The Viroqua wrestling team opened the 2017-18 season last week with a 47-32 dual match loss at Prairie du Chien Thursday, Nov. 30, and then rolled to their ninth Royall Invitational team championship Saturday, Dec. 2. The nine team titles is the most by any school in the 50-year history of the Royall Invitational.
Viroqua vs. PdC
The Prairie match began in the upper weights at 225 and 285 and the host Blackhawks jumped out to an early 12-0 lead on a pair of pins. Viroqua freshman Cale Anderson kicked off his varsity career with a hard-fought 6-4 decision over PdC’s Matt Rogge at 106 and sophomore Josh Frye at 113, followed with a 2:54 pin over Chase Fisher and suddenly the visiting Blackhawks were within striking distance trailing 12-9.
Prairie answered the challenge as Chase Watson made it 18-9 with an injury default win over freshman Jay Lind at 120 and Traeton Saint put PdC on top 24-9 with a pin win over Viroqua freshman Cole Mayberry at 126.
The visitors responded with a 2:58 pin at 132 from senior Casey Leer over Reid Koenig to cut the margin to 24-15, but that was as close as the visiting Blackhawks would get. The two teams traded points in the next two matches, as Viroqua freshman Aaron Dobbs lost his varsity debut by a technical fall at 138, before Ryan Hannah earned a 19-4 tech fall win at 145 making the score 29-20.
Senior Ben Froiseth (152) and junior Remington Running (160) each lost by fall and PdC held an insurmountable 41-20 advantage. Tyler “Truck” Hannah (170) and Paul Nickelotti (185) tacked on pin wins for Viroqua, but it was too little too late to overcome the Prairie lead. Sophomore Dalton Hardy dropped his match at 195 to Stephen Ronnfeldt via a pin to round out the scoring.
“Prairie has a very nice balanced squad and I felt the kids battled well,” said VHS coach Eric Anderson. “We will continue to work and build on our technique.”
The Blackhawks dominated the Royall Invite, wrapping up the team championship before the final round was even wrestled, at the 12-team combined round robin/regular format event.
Viroqua claimed six individual championships and four third-place finishes en route to their eighth consecutive Royall Invite team title.
Anderson went 4-0 at 106 with four straight pin wins in 3:41, 42, 20 and 30 seconds, totaling 18 team points. Frye made quick work in winning the 113-pound bracket recording falls in 21, 26, 11 and 58 seconds, to also add 18 points to the team total.
Leer chipped in with 18 team points with his 4-0 first place mark at 132, with a pair of pins and as many decisions, coming against possibly the toughest bracket at the tournament, with wins over three opponents totaling over 80 wins last season.
Ryan Hannah picked up is fourth career championship at the Royall event totaling 27.5 team points in competition at 145, with three pins and a dominating 19-1 technical fall win.
Tyler Hannah earned a championship at 170, and added 24 team points, on the strength of a 26 second pin, a 20-4 tech fall and an 8-0 major decision.
Nickelotti captured the sixth individual title at 182 pounds, piling up 16 team points with a decision win, two pins and an injury default victory.
Third-place winners for the Hawks were Mayberry (3-1) at 126, Dobbs (3-1) at 138, Froiseth (3-1) at 152 and Ben Sherry (1-2) at 285. Running lost in his bid for third place, by a 10-9 score in the final seconds of his 160-pound match, placing fourth with a 2-2 record on the strength of a pair of pin wins.
Viroqua won the championship with 191 points, followed by Wisconsin Dells with 140, New Lisbon 74, Blair-Taylor 68, Hillsboro 68, Poynette 57, West Salem/Bangor 40, Madison East 36, Montello 34, Westfield 19 and Kickapoo/La Farge 11.
“Great team effort,” Anderson said. “The team is working hard to solidify their technique and we are comfortable where this young team is at early in the season.”