At this point in the season, it’s all about advancing to the next level.
The simplest path is as a champion, but there’s nothing wrong with moving along as a runner-up.
The Stevens Point Area Senior High wrestling team place third in the team standings with 159 points Saturday at the WIAA Merrill Regional and advanced 10 wrestlers to next week’s Division I individual sectional tournament at Marshfield.
Only two wrestlers, however, advanced by finishing in the top two, Kolten Pope at 120 and Mitch Mallek at 182.
Pope lost 8-3 to Wausau East’s Nick Diny, while Mallek lost a second-straight overtime match to Merrill’s Ben Hintze.
Mallek and Hintze both earned escapes to make it 1-1 at the end of regulation. Just six seconds into the sudden victory period Hintze secured a takedown for the 3-1 victory.
“All three of our matches have been exactly the same,” said Mallek, who is now 1-2 this season against Hintze. “In the dual meet I stuffed him and got around for the takedown.
“I’m going to work hard this week and beat him next week,” Mallek added.
Of the Panthers other qualifiers, six finished third at the regional and two placed fourth.
“Getting 10 guys through this tough regional is a pretty good showing for us,” Mallek said. “We’ve been down for a while, so this is pretty exciting.”
Marshfield sophomore Mitch Hertel, a state qualifier last year, placed third at 138-pounds.
“I was the fourth seed last year at the sectional tournament and I got through,” Hertel said. “It’s not going to be easy. I’m going to have to work hard all week and stay focused.”
Hertel will be joined by five other teammates at the sectional tournament.
In the team battle, Wausau West beat Merrill 257-220 to win the regional and advance to the team sectional. West will host Menomonie at 7 p.m. Tuesday for a spot in the team state tournament held March 1-2 at the UW-Fieldhouse in Madison.
The Warriors and Bluejays crowned five champions each, with Merrill holding a 4-2 edge in the head-to-head battle in the finals. Merrill’s champs against the West wrestlers were Nathan Beyer (113), Mason Reinhardt (160), David Pophal (170) and Tyler Schmidt (220), while West claimed victories against Merrill from Colin Baine (126) and Joe Umlauf (132).
Team scores: 1. Wausau West 257; 2. Merrill 220; 3. SPASH 159; 4. D.C. Everest 140; 5. Rhinelander; 6. Marshfield 93.5; 7. Wausau East 81; 8. Antigo 15.
106: Bee Lor (WW) def. Manning Denk (DCE), 8-1. 113: Nathan Beyer (MER) def. Alex Burk (WW), 6-0. 120: Nick Diny (WE) def. Kolten Pope (SP) 8-3. 126: Colin Baine (WW) def. Garrett Schmelling (MER), 3-0. 132: Joe Umlauf (WW) def. Scott Arneson (MER), 10-2; Wrestleback: Arnseon (MER) def. Tyler Kiefer (SP), 2-0. 138: Brook Whitehead (WE) def. Austin Helmer (DCE), 9-3. 145: Joe Ziolkowski (DCE) def. Eric Ball (MER), 9-2; Wrestleback: Ben Kostroski (WW) def. Ball (MER), 5-4. 152: Travid Hettinga (WW) def. Richard Klaver (RHI), 19-10. 160: Mason Reinhardt (MER) def. Jared Maraczynski (WW), 3-1 (OT). 170: David Pophal (WW) def. Cody Grunenwald (WW), 6-3; Wrestleback: Grunenwald (WW) def. Brett Hasbroudk (MAR), 13-3. 182: Ben Hintze (MER) def. Mitch Mallek (SP), 3-1 (OT). 195: Connor Johnson (RHI) def. Alex Klug (MER), 11-5; Wrestleback: Klug (MER) p. David Lodahl (WW), 1:48. 220: Tyler Schmidt (MER) def. River Judd (WW), 7-1. 285: Ryan Fay (WW) def. Bryce Biolgan (RHI), 3-2 (OT); Wrestleback: Bilogan (RHI) def. Justin Pawlek (SP), 1:27.
Third place matches: 106: Dakota Stone (RHI) def. Nate Duffert (SP), 6-3. 113: Mitch Veverka (DCE) def. Kolby Konopacky (SP), 10-1. 120: Hunter Kuehl (WW) def. Jack Freix (DCE), 3-2. 126: Fritz Schierl (SP) tf. Nolan White (DCE), 15-0. 132: Tyler Kiefer (SP) def. Alex Reas (RHI), inj. def. 138: Mitch Hertel (MAR), def. Josh Noll (WW), 7-1. 145: Ben Kostroski (WW) tf. Jordan Lundt (RHI), 18-1. 152: Tyler Engle (SP) def. Dylan Schielke (MER), 5-1. 160: Nathan Engle (SP) p. Josh Lang (MAR), 2:54. 170: Brett Hasbrouck (MAR) def. Adam Woebbeking (RHI), 11-7. 182: Kane Seubert (MAR) def. Kyle Zimic (WW), 4-0. 195: David Lodahl (WW) def. Justin Brown (ANT), 3-0. 220: James Pawlek (SP) p. Drew Stotmeister (DCE), 1:49. 285: Justin Pawlek (SP) p. Tristan Wilson (MAR), 1:24.