Best Bear finishers

Four Golden Bears finished third or better at the Heart O’North Conference Wrestling Tournament held Saturday, Feb. 2, at Chetek. Mason Ecklor (from left) finished third at 126 pounds, William Waldofski and Tristan Massie won at 170 and 152 pounds, respectively, and Chase Peltier was second at 160. Massie was named the league’s Wrestler of the Year for a second straight season.

Barron crowned two individual champions at the Heart O’North Conference Wrestling Meet at Chetek and finished fifth out of 10 teams Saturday, Feb. 2. The Golden Bears also had a second, third and fourth place wrestler, while senior Tristan Massie was again named the league’s Wrestler of the Year.

“We even had a wrestler get his first win of the year,” coach Darryl Stephens said. “It was a good day. “For the second year in a row, Barron has taken home the HON Conference Wrestler of the Year and for the second year in a row Tristan Massie won the award.

“This award is voted on by all the coaches in the conference. As a coach, you cannot vote for a wrestler from your own team. So this means that the other coaches see the work Tristan has put in and has awarded him for his effort.”

Barron’s wrestling family was also hit was some tough news.

“Sad news for Barron wrestling is the passing of longtime Barron Invitational announcer Larry “Lars” Hoff, who was also the coach of the Almena wrestling club,” Stephens said. “He sent a lot of good wrestlers to area schools. Many thanks, Big Lars.”

The Golden Bears will stay home this week, hosting Ashland, Hayward/Northwood, Northwestern, Rice Lake and Spooner/Webster for a Div. 2 regional tournament on Saturday, Feb. 9, to kickoff the WIAA tournament series. The top two wrestlers in each weight class will advance to the Feb. 12 Neillsville Sectional. The regional champion team will wrestle again Feb. 12 at the team sectional meet.

HON Tournament

On Saturday at Chetek, Spooner/Webster dominated the team standings, finishing with 191.5 points. Cumberland was next at 154, followed by Northwestern (150.5), Ladysmith (129) and Barron (126) in the top five.

Thanks in part to an unbalanced regular season schedule, Cumberland won the Heart O’North team title by a single point. The Beavers finished with 15 points, with Northwestern and Spooner/Webster at 14. Ladysmith was fourth (11 team points) in the final standings and Barron fifth (8).

Three Golden Bears made the finals at the league tourney. Massie won the 152-pound title, while fellow senior William Waldofski took the 170-pound championship. Junior Chase Peltier placed second at 160 pounds.

After a first round bye, Massie recorded a major decision over Bowen Rothbauer of Bloomer/Colfax in the semifinals. Massie won 6-1 in the finals over Superior’s Caden Stone to capture his second conference championship.

“Tristan had a strong day on his feet, with many nice takedowns and a very tough performance in the top position,” the coach said.

Massie, with a record of 31-2, is currently ranked eighth among Div. 2 152-pounders.

Waldofski recorded two first period pins at Chetek before winning his fourth conference title with a 15-7 major decision over Cumberland’s Adam Nyhus.

Waldofski, now an impressive 24-1 on the season despite battling injury, is ranked second among Div. 2 170-pound grapplers.

Peltier is ranked 12th at 160 pounds, with a record of 30-8. On Saturday, he recorded a first period pin and then a major decision over Luke Gregerson of Northwestern before facing Chetek-Weyerhaeuser/Prairie Farm junior Will Peters in the finals.

“It was a wild finals match,” Stephens said. “It was tied right to the end and Peters got a late takedown to win. Chase had a very nice day and was looking real good. If things work out next week, he could see Peters at the sectional tournament.”

Peters, ranked 10th, sports a 16-3 season record.

“At 126 pounds, Mason Ecklor (16-20 season record) placed third and had his best day of the year,” the coach said. “He had a pin over Kaleb Woodley from Cumberland in the first round. He then lost to Braden Trautt from Northwestern.

“In the consolation match, Mason got a pin over Jason Yost of Hayward. In the third place match, he had a major decision over Henry Huber from Superior to top off a very good day.

Freshman Bryce Keilholtz (13-22) finished fourth for the Bears at 138.

“Bryce picked up a victory over someone who beat him earlier in the year,” Stephens said. “In the first match, Bryce won 7-4 over Nolan Collins from Chetek and then lost in the semis to Mitchel Harmon from Bloomer.

“In the wrestle-backs, Bryce picked up a win in a wild match that was won by a last second takedown, 6-4 over Landon Lathrop from Superior. He then lost to Cory Hagstrom from Ashland to take a fourth place finish. “

The coach went on to comment on the rest of his wrestlers who competed at Chetek.

“At 106, Julia Cox (11-21) wrestled hard in both of her matches and did a lot of nice things that showed improvement.

“Lorenzo Meza (9-14) was 1-3 on the day at 113 pounds. He did the best he could for being as sick as we was, but he did have some very nice double leg takedowns.

“Joe Mashak (12-10) placed fifth at 120. He was 2-2 on the day, with one win by a pin. He was really looking good on the mat. He was tough on top and it showed when he had a close match against Justin Fowler from Prairie Farm, losing 8-4. That was a strong match against a young, tough wrestler in Fowler.

“Alex Martinez (11-23) had a pretty stout weight class at 132. He did pick up one pin on the day. Then it got real tough, but he does not back down and goes after who is ever on the other side of the line.

“Tony Candler (23-12) placed fifth at 182 and was 2-2 on the day. He picked up two pins but lost a couple of close matches that went right to the end and could have gone either way.

“Dakota Tucker (14-14) wrestled at 195. He was 1-3 on the day and was a throw away from a couple of upsets. He did his best, being an undersized wrestler at that weight.

“Jordan Haag (11-24) was at 220. He always goes as hard as he can and today it paid off. Jordan got his first (non-forfeit) win of the year with a pin in the first period. The whole team was excited with the win, because Jordan has given the team so much in his first year of wrestling.

“At 285, William Weise (16-21) was 1-3 in a weight class that was the strongest it has been in a long time. William did pick up one pin and continues to wrestle well. Anything can happen when he steps on the mat.”