Saint grapplers win H’ON title

Above The Fold Media | For the Leader
St. Croix Falls won conference as a team, along with five individuals winning their brackets. - Photos provided
Five first-place finishes despite shuffled lineup
CAMERON – An unseen enemy nearly prevented the St. Croix Falls wrestling team from seeing a Heart O’North Conference championship.
The Saints entered Saturday’s finale tournament without two of their regular competitors, including top-ranked Kole Marko, due to illness. Without the benefit of rescheduling, they had to finish their title run with a shuffled lineup.
"We had some adversity to overcome, having two wrestlers out for sickness,” St. Croix Falls coach Joe Raygor said. "The team pushed and scored bonus points in key matches that kept us in the team race to make a late push in the finals.”
Despite not having Marko or Devyn Rode, the Saints got five first-place finishes to win the conference title with 218.5 points, with Northwestern, 205, close behind in second. Spooner-Webster tied for eighth with 99 points.
Luke Thaemert, at 106 pounds; Mason Will, 120; Zack Clark, 138; Kyle Zehm, 220; and Tanner Gaffey, 285, earned first-place finishes for the Saints and Carter Melton, 182, led Spooner-Webster with a first-place finish.
Thaemert’s day started with a 10-second win over Kayne Johnson, Cameron, and finished with a 9-7 win over Connor Krueger, Superior. He earned his 130th career win during the tournament to secure a spot in the program’s wall of fame.
Will won his opener in 34 seconds over Drake Marks, Hayward, and ended with a 5-1 win over Remington Ladd, Cameron. Clark also opened with a win by pin, in 1:57 over Edward Chafer, Cumberland, and later won a 9-4 decision over Tanner Kaufman, Northwestern, in the first-place match.
Zehm needed just two wins to earn his first-place finish, starting with a 34-second win over Jacob Morgan, Hayward, and then a 5-2 decision over Brennen Werner, Northwestern. After wins by injury default and by pin, Gaffey earned a 4-2 decision over Wade Stanger, Ladysmith, in his first-place match.
Bennett Bergmann, 152, and McKinley Erickson, 195, had runner-up finishes for the Saints; James Kemp, 170, added a third-place finish.
Melton started with a win by pin in 1:55 over Trevor Derick, Superior, and after a 10-8 decision over Isaac Nichols, Northwestern, he won the first-place match in 40 seconds over Calvin Mansheim, Hayward. Brandon Meister, 152, and Ian Perrine, 285, had fourth-place finishes.
While the Rails go to Ashland this Saturday for the WIAA Division 2 regional, the Saints get to host their Division 3 regional.
"Our focus lies in the postseason and it starts this week,” Raygor said. "We want to have state champions and have the team competing in Madison.”

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