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WIAA DIV. 2 WRESTLING - Losiewiczs, Kawa and Stark earn their spots in Madison

Losiewiczs, Kawa and Stark earn their spots in Madison
Medford’s Jude Stark and Teague Holzer of St. Croix Central stare each other down during their 132-pound sectional semifinal match in Tomahawk Saturday. Holzer won 5-1, but both wrestlers qualified for this coming weekend’s state tournament in Madison. NATHANIEL UNDERWOOD/TRIBUNE-PHONOGRAPH
Losiewiczs, Kawa and Stark earn their spots in Madison
Medford’s Jude Stark and Teague Holzer of St. Croix Central stare each other down during their 132-pound sectional semifinal match in Tomahawk Saturday. Holzer won 5-1, but both wrestlers qualified for this coming weekend’s state tournament in Madison. NATHANIEL UNDERWOOD/TRIBUNE-PHONOGRAPH


As the WIAA Division 2 wrestling sectional usually does, Saturday’s big meet in Tomahawk featured some highs as four Medford Raiders achieved their goals of wrestling this weekend at the Kohl Center in Madison and nine others saw their seasons and, in some cases, their prep careers end after the team’s successful season.

Three of the qualifiers were no surprise as junior Gage Losiewicz earned his third straight state trip, senior Logan Kawa heads back to state looking to improve on his sixth-place finish from a year ago and freshman Avery Losiewicz showed why she was the clear favorite in the girls 126-pound bracket, quickly getting two pins to become Medford’s first-ever girls state qualifier.

Senior Jude Stark also broke through for the first time, finishing third at 132 pounds.

Medford’s four WIAA state tournament qualifiers will see how far they can get against Wisconsin’s best starting today, Thursday, at the Kohl Center in Madison. While Gage Losiewicz drew a first-round bye in his Division 2 157-pound weight class, Stark and Kawa have must-win matches tonight to advance to Friday competition while Avery Losiewicz could get her first two matches in today. She will hit the mat shortly after 3 p.m.

Friday’s state schedule includes girls consolation matches at 10 a.m., boys quarterfinals starting at approximately 11:15 a.m., followed by consolation matches. The semifinals start at 7 p.m. Friday. The tournament wraps up Saturday with consolation matches at 10 a.m., followed by third- and fifth-place matches and the championships starting at 5:30 p.m.

The qualifiers

Obviously this is a special week in the Losiewicz home as Medford’s brotherand-sister duo head to Madison as title contenders in their weight classes.

Gage, who has one win in four career state matches, has elevated himself from a ninth and eighth seed the past two years to the two-seed in the 12-man 157-pound bracket, which he knows guarantees him nothing but it does put him on a realistic path to the final.

“There’s no really better seed you can get at state,” Losiewicz said. “One and two seeds are the best seeds. But it doesn’t really matter what seed you get because everybody is going to be tough.”

Losiewicz sits at 46-4 for the season after a 3-0 day at Tomahawk gave him his second straight sectional championship.

He started the day with a pin in 1:12 over Landon Montney of Hayward-Northwood to set up a semifinal match with Griffin Marko of St. Croix Falls (38-2), who Losiewicz beat in last year’s sectional championship. Much like that 2-1 win, this was a defensive battle with Losiewicz finally getting a late takedown to win 3-1.

“He’s just really a defensive wrestler, he waits for you to do your stuff,” Losiewicz said. “I wasn’t going to put myself in any bad spots.”

In the championship, Losiewicz got a rematch with Abbotsford-Colby’s Tanner Halopka, who beat Losiewicz a week earlier in the regional final. Just like the regional match, Losiewicz got the first takedown. He gave up one late, but then got one midway through the 60-second sudden-victory overtime period to win the match 4-2.

“I was just making sure I didn’t get turned on bottom because that’s what made me lose last time,” Losiewicz said. “I got the takedown first like last time. Then I was just making sure I finished it out. This time he ended up getting a takedown on me right at the end of the match. But we just went into overtime and got my takedown. It was good. I just kept moving and hit the shot good.”

At Madison Friday, Losiewicz will face either 10th-seeded Carter Ries of Big Foot-Williams Bay (35-7) or seventh-seeded Bryce Lenzendorf of Prairie du Chien (4114) in the quarterfinals. Breylin Goebel (43-3) of Darlington-Black Hawk is the third seed and Brody Hart of Winneconne (19-0) is the top seed.

Avery Losiewicz was the top seed out of six sectional entrants. She pinned Hailey Ridgeway of the Luck Co-op in 42 seconds in the semifinals and Osceola’s Mazie Gillespie in 17 seconds in the championship.

“It’s meaningful, but I expected it to happen,” she said of being Medford’s first state qualifier in the WIAA’s still-new girls tournament. “I was just going out there and doing it.”

“She hit good shots and didn’t put herself in dangerous positions,” her brother said.

