-6, 0-12) having very little they can use to argue their case.

Boys Hockey
Hudson has clearly earned the top seed in this bracket with its 12-1-2 record. New Richmond and Somerset have moved ahead of the pack for the second and third seeds. Which one gets the top seed? This Thursday’s game in New Richmond should decide that.
Superior (9-10) is having an off year, but that still shouldn’t drop the Spartans anywhere lower than fourth in this bracket.
Menomonie and River Falls are the leading contenders for the fifth seed. They play on Saturday and that could answer which team gets the higher seed.
It’s hard to gauge the WSFLG (Siren co-op) and Northwest Icemen (Spooner co-op). WSFLG is 8-6 and Spooner is 9-4, but they have the two weakest schedules in the bracket. They should battle for the seventh and eighth seeds, with Baldwin-Woodville and Amery getting the final two slots in the bracket.

Girls Hockey
Arguments between the three top teams in this bracket should make for an interesting seeding process.
River Falls (13-6-1), Hayward (13-5) and Hudson (10-5-2) can all make strong cases that they deserve the top seed. To compound the issue, they’ve all got a loss against one of the other top contenders. River Falls beat Hayward, but lost to Hudson. Hudson lost to Hayward, but has a win against River Falls. Hayward beat Hudson, but lost to River Falls. What may prove the difference is that Hayward has two losses against teams in the sectional bracket. The Hurricanes also suffered a loss against New Richmond.
WSFLG, by virtue of a win over Superior, looks like the fourth seed, with Superior getting the next spot.
Sorting out the bottom three spots in this Feb. 9 seeding will be tricky too. New Richmond (5-10), Eau Claire (4-12-2) and Chippewa Falls-Menomonie (3-12) are in a similar situation as the top three, all with a win and loss against the other teams. New Richmond and Eau Claire are set to play next Monday. The winner of that game has solid footing for the sixth spot.

Wrestling – Division 1 sectional at Wausau West
The Wausau West sectional bracket is packed with top teams, including three in the top 10 of this week’s Wisconsin Wrestling Online state rankings. Merrill is currently ranked second in Division 1, Menomonie sixth and Hudson 10th. Add in Stevens Point, which is honorable mention, and the competition should be ferocious in this sectional meet. A number of teams that aren’t ranked (Chippewa Falls, New Richmond, River Falls, Marshfield, Wausau West, Eau Claire North) bring in wrestlers with state experience or are highly ranked this season.

Wrestling – Division 2 sectional at Amery
Talk about a stacked sectional meet. Ellsworth and Amery are the marquee teams, but it’s easy to argue that this is the deepest Division 2 sectional tournament in the state. That includes six wrestlers currently ranked first in the state at their weight (Hunter Marko, Amery at 120, Jens Lantz, Ellsworth at 126, Robert Csukker, Stanley-Boyd at 138, Johnny Chamberlain, Chetek at 152, Gable Frandsen, Ellsworth at 160 and Joe Rademacher, St. Croix Falls at 195). Ellsworth’s Logan Kemmerer at 170 and Somerset’s Max Praschak at 182 are ranked second in their weights. In many weights there are a handful of ranked wrestlers. Three of the top five wrestlers at 160 are in this sectional and four of the top wrestlers at 152 are in line to compete at the Amery sectional meet.

Wrestling – Division 3 sectional at Osseo-Fairchild
The Dunn-St. Croix Conference schools are our areas only Division 3 teams but they pack plenty of punch in Division 3. Spring Valley-Elmwood is the top-ranked Division 3 team in the state and Boyceville is ranked third.
This sectional is loaded with ranked wrestlers, especially in the lower weights. Three of the top five D3 106-pounders are in this sectional, so are four of the top seven 113-pounders.