Panthers have multiple state finalists for third year in a row
MADISON - For the third year in a row the Ellsworth High School wrestling team will have multiple finalists at the WIAA State Wrestling Tournament.
Jens Lantz and Gabe Frandsen will wrestle in championship matches Saturday at the Kohl Center starting at 6 p.m.
Lantz (41-5) easily won his semifinal match with a 3:05 pinfall of Sparta sophomore John Roddick (40-12) at 120 pounds in Division 2. Lantz, a junior, will face sophomore Cody Walrath of Freedom who has a 31-10 record while Lantz is 41-5.
If Lantz wins he'll be the first-ever three-time champion in EHS history and the 52nd in state history. Head Coach Chad Steldt says setting little goals for each match is helps Lantz keeps his focus.
"When he wins he outworks his opponents and setting small goals each match is what motivates him," Steldt said.
Frandsen beat Kewaskum's Brett Scoles 8-5 after Frandsen broke a 3-3 tie at the end of the second period with a takedown and three-point nearfall.
"Mentally I just wanted to avoid doing anything stupid," Frandsen said, especially in the third period when he held of Scoles from scoring. "My defense right is really good right now and I did good job blocking his takedown shots."
Frandsen will face a familiar foe in the finals, Somerset's Gabe Flandrick, who beat Frandsen in the finals of the Middle Border Conference tournament 9-6 a few weeks ago. Frandsen,a junior is 44-6 and Flandrick, a senior, is 43-2.
Scoles (38-4) has wrestled against an Ellsworth grappler three straight state tournaments and has wrestled someone from Pierce County (He beat Prescott's Josh Farr by injury default as a freshman in 2010) for four straight years. His record against the Panthers is 1-2 as he lost in the state finals in 2011 to Roarke Langer but beat Logan Kemmerer in the first round of last year's state meet.
Speaking of Kemmerer, he battled River Valley's unbeaten Seth Liegel in the 152-pound, Division 2 semifinals to the bitter end but fell short 12-8. Kemmerer (23-2) came back from a 6-1 deficit in the second period with a throw and three-point nearfall which put Liegel on his back. Liegel avoided the pin and got a reversal to go ahead 8-5 but an escape and a takedown tied the match at 8-8 before Liegel got an escape before the end of the period.
But Liegel (45-0) showed why he's D-I recruit bound for Wisconsin as he controlled the third period. He started off with an escape to go ahead 10-8 and then got a takedown to win 12-8.
"Logan goes up against tough competition in our wrestling room and from our alumni, so facing someone like Liegel is old hat to him," Steldt said. "He wasn't going to be intimidated. Wrestling over the summer really helped him be competitive in match like this."
The Purple's Tristen Mueller (34-22) will also wrestle in the placement matches Saturday morning and afternoon after was was pinned by Oconto Falls sophomore Dewey Krueger (41-1) in 1:02 in the 132-pound semifinals.
Ellsworth has had a wrestler in the state finals every year since 2006.