The postseason began in earnest for the Wildcat wrestling team last Saturday and senior Sebastian Larson responded by winning the 182 pound individual title at the Big Rivers Conference/Dunn-St. Croix Conference Challenge held at River Falls High School.
Seniors Zach Radkey-Pechacek, Darius Wright and Winston Bystrom finished second in their respective weight classes as the Wildcats finished sixth at the 12-team tournament with a total of 119.5 points.
Menomonie took the team title with 255.5 followed by Spring Valley/Elmwood with 241.5 and Hudson with 212.5.
“Our seniors wrestled very well, especially in the first two rounds,” River Falls coach Kevin Black said. “As a team, we're still learning how to wrestle and they're responding well to the training”
After receiving a bye in the opening round, Larson earned a technical fall over Chris Craft of Spring Valley/Elmwood in the quarterfinals before defeating Brian Gibb of St. Croix Central, 11-5 in the semifinals.
In the championship match against Menomonie’s Mark Bryant, Larson wrestled to a 3-1 decision to claim the 182 pound championship and improve to 39-1 on the season.
“Everyone is happy for Sebastian,” Black said. “He's had a great senior year so far. He was an all-conference football player, now he's an all-conference wrestler. Every high school wrestler has the conference tournament on their list of goals because the champions get their name on the wall. Sebastian has been a great leader and he's going to do big things when he leaves this place and our athletes are going to see his name daily and feel his legacy.”
Radkey-Pechacek pinned Nic Rausenberger of Mondovi in the 138 pound quarterfinals and beat Jacob Goodman of Menomonie, 5-1 in the semifinals before losing an 8-4 decision to Micah Johnson of Boyceville in the championship match.
At 152 pounds, Wright earned a technical fall over Nic Johnson of Hudson in the quarterfinals and a tech fall over Trent Smith of St. Croix Central in the semis before losing to Mason Stokke of Menomonie, 12-6, in the finals.
Bystrom posted an 1-1 major decision over Steven Loew of Eau Claire Memorial in his quarterfinal match at 160 pounds and beat Cal Johnson of Hudson, 8-6, in overtime in the semifinals before losing to Trent Miller of Spring Valley/Elmwood in the finals.
Mathew Williamson came back from a quarterfinal loss to beat Menomonie’s Jesse James, 5-3, in overtime in the fifth place match at 195 pounds, while Logan Peterson pinned Cody Hawkins of Chippewa Falls in 4:55 to take seventh place at 126 pounds.
Michael Cudd, at 132, and Logan Emholtz, at 170, both placed eighth in their respective weight classes.
Two nights earlier the Wildcats wrapped up the regular season with a 57-12 loss at Hudson. Larson won a 17-5 major decision over Trent Goplin at 182 pounds and Wright earned a technical fall victory over Nic Johnson at 152 while Radkey-Pechacek defeated C.J. Steiner, 1-0, at 138.
Black said the BRC/DSC Challenge was a great way to kick off the postseason.
“The conference tournament is the first in our climb to our peak and we're planning on being better each successive week moving forward,” he said. “The competition will get stiffer each week, so it's imperative that we feel the best we have all season at this time. Workouts will be shorter and more intense and we'll be focusing on timing and execution.”
The Wildcats will compete at the WIAA Division 1 Regional this Saturday, Feb. 15, in Chippewa Falls. The sectional tournament is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 22, at Wausau West.