Five wrestlers advance to sectional
Senior Tyson Bystrom won a championship at 195 pounds and five Wildcats advanced to the Saturday, Feb. 18, in Eau Claire as the Cats placed fifth as a team at the WIAA Division 1 regional tournament Feb. 11 in Chippewa Falls.
Bystrom pinned his first two opponents in the quarterfinals and semifinals before avenging a loss to Eau Claire Memorial's Alastair Keys at the Big Rivers/Dunn-St. Croix Challenge a week earlier in the finals. Bystrom earned a 2-1 overtime decision against Keys to win the 195 pound title.
Junior Nathan Kinneman, sophomore Zach Radkey-Pechacek, sophomore Spencer Langer and senior Elliot Weishaar also advanced to the sectional by finishing in the top four in their respective weight classes.
Wildcat head coach Joe Cudd said the Cats were able to field a solid lineup at the regional, which helped them to a fifth place finish at the eight-team tournament.
"We have been fighting through some ill-timed injuries towards the end of our season," he said. "We have had to have different guys step up and fill an open spot in our lineup. This shows how willing each of the wrestlers are to put it on the line and compete when they are given a chance. Our whole lineup wrestled very well on Saturday at regionals. We have been saying all year that we are getting better every day, and that was apparent in the way our guys wrestled. We were able to get five guys through to sectionals because we kept fighting in every one of our matches."
Kinneman took second at 120 pounds to advance, winning his first two matches with pins before falling to eventual champ Izzy Balsiger of Chippewa Falls in the finals. He had to face New Richmond's Austin Anderson to hold on to his runner-up spot and came through with a 10-3 decision.
Radkey-Pechacek took third at 126 pounds while Langer was fourth at 138 and Weishaar placed fourth at 182.
Senior Riley Larson came up just short of advancing by finishing fifth at 170 pounds, while sophomore Logan Johnson was sixth at 106, senior Billy Kucinski finished sixth at 132, sophomore Wyatt Qualls was sixth at 145 and senior Ellis Johnson placed sixth at 220.
Hudson won the regional title with a total of 225 points followed by BRC champion Chippewa Falls with 211. Menomonie was third with 205 followed by New Richmond with 163.5, River Falls with 106.5, Eau Claire Memorial with 99, Superior with 51 and Eau Claire North with 41.
Cudd said he's looking forward to this Saturday's sectional tournament at Eau Claire North.
"We are looking forward to this weekend because we welcome any opportunity for competition, because we are continuing to get better every day and with every competition," he said.