CADOTT — For two years in a row, the Boyceville wrestling team was denied a regional title by agonizingly small margins.
On Saturday, the Bulldogs finally got to see what it was like on the other end of the spectrum.
Boyceville used rock-solid showings in the finals and wrestle-backs to rally past Cadott for a Division 3 regional championship in Cadott. The Bulldogs grabbed the top spot with a score of 234.5, seven and a half points higher than the runner-up Hornets. Boyceville was down by over 30 points in the team standings earlier in the day.
The Bulldogs missed out on a regional crown by 4.5 points last season and by one point in 2017. Now, they’ve finally punched their ticket to team sectionals.
“It was a team effort, there was no doubt,” Boyceville coach Jamie Olson said. “When I look back at my 21 years of coaching, this team came together like no other to win this tournament. It was really cool to see.”
Boyceville needed to be nearly perfect in the finals to pull off the comeback — and they essentially were. Of the seven championship matches they competed in, the Bulldogs won six.
That included some crucial wins by wrestlers who had received byes to the later rounds of the regional due to a low number of competitors in their weight class.
Nate Stuart (120 pounds) won his only match of the day — the regional final. Ira Bialzik did the same at 126 pounds, as did Nick Goodell at 138.
“That was the difference,” Olson said. “They lose one of those, we don’t win this.”
The Bulldogs produced the most individual regional champions of any team. Cadott came close to matching them, with four individual winners: Nelson Wahl, Brady Spaeth, James Pfeiffer and Josh Briggs.
Three championship matches pitted Boyceville against Cadott. The Bulldogs won all three.
“We’re really happy with moving guys forward (to sectionals),” Cadott coach Josh Spaeth said. “Ultimate goal was to get to team sectionals and team state, so that’s a little hard to swallow. But Boyceville wrestled well, and there were a few matches where we just didn’t finish them out.”
In addition to Stuart, Bialzik and Goodell, Brock Schlough, Trett Joles and Josiah Berg won individual titles for the Bulldogs.
Brady Spaeth and Pfeiffer are both unbeaten on the season for Cadott and won their individual titles with minimal difficulty. Wahl and Briggs both faced tough challenges in their finals, but ultimately got the job done.
Wahl trailed 11-7 late in the third round of his title match against Clear Lake’s Ivan Ruble, but made a series of impressive moves over the final minute and a half of the bout to score a 14-11 decision victory.
“Nelson showed a lot of heart and determination,” Josh Spaeth said. “He’s been getting consistently better and has bought in. That was one of the efforts of the day.”
Briggs managed a pin on Clear Lake’s Sam Dusek in the 285-pound final with some well-timed moves of his own.
Cornell/Gilman’s Sam Pickerign captured the individual title at 132 pounds, defeating Boyceville’s Tyler Dormanen in a 10-3 decision. Pickerign was the only wrestler to defeat someone from Boyceville in a final.
“I knew he had a good arsenal on his feet,” Pickerign said of Dormanen. “So I just went out there to find a pace that he couldn’t handle, and just believed in my stuff. Couldn’t really get a turn on top, but I just stayed aggressive with hand-fighting in there and being patient, not forcing anything.”
Andy Grant won an individual title for Glenwood City at 113 pounds, while Kenny Fesenmaier of Spring Valley/Elmwood was the champion at 195 pounds.