With the holidays in full force, the Lakeland wrestling team participated in the Northern Badger Wrestling Classic on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 27 and 28.
The Thunderbirds placed ninth out of 13 teams in the one-team scores with 103 points.
“It was a great tournament all the way around, really makes young kids hungry,” coach Adam Bremer said. “It just gets them excited for the opportunity to stand on the podium. Really excited for the overall performance.”
There were a number of standout wrestlers who made it to day two. In order to make the second day of wrestling, the individual had to make it into the top 12 of the tournament in their weight class.
Jason Hilgart finished in third place and scored 32 team points. In the quarterfinals, Hilgart pinned Miles Longsdorf of River Falls in 5:45. That advanced him to the semifinal match.
In that semifinal match, Amery’s Walker Ingham took the win with a pin in 4:34. But it was a good match from Hilgart.
“(Jason) was only down 3-0 when he got caught and pinned,” Bremer said. “It was actually a very competitive match.”
Hilgart finished strong in the third place match against Cumberland’s Benett Schramski. Hilgart won by a 13-7 decision and finished in third place.
“I think I was most proud of the way he responded in the third place match,” Bremer said. “(It was a) dominant performance in the third place match.”
Harry Nemcek placed fifth and scored 31 team points. In the quarterfinals, he found a tough matchup with St. Croix Falls’ Mason Will. Will won by a major decision 12-3.
That put Harry Nemcek in the consolation bracket. That was where he finished with some strong wrestling.
First, Harry Nemcek won by major decision 11-5 over Bryce Baldwin of Cumberland. Then, he pinned Tristan Neisinger of Spring Valley/Elmwood in under two minutes to advance to the fifth place match.
In the fifth place match, Harry Nemcek pinned Baldwin-Woodville’s Hunter Bonte in 4:09 to take fifth place.
“(Harry went) 3-0 on the second day,” Bremer said. “I just saw a mental shift in the way Harry approached his wrestling on the second day.”
Sawyer Duir advanced to day two and placed 11th, scoring 13 team points. In the consolation round, he pinned Dante Butler of Boyceville in 39 seconds. Then he won over St. Croix Central’s Hunter Feyereisen by major decision 11-2. That would be his final win of the tournament.
“(Sawyer) had a great first day,” Bremer said. “The second day he struggled a bit, but I like these tournaments. The mental and physical fatigue can be a big challenge.”
The last Thunderbird to compete in day two was Nick Rybicki. He placed 12th and scored 10 team points. In the championship rounds one and two, he pinned both Logan Czech and Logan Shackelton.
“Nick’s big round came in the second round. It was a back and forth match and he used his physical strength and determination to get a hold of the guy,” Bremer said.
He found it hard to win in day two, but continued to compete and get better.
One Thunderbird who did not compete in day two, but competed well was Henry Evenhouse. In the second round of consolation, he went in a sudden death match with Torien Hubbard of Rice Lake. The first to get a point would win the match.
Hubbard took the victory as Evenhouse continued to grow and get stronger in his craft.
“The exciting thing for me is that he’s grown so much since he started wrestling,” Bremer said.
Ben Nemcek competed in the 113 weight class for the first time this season over the weekend. He ended up in an overtime match like Evenhouse did. Again, the opposition took the victory, but it was solid wrestling from both individuals.
“To get that appreciation from the opposing coach, that’s the kind of stuff that shows we’re growing, we’re getting better,” Bremer said.
The Thunderbirds’ next match comes Thursday, Jan. 9 at Antigo starting at 7 p.m.
Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]