The Viroqua High School wrestlers began their month-long post-season run, taking home the team silver at the end-of-season Coulee Conference tournament held at the Westby Fieldhouse, Saturday, Feb. 3.
The Blackhawks crowned four individual champions, a pair of second-place winners and three third-place finishers at the six-team round-robin event. The Melrose-Mindoro/G-E-T co-op, regular season champions, won the tournament team title with 345 points, followed by Viroqua with 246, West Salem/Bangor 239, Westby 177, Arcadia 93 and Black River Falls 63.5.
Freshman Cale Anderson improved his season record to 40-3 en route to the championship at 106, winning all five matches including a first-round bye, a 17-1 technical fall (2:21) in round three and a trio of first-period pins in rounds two, four and five. The three pin wins came against opponents with a combined 67 victories on the season.
Anderson’s sparring partner, Josh Frye, made it back-to-back individual champions for VHS, winning the 113-pound bracket, also going undefeated in five bouts. Frye improved his sophomore season mark to 36-5 with a pair of first- and second-round byes followed by pin in :47 in round three, a 1:36 pin win over Westby’s Logan Turben (22-11) in round four and a hard-fought 8-5 win over M-M/G-E-T’s Colton Sime (25-12) in the final round.
Ryan Hannah (37-1) captured the Blackhawks’ third individual championship, winning the title at 145 with a first-round bye, a pin in :48 in round two, a 2:48 fall over Westby’s Bjorn Leum in round three, a 4:53 pin over Joe Hess of WS/Bangor in round four and a forfeit win in the final match.
Tyler Hannah (40-3) wasted little time in rolling to the championship at 170, with pin wins in :08, :20, 1:18 and :25 in rounds one, two, three and five. The sophomore battled his way to a 13-5 win over Westby’s Connor Vatland in round four.
Sophomore Paul Nickelotti (26-14) earned a second-place medal at 182, battling to win his first two matches, 10-7 over Nathaniel Wiggins of WS/Bangor in round one and a 10-8 overtime thriller over Reece Fernandez of Arcadia in the second. Nickelotti then rolled to a dominating 23-8 technical fall victory in round three, picked up a bye in round four, but lost by a fall in round five to Landen Lockington of M-M/G-E-T in 5:16.
Senior Ben Sherry used byes in rounds one, two and four together with a :54 pin win over Tanner Copper WS/Bangor in the third round to take home second-place honors in the 285-pound bracket. Sherry lost in a fall to M-M/G-E-T’s Josh Marciulionis in the final round.
Sophomore Lucas Oldham (21-9) placed third at 126 with a pair of byes in rounds one and four, a 9-6 decision win in round two over Westby’s Dakota Bakkestuen, but lost via pins in rounds three and five.
Another sophomore, Zach Fox, also earned third-place honors, with a 1:58 pin win in the opening round, a bye in round two, followed by a pair of losses in rounds three and four, before bouncing back with a pin victory in 3:44 in round five.
Braxton Cary took home the team’s third individual bronze-medal finish at 220, with an exciting 4-2 sudden victory in ovetime in the opening round over WS/Bangor’s Dylan Noel, and byes in rounds two and five.
Other place winners for the Hawks included a trio of freshmen, Jay Lind fifth at 120, Case Mayberry fifth at 132 and Aaron Dobbs fourth at 138. Colton Fox, a junior, finished fifth at 160 and Dalton Hardy, a sophomore, was fifth at 195.
The Blackhawks begin their journey down the WIAA Division 2 state tournament trail Saturday, Feb. 10, in regional competition hosted by Adams-Friendship High School.