The two obviously know each other’s games quite well from years of sparring and drilling at home. There was a time where Avery needed to make a choice between gymnastics and wrestling, but she appears to have made a good choice, not only with this state appearance but also getting experience in national competition last summer with Team Wisconsin.

“I think it’s prepared me a lot,” Avery said. “I do think that nationals is so much bigger than state. With the big crowd, it doesn’t matter.

“What got me into wrestling was probably this dude, (Gage), because I used to be his practice partner at home,” she added. “Then I told my parents (Chad and Katie) I wanted to do it. They were like, well you’re in gymnastics. Then when I started correcting Gage on his moves at home, that was kind of when they let me wrestle.”

Gage said the two kept their work separate for the most part in the wrestling room this season with Chad Losiewicz, a volunteer assistant on the coaching staff often working with each individually. But Gage said in the off-season the siblings will work together a lot.

“Physical strength,” Gage said about what makes Avery successful. “As a girl when you can come in benching like 160, it does help as you on the wrestling mat with all of the things that she does.”

Avery Losiewicz (32-3) will open state competition Thursday against 13th-seeded Brianna Buechner (21-7) of Wautoma-Wild Rose. The top seed is 21-0 sophomore Madi Peach of Milton, who was one of the few wrestlers to beat Losiewicz this year with a 40-second pin at Arcadia Jan. 20.

“I want to get into the final match. I know I can be there,” she said.

Kawa has been one of Medford’s steadiest wrestlers this year. At 45-8, he’s the fifth seed at 175 pounds after taking second at Saturday’s sectional.

Kawa had to work for his first win, pinning Baldwin-Woodville’s Drew Stark at 3:55. In the semifinals, he earned a 13-5 major decision over Osceola’s Addison Uddin (40-4), the eventual third-place fin-isher.

“I started off by fighting off a good shot,” Kawa said. “It should’ve been his. After that I got high, I got flipped to my back, which was scary at the moment. But after that I just stuck to my basics, stayed strong and just followed through with that.”

In the final, Kawa met 48-1 Lucas D’Jock of the Luck Co-op. That match took some twists and turns. Kawa said he got thrown twice in the first period but got out of the period scoreless. In the second period, he got a reversal and near fall to go up 5-0 and led 6-2 at one point.

“After that I got my shot in deep,” Kawa said. “I raised my arm up to come in for my cut across and he caught it, threw me to my back and got the two takedown and three near fall. That put him up. In the third period I was riding, coach (Brandon Marcis) told me to let him up go neutral and try to get my shot and I just couldn’t figure out a way to get a good shot and finish it before the end of the match.”

Kawa could get a rematch quickly. In his first state match, Kawa will face 12thseeded Brody Nichols (37-10) of Darien-Delavan. A win there pits Kawa with the fourth-seeded D’Jock in Friday’s quarterfinals.

“He’s strong in the upper body,” Kawa said of a potential rematch. “He likes to use momentum, rolls stuff like that. I just have to go out and wrestle my match, not go out and wrestle his.”

The 175-pound bracket is led by top seed Mason Lane of Lodi (35-4) and twoseed Justin Klinknew of Two Rivers (32-4). Kawa, though, comes in confident he’s wrestling at his best at the close of his career and is focused on making some noise in the bracket.

“Neutral has become my strong suit,” he said. “I feel like I have a good defensive thing going. Once I set up my shots good enough and take my shot I’m pretty solid at finishing the shots. I’ve been working really hard this year on my escapes and hand control, all that good stuff. I feel like that’s going to help me out in the long run. “It’d mean the world,” Kawa added about finishing higher than last year. “It’d mean I put out what I could in my final year in high school. I just want to represent the Medford area, show what I can do, what I’ve been trained to do in all the years I’ve worked at it and how that’s turned out for me. It’s my time to shine.”

For Stark, his state appearance is the storybook ending for a senior who has been a consistent winner in four years and finally broke through to add his name to Medford’s record board of state qualifiers. “It’s been a long time coming, that’s for sure,” he said. “I’ve been dreaming to be on that board every year and I finally get to. Now I just have to put a number behind it. It means a lot.”

Stark (43-9) controlled his quarterfinal match Saturday, earning a 6-1 decision over Northwestern’s Parker Follis. In the semifinals, he ran into St. Croix Central’s Teague Holzer (51-3) for the third time this season and second time in five days. The first two matches weren’t real close, but this one was with Holzer winning 5-1.

“It felt a lot better,” Stark said. “I definitely surprised him. I came out, took some risks and actually took some shots. That’s something I’ve always struggled with just not attacking enough. I felt like I definitely changed it up and attacked a lot more and it showed.”

Stark bounced back with a pin in 2:51 over Abbotsford-Colby’s Alix Colby. That set up the third-place match with the Neillsville Co-op’s Adam Kautzer to determine who got the last state spot in the weight class. Stark pinned Kautzer in 2:51 in the regional meet and did it again Saturday in 2:35.

