The Viroqua wrestling team placed a respectable 19th among 61 teams competing at the Bi-State Wrestling Tournament held at the La Crosse Center Dec. 29-30. The Blackhawks totaled 132.5 team points; Holmen won the team title with 342.
Ryan Hannah (19-1) was the top individual place winner for the Hawks, finishing with a 6-1 record, earning a third-place medal in the 145-pound weight class. Hannah, a VHS senior, rolled through the first four rounds, recording a first period pin in round one, a 17-0 technical-fall in the second, and consecutive major decisions by scores of 13-2 in round three and 11-0 in the quarterfinals. Mauston’s Teagen Miller (22-1) dealt Hannah his first loss of the season with a 4-2 decision in Friday evening’s semifinals. Hannah rebounded to win his next two matches, an 8-3 decision over Marsfield’s Nolan Hertel (18-4) in the consolation semifinal round and a nail-biting 5-4 win over Antonio Cortez (20-3) of South St. Paul in the third-place match.
Freshman Cale Anderson earned fourth-place individual honors, with a 4-2 record at the two-day event. Anderson cruised through the first four rounds with a bye and three consecutive pin wins in :45, 1:28 and :35, before dropping a hard-fought 3-0 decision to Lucas Joniaux (20-5) of Luxemburg/Casco in the semifinal match. Anderson picked up a 10-5 win in the consolation round semifinals over Ross Herber (15-4) from Lewiston/Altura/Rushford-Peterson, but then lost a 6-4 tie-breaker to Sam Lorenz (21-3) of Waunakee in the third-place match.
Tyler Hannah was the only other place winner for the Blackhawks, claiming fifth-place honors at 170, going 6-2 over the two days of competition. Tyler Hannah, a VHS sophomore, began the tournament with a bye in round one, followed by a 1:07 pin in round two and an 8-4 decision victory in the third. Hannah dropped out of the championship bracket with a 7-2 loss in the quarterfinals to Kaleb O’Reilley (15-4) of Goodhue. The younger Hannah responded with back-to-back wins in consolation rounds six and seven, a 5-0 decision over Josh Piechowski (15-7) and a 4-3 win over Jack Leight (18-2) of Bloomington Kennedy. The fifth-place medal match saw Hannah pull out a 3-1 win over Keller Wolfe (18-3) of Auberndale.
Other Blackhawks competing at Bi-State included Josh Frye (19-4) at 113 going 3-2, Lucas Oldham at 126 going 1-2, Casey Leer (15-7) at 132 going 3-2, Aaron Dobbs (12-9) at 138 going 3-2, Ben Froiseth (6-12) at 152 going 1-2, Colton Fox (5-8) at 160 going 1-2, Paul Nickelotti (13-8) at 182 going 2-2, Dalton Hardy at 195 going 2-2, Braxton Cary at 220 going 1-2 and Ben Sherry at 285 going 2-2.
The Blackhawks entered the tournament with an honorable mention ranking among WIAA Division 2 schools, after placing ninth at the Badger State Invitational Dec. 23 and according to VHS coach Eric Anderson, this type of competition is just what his team looks forward to. “We like to have a couple of little peaks throughout the season, and the time around Christmas is one of them. When you go to Bi-State, you see some of the best wrestlers in the state and more. You want to match your kids up with them and see where they are.”
The Blackhawks will have another opportunity to participate against top-notch competition in their next action as they participate, for the first time, in the Lodi Invitational Tournament Jan. 6, before returning to Coulee Conference action hosting Arcadia Jan. 9.