Stanley-Boyd/Owen-Withee wrestlers Blaine Brenner and Sean Hassemer have been making up for lost time.
The duo advanced out of Division 2 regionals last Saturday in Medford as Brenner won a title at 106 pounds and Hassemer took second at 285. They are two of five Oriole wrestlers that advanced to this Saturday’s sectionals in Amery. For both of them, it’s been a successful return to the mat after missing significant time this season due to injury.
Brenner (20-3) got off to a strong start to his freshman season, winning the Eau Claire North Husky invitational last December before he and Hassemer each suffered injuries on Dec. 22 when the Orioles hosted a multi-team dual. Brenner, ranked fifth in the state in Division 2 at 106 pounds in the Wisconsin Wrestling Online state rankings prior to the injury, returned to the mat late in the regular season and took second place at the Cloverbelt Conference meet. Brenner fell to Spencer/Columbus’ Ashton Ackman by sudden victory at the conference meet, but returned the favor quickly in their rematch for in the regional championships, beating Ackman by pinfall in just 23 seconds.
“He puts a lot of time in to getting better,” Stanley-Boyd/Owen-Withee coach Greg Burzynski said of Brenner. “He wrestles pretty much year round and has for a few years. He is also a very hard working kid. He goes hard in practice and makes sure he gets his (weight) lifts in too.”
Hassemer (6-5) made his return at regionals, securing a first-round pinfall win over Neillsville/Greenwood/Loyal’s Jacob Baumgartner to advance to the finals where he fell by injury default to Spencer/Columbus’ Logan Zschernitz. Hassemer beat Baumgartner by rule to take second.
“It was good to see Sean back on the mat,” Burzynski said. “He won the match he needed to.”
Dalton Smith (23-8), a state qualifier last season, won his weight class at 152 to advance to sectionals while teammates Russell Dorn and Ben Turner each took second in their weight classes to advance to sectionals.
The Cadott wrestling team advanced a strong six-wrestler group to Saturday’s Division 3 sectional at Osceola, including a pair of regional champions.
Among that group is Ethan Tegels (30-13), a 182 pounder that took second and is a grappler that longtime Hornet coach Josh Spaeth considers to be the team’s most improved this season.
“He’s been under the radar but is our most improved,” Spaeth said of Tegels. “He has beat state qualifiers and lost to the No. 2-ranked guy.”
That ranked wrestler that Tegels knocked off in regionals is Glenwood City’s Jake Kopacz, ranked 10th in the latest Division 3 rankings at 182 pounds, who he beat by a tight 6-5 decision in the semifinals. Boyceville’s Trett Joles (40-1) defeated Tegels with a third round pinfall for the regional crown. Joles was ranked second to Iowa-Grant/Highland’s Brady Peat in the 182 rankings.
Tegels won the Raider Challenge at 182 in Arcadia last month before taking third at the Cloverbelt Conference meet prior to the postseason. Tegels will be in a strong weight class again this weekend, but with the improvements he’s shown thus far (He finished 21-18 last season) his coach says he’s someone to keep an eye on this weekend.
“Ethan could be a surprise to get out of that sectional,” Spaeth said. “He has the ability to get out of that sectional. He continues to get better and better each week.”
Person breaks through
Nobody has to tell Cornell/Gilman senior Zach Person how hard it is to advance out of regionals.
Person had a 33-8 record last season and was 24-13 as a sophomore, but finished third at regionals in both seasons, one spot away from advancement. In both instances, the two wrestlers that finished ahead of him in regionals advanced to state the next weekend.
He entered this postseason with a 32-5 record but this time is moving on after taking second at the Division 3 sectionals in Spring Valley/Elmwood at 160 pounds.
Much of that heavy lifting came in his semifinal matchup against Spring Valley/Elmwood’s Kenny Fesenmaier, a match Person won by a 5-3 decision. Person held the lead late, but had to hold off a hard-charging Fesenmaier to get win while battling a cold and a foe that owned a size advantage on him.
“He just had to gut that one out,” Cornell/Gilman coach Greg Sonnentag said. “That kid (Fesenmaier) was coming after him and it took all he had to finish it up.”
Person was defeated by Cadott’s James Pfeiffer in the title match before beating Fesenmaier by rule to take second. Person was ranked 12th at 152 pounds in the Division 3 rankings before wrestling a weight class bigger in the postseason.
McDonell boys basketball at Eau Claire Regis, Tuesday, 7:15 p.m.
It’s always a battle when the Macks and Ramblers get together in any sport and this matchup will give the winner the inside track to a third-place finish in the Western Cloverbelt Conference. McDonell won the first matchup 74-56 on Jan. 15, the start of a five-game win streak for the Macks.
Hayward/Medford winner at Chi-Hi boys hockey, Thursday, 7 p.m.
The Cardinals open up the postseason at home when they play the winner of a Tuesday regional semifinal matchup. Chi-Hi did not face Medford during the regular season, but did score a 3-2 win at Hayward on Nov. 28.
Chi-Hi/Menomonie girls hockey at Eau Claire Area, Friday, 5 p.m.
The first game of a Friday hockey doubleheader at Hobbs Ice Arena in Eau Claire is a battle between Big Rivers Conference foes. The Stars swept the regular season series.
Chi-Hi girls basketball at Eau Claire North, Friday, 7:15 p.m.
The Cardinals are one win away from the program’s seventh consecutive Big Rivers Conference title, but in order to get it will need to get a win in the Doghouse against an always-tough Huskies squad. Chi-Hi won the first meeting 53-45 on Jan. 12.
Athletes of the Week
Boys: Tyler Robarge, Chi-Hi
The junior big man is among Chippewa County leaders in scoring this season, but his gesture of kindness off the court was just as big as any basket he’s made so far this season. Robarge was attending last Tuesday’s McDonell vs Eau Claire Regis girls basketball game in Eau Claire and won the school’s 50/50 drawing. He opted to donate his winnings to a third grader in the Regis school system battling cancer. A tip of the cap to the 6-foot-8 Cardinal post player for his big show of generosity.
Girls: Abby Opsal, McDonell
Opsal scored a career-high 22 points while pulling down 13 rebounds in her team’s 58-54 win over the Ramblers, giving the program its first-ever regular season sweep of rival Regis. Opsal had eight double-doubles in 14 conference games this season and heading into Monday’s nonconference matchup with Flambeau was leading the team in scoring (11.8 points per game).