Wrestling: A decade of dominanceEllsworth clinches its 10th straight home invitational title on Saturday
By: Joe Brown, The Republican Eagle
ELLSWORTH – Like it has done in the last 10 years, the Ellsworth wrestling team dominated its home tournament.
With wrestlers in the finals for 10 of the 14 weight classes, the Panthers won the 49th Ellsworth Invitational for the 10th consecutive year on Saturday, scoring 321 points.
“A lot of these guys, they put a lot of hard work in year round,” said Ellsworth head coach Chad Steldt. “To start seeing (the team’s early-season progress), it’s good for them.”
Lake City, the lone Minnesota team in the tournament, took second with 211.5 points. River Falls (180), Boyceville (165) and Medford (152.5) rounded out the top five.
Of its 10 finalist, five wrestlers came away with tournament titles for the Panthers, who were ranked third in Wisconsin’s Division II rankings at the end of last season.
“The expectations are high here,” Steldt said. “The guys have set their individual goals and have something to work toward. We just got to stay healthy, that’s the main thing.”
Jens Lantz (126 pounds), Brad Cain (132), Dan Langer (138), Logan Kemmerer (160) and Gable Frandsen (170) all took first place for the Panthers. And for Cain and Frandsen, their wins came by some third-period theatrics.
Wrestling Lake City’s Andrew Schmidt in the 132-pound championship, Cain trailed 3-2 after the second period. Trying to escape Schmidt’s clutches from the down position, Cain scored a two-point reversal with 51 seconds left, giving him the late lead.
“At that point, I’m thinking to myself, ‘I’m definitely not letting him go,’” Cain said. “I knew if I rode him out and drove through the pain, I’d be happy with what happened.”
Cain was able to hold off Schmidt for the final 51 seconds, coming away with the 4-3 decision.
“It felt like I satisfied a hunger that I had,” Cain said. “Especially with it being my first tournament win in high school, it was pretty special for me.”
Five matches later, at 170 pounds, Frandsen held a slim 7-5 lead over Boyceville’s Josh Cormican in the third period before Cormican got an escape to cut Frandsen’s lead to 7-6.
With Frandsen in the top position with a minute left in the match. Using an array of slams, Frandsen finished off the match with a 7-6 decision.
“It all came down to who was in better shape,” an exhausted Frandsen said after the match.
Steldt added, “I think that’s the aspect of wrestling people underestimate is how much athletic ability comes in when you slam a guy ... (Frandsen) has crazy hips, he’s very athletic and you saw that.”
Ellsworth’s other championship wins came in a more dominating fashion. Langer defeated River Falls’ Nathan Kinneman in a 6-0 decision to win at 138 pounds. Kemmerer secured a win over Medford’s Aaric Spencer in a 9-4 decision, and Lantz pinned Medford’s Gunner Peterson in 3:42 for the 126-pound title.
The Panthers will hold their first home dual of the season Thursday, taking on Baldwin-Woodville.