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Raiders pushed to the limit, but they get the job done in win

Raiders pushed to the limit, but they get the job done in win Raiders pushed to the limit, but they get the job done in win


The Medford wrestlers were prepared for a good battle with the Neillsville-Greenwood-Loyal co-op Thursday night and that’s what they got while escaping with a 42-40 character-building win over a team they’ll need to outscore again in a couple of months at the WIAA Division 2 regional meet.

Upperclassmen Hayden Johnson came through with clutch pins when Medford needed them late and head coach Brandon Marcis pointed to the importance of two freshmen avoiding pins early in the team’s third dual win of December.

“It was a wild dual,” Marcis said. “I expected it to be close. I don’t know if I expected it to be this close. This was one of those meets where we learned some things about ourselves. We did what we had to do to get the job done. They came through. It was a total team effort. Even for the guys who didn’t win, everybody contributed to it.”

The random draw set 285 pounds as the starting weight class for the meet, which Marcis said was probably the least favorable spot to start for the Raiders simply because there was a chance the Warriors could build some early momentum, which they did.

Medford forfeited to heavyweight Austin Ruff, then Luke Dux rolled to a 16-0 technical fall over Raider freshman Thaddeus Sigmund. Freshman Matthew Gebert filled the 113-pound slot for the injured Ty Sova and was pinned by Jarick Young in 1:35. At 120 pounds, Gage Ludovic beat Medford’s Blake Schilling in a 15-0 technical fall to put the home team up 22-0.

The technical falls, however, loomed large.

“There are two spots that stick out to me,” Marcis said. “Thaddeus Sigmund was up against a really talented wrestler. He got taken to his back, but he worked hard, stayed off his back and got tech falled. He saved a point for us. Then there’s Blake Schilling. He’s learned some lessons about varsity wrestling this year. He gets taken down but fights like crazy and pulls through for a tech fall instead of a pin. That’s another point he saved for us.”

Eric Rehbein got Medford on the board by taking a forfeit at 126 pounds, but Neillsville’s Keeghan Anding pinned Kayden Dassow in 50 seconds at 132 pounds to push the lead back to 28-6.

The Raiders knew they weren’t out of it with their experienced leaders coming in the mid and upper weights. Senior Dane Higgins got things rolling at 138 pounds with a 65-second pin over Garrett Learman. Zeke Sigmund took a forfeit at 145 pounds and Emett Grunwald needed just 39 seconds to pin Zach Klapatauskas at 152 pounds. Just like that, Medford was within 28-24 with five matches left.

The 160-pound bout was a turning point, according to Marcis. Senior Jake Brunner improved to 9-3 for the year with a pin in 3:43 over Tommy Friemoth to give Medford its first lead at 30-28.

“Jake again pulled through,” Marcis said. “He was behind early against a good wrestler. The Friemoth name is huge in Neillsville wrestling. It’s a big wrestling family. He got down but kept grinding and got him in a front head cradle. That was huge.”

Johnson improved to 5-8 with a key pin at 170 pounds over Dan Polzin, capping a 30-point run by the Raiders that put them ahead 36-28.

“Hayden got a big pin for us and wrestled very well,” Marcis said. “He stayed in good position and wrestled to his abilities.”

That set up a good 182-pound matchup between Medford’s Clay Bowe and the Neillsville Co-op’s current standout from the Buchanan family, Nathan. Bowe controlled the first period, getting a couple of takedowns and nearly had a pin at one point. Buchanan, however, flipped the switch in the second period and wound up getting the pin at 3:35 to make it 36-34 with two matches left.

Junior Dalton Krug then stepped up and delivered the dagger in the 195-pound bout, pinning Joe Polzin in 1:10 to give Medford an insurmountable eight-point lead. It was the second pin for Krug over Polzin in six days. He also got him at Eau Claire North the previous Saturday.

Things got scary for the Raiders in the final bout at 220 pounds. Top-ranked Jake Rau lost to Gunner Hoffmann by injury default and wound up making a trip to the hospital for some testing, but he came out fine.

“Jake wrestled a very talented kid,” Marcis said. “He’s a freshman, but he’s super talented. He’s a wrestler, no doubt about it. It was a close match. Jake got taken down, then got out of it. He had been battling some illness all week and during the match, you could tell he was getting broken down a little bit. The ref stopped the match, the trainer came out and recommended he get checked out. So it was kind of a weird ending to the meet.”

While it wasn’t the smoothest, Marcis said this was the type of dual that will make the team stronger.

“Those are the types of challenges we like to take on,” he said. “It’s better than killing teams and not learning anything. We knew it was going to be a tough meet and we were able to close it out. I’m really happy about the experience.”

Medford should get plenty of challenges Friday and Saturday when it makes the trip to the La Crosse Center for the 70-team Bi-State Classic.

“It’s a good opportunity to see some really good kids,” Marcis said. “That’s why we schedule the way we do, to take every chance we can to get better. This will be a great chance to get better.”