Three wrestlers state bound
Senior Cam Loomis showed his hard work and perseverance paid off, junior Logan Cudd treated his opponents like rag dolls, and sophomore Tyson Bystrom fought his way back from a loss in the semifinals to finish second in his weight class.
All three Wildcats turned in state qualifying performances Saturday at the Division 1 sectional in Merrill and will compete at the WIAA Individual State Wrestling Championships this weekend in Madison.
Loomis and Cudd won sectional championships to earn their spots at state while Bystrom avenged a pair of losses to Chippewa Falls' Luke Bowe earlier this season to defeat Bowe in a wrestle-back and advance.
The three will represent River Falls at the state tournament beginning Thursday at 3 p.m. at the Kohl Center in Madison.
"The determination and drive that these three have is great to see this time of year," Wildcat coach Joe Cudd said. "We are excited for the guys to get down to Madison and continue to wrestle their best."
It's Logan Cudd's third straight trip to state while Loomis and Bystrom will be competing in Madison for the first time.
Cudd, who finished sixth at the state tournament a year ago, takes a record of 38-2 into this year's event. He earned his second straight sectional championship with a 19-2 technical fall over Jake Schumacher of Wausau West in the 119 pound quarterfinals, an 11-0 major decision over Mat Natzke of Merrill in the semis, and a 13-3 major decision over Alex Parsons of D.C. Everest in the finals.
"Logan was focused and intense all day and really dominated his competition," his coach and older brother Brady Cudd said.
Loomis, who battled injuries that cut his state tournament bids short the last two years, won the sectional title at 140 pounds with a 7-2 decision over Jacob Rusch of Wausau West in the quarterfinals, a 9-6 victory over Logan Keding of D.C. Everest in the semis and a 4-2 win over Jake Tatro of Antigo in the finals. He takes a record of 39-2 into this weekend's state tournament.
"Cam Loomis has done all the things you could ask a wrestler to do," Brady Cudd said. "He has trained year-round both on and off the mat for the last four years and it really shows when he is wrestling. Nothing seems to rattle him when he is wrestling; he just keeps looking for opportunities to score points."
Bystrom's road to state was not as smooth but equally impressive. After defeating Robert Wille of Marshfield, 7-6, in the 189 pound quarterfinals, he lost to eventual champion Noah Lassa of Merrill, 11-2, in the semis before beating Richard Bryant of Menomonie, 4-2, in the third place match.
That set up a wrestle-back with Bowe, whom Bystrom had lost to twice earlier this season. This time, however, the River Falls sophomore prevailed, 12-6, to earn second place and his first trip to state. He takes a record of 28-12 into the tournament.
"Tyson wrestled a great tournament," Brady Cudd said. "One-hundred and eighty-nine is a senior-dominated weight class. Thirteen of the 16 state qualifiers are seniors this year. Having an underclassmen that can compete and win at that weight is impressive."
Senior Peter Wolff also reached the semifinals at 112 pounds where he lost to eventual champion Izzy Balsiger of Chippewa Falls, 16-10. He came back to beat Nate Hettinga of Wausau West, 7-2, in the third place match but lost his wrestle-back to Hudson's Gordon Johnson.
Nathan Kinneman at 103 pounds, Austin Johnson at 135, Adam Figi at 152, Josh Kinneman at 171, Matt Linehan at 215 and Nick Johnson at 285 all lost in the quarterfinals.