“After I knew I was going into the thirdplace match and seeing who it was and knowing I pinned him in regionals, I knew if I give my all, I said I’ve got it,” Stark said. “It feels good knowing if you do this 100%, you’re going to make it. It was almost the exact same match. I took him down right away and pinned him in two and a half minutes. That’s all it was.”

Stark is the 10th seed in the state bracket and will face seventh-seeded Dylan Weigel (43-9), a sophomore from Belmont-Platteville in his first match. Waiting for the winner is the second-seeded Holzer. The sectional champion, Colton Hush of Baldwin-Woodville (44-2) is the top state seed.

“I’m going to go in there and have some fun,” Stark said. “It’s the 12th year right here, why not? I’ve put in so much work, put it all out there. I’ll be happy if I don’t place. I’ll be happy if I place. I know if I give it 100%, I will be happy.”

Season ends for the rest

For nine other Raiders, the 2023-24 season came to an end at Saturday’s sectional meet.

Junior Owen Higgins was the closest of that bunch to advancing to state. He fell one win short and placed fourth at 138 pounds.

Higgins gave himself a shot to be in it for the long haul by winning his first match 8-6 over Baldwin-Woodville junior Garrett Guthrie (21-13). That set up a tough semifinal match with Ellsworth senior William Penn (47-2) the eventual champion and the fourth-place finisher at state last year at 126 pounds. Penn won by technical fall 16-0 at 2:33. That sent Higgins to a consolation match with a familiar rival, Tomahawk’s Ryan Larson. He won that one by major decision 9-0.

With a state berth on the line in the third-place match, Higgins came up short 4-1 against Hayward-Northwood junior Trenton Kirkland (45-5).

First-round losses made it tough for the rest of the group.

At 190 pounds, junior Evan Wilkins (3012), lost 5-0 to 38-11 Deangelo Sardina of Hayward-Northwood, the eventual runner-up. Sardina’s semifinal win over Dane Luchterhand of the Neillsville Co-op (4011) gave Wilkins a consolation match with Luchterhand, but Luchterhand eliminated Wilkins with a 6-3 win and wound up taking third.

At 120 pounds, freshman Jordan Lavin (14-18) was pinned in 1:57 by eventual champion Will Schmitt of St. Croix Central (49-4). Schmitt’s semifinal win gave Lavin a consolation match with 30-4 sophomore Brady Gesler of Chetek-Weyerhaeuser/ Prairie Farm, who pinned Lavin in 1:42 and wound up taking third.

A return trip to state was not in the cards for senior Braxton Weissmiller, who lost his only 215-pound match. Weissmiller (31-17) was defeated 6-0 by Hayward-Northwood’s Bradey Gottwald (43-12), who then lost to eventual champion Ian Smith of Northwestern (19-0). That loss eliminated Weissmiller.

Another senior, Cory Lindahl, saw his fine career end by pin in 3:42 to Baldwin-Woodville junior Taden Holldorf (37-10). Holldorf lost his semifinal 6-4 to eventual champion Hudzon Sebesta-Opelt of the Neillsville Co-op (36-2), eliminating Lindahl.

Junior Paxton Rothmeier was pinned in his opening 165-pound match by Spooner-Webster’s Connor Melton (47-6), a state qualifier last year. Melton lost his semifinal to eventual champion Owen Wasley (53-0) of St. Croix Central, ending Rothmeier’s season at 31-11. Junior Parker Lissner was beaten for the second time in five days by St. Croix Central’s Maverick Kostrzak (38-14), this time by a 5-0 decision. Senior Kellen Kelly of St. Croix Falls (46-3) beat Kostrzak 10-2 in the semifinals, ending Lissner’s season at 21-11. Kelly easily won the 144-pound championship.

At 106 pounds, freshman Caden Olson (24-16) was pinned in 3:08 by Kaiden Hahn (40-12) of St. Croix Falls in his first match. Hahn then lost his semifinal 7-0 to eventual champion Westin Ingham of Amery 15-5. That eliminated Olson.

In girls competition, Bridget Wesle did get a win before ending her season at 6-18. Wrestling in a 132-pound bracket with seven wrestlers, Wesle got her second win of the season over Tomahawk’s Halle Derleth (21-12) in the quarterfinal round 10-3. In the semifinals, she was pinned by freshman Blaynne Crawford of Mosinee in 1:56. Crawford (13-5) was pinned in the championship in 3:10 by Nevaeh Nwachukwu of St. Croix Falls (33-10).

Medford’s Bridget Wesle gets close to escaping the grasp of Tomahawk’s Halle Derleth during their WIAA sectional quarterfinal match Saturday in Tomahawk. Wesle ended her first wrestling season by going 1-1 in the 132-pound sectional weight class. NATHANIEL UNDERWOOD/TRIBUNE-PHONOGRAPH