Barron’s wrestlers lost their first conference duel of the year, then advanced one wrestler to the finals as they hosted the annual Barron Invitational on Saturday.
First up was the long trip to Maple to face Northwestern. The Bears fell 57-18 to the Tigers, who placed second in the league standings last season.
“We came up against a very strong wrestling team,” coach Darryl Stephens said. “We had some good matches that were close, but a few wrong moves cost us big.
“We did win three matches, all by pins.”
Chase Peltier (170 pounds), Austin Bladow (182) and Alex Martinez (132) accounted for Barron’s 18 team points.
“Austin had a big head throw and picked up a big pin,” Stephens said. “Alex Martinez had a very good double leg takedown and was very strong on top. He also picked up a very big win.
“William Weise had a very exciting match at 285. It was close throughout and William just came up on the short end. We had a tough task up at Northwestern, but we wrestled hard and are learning each time we take to the mat.”
Fourteen teams and their fans packed the Barron gym on Saturday, where the Bears used a variety of bracket styles to get wrestlers as much mat time as possible. With four mats going all day long, the tournament moved fast and offered a lot of action.
“The two new teams did well,” the coach said. “River Falls was first and West Salem/Bangor was second. We had everybody wrestle and get some mat time.”
It wasn’t all fun and games for the Golden Bears.
“Some our wrestlers are not that experienced and it can be a very long day,” Stephens said. “We had two wrestlers place in the top four.”
Senior Chase Peltier wrestled to the 160-pound title bout before losing a close match, while Weise pinned down the third place heavyweight title – and impressive feat for a sophomore.
“Chase picked up four pins leading up to the finals and then had a very close finals match against Osceola,” Stephens said.
“William wrestled well all day. In the semifinals, it was tied pretty much the whole match. In the last seconds of the third period, Will was taken down and lost a heartbreaker.
“Overall we showed improvement and are getting better each time out. The kids are working really hard and are eager to learn.”
The coach went on to comment on his other wrestlers who took part on Saturday.
“At 106, Devon Osborn was 2-3 on the day and picked up a couple of pins. Also at 106, Dakota Gordon got some of his first mat time of the year. Dakota gives up a lot of weight, but he gives it a good effort.
“At 113, Julia Cox was 1-4 and picked up one pin. At 120, Tong Dara was 2-3. He is a scrappy wrestler and this is really his first year. He is catching on really fast.
“Angela Zimmerman is at 126 and is in her first year of wrestling. She just works. It was a rough day at a good weight class, but she gave it a good go.
“Lorenzo Meza (126) was 2-3 and picked up a couple of pins.
“Alex Martinez (132) was 3-2. He wrestled well. He just had one match that got away from him and that was the difference from getting into the top four.
“Gabriela Rosa-Garcia is in her first year and was at 132, which was a strong weight class. She has been working hard in the practice room and has already improved a lot.
“At 138, Joe Mashak was 2-2. He is wrestling well and will be challenging for a varsity spot. Mason Ecklor was also 2-2 on the day at 138 and had himself a couple of nice takedowns. He is improving every match.
“Kyle Waldofski wrestled at 145 and was 1-3 on the day. He is really starting to catch on and is just fun to work with.
“At 145, Bryce Keilholtz was 2-2 but was just a couple of moves away from placing higher in the tournament. He is working hard to get to the next level.
“Also at 145, Garrett Hegna was 1-3. He also lacks experience, but he picked up his first pin of the year. Isaiah Tallman was 1-3 and picked up a pin at 145. We are so glad to have him back on the team.
“At 152, first year wrestler Jacob Hillmann moved up to fill the weight and picked up a pin for the team. Jacob doesn’t know a lot of moves but has a bunch of energy on the mat and is just fun to work with. He is picking things up pretty fast.
“Josh Gibbs was at 160 and was 2-3. He wrestled one of his best matches of the year against Peltier and also picked up a couple of pins.
“Austin Bladow was at 170 and was 2-3 on the day. He is very intense on the mat and had a couple of pins. It is getting fun watching this young man step on the mat.
“Daniel Senneff was wrestling at 182 and went 1-2. He is wrestling hard for us.
“At 195, a new wrestler came out this week. Damon Eriksen went 2-3 with a couple of pins. Damon was a bit rusty because he has not wrestled in a couple of years. With Damon on the team, we don’t have to move people up to fill the weights, and there is something exciting about this young wrestler.
“At 285, Jacob Goff was 2-3 on with two pins. He is wrestling with some injuries from football but is working to get healed up.”
The Bears’ schedule eases slightly. They’ll wrestle at Osceola this Saturday, Dec. 21, and then prepare for the 42-team Badger tourney Dec. 27-28 at River Falls.
“We will wrestle five dual meets at Osceola,” the coach said. “Boyceville, St. Croix Central, River Falls, Luck/Frederic/Grantsburg, Clear Lake, Cumberland, Barron and Osceola will all be there. Wrestling will start at 9 a.m.
“Have yourself a great week.”