AMHERST – The young Amherst wrestling team knew it was in for a tough night.
Facing the No. 1 team in the state in their program’s first WIAA team sectional competition, the Falcons fought hard, but were ultimately a speed bump for Stratford during Division 3 action at Amherst High School.
The Tigers racked up seven pins en route to a 51-30 victory over the Falcons Tuesday night to advance to the sectional finals. Second-ranked Coleman won the other semifinal 48-33 over Crandon and the championship 35-31 over Stratford to advance to the state team tournament for a 13th time. Since 2010 Coleman has won four Division 3 titles and was runner-up once.
“This was a stepping stone for where we want to be headed with our program,” Amherst coach Dave Peterson said. “The official told us before the match that you don’t get to this level without doing something special, and that really resonated with me and the kids.”
The Falcons got to the team sectional by winning the Amherst regional last Saturday, and being able to host the event was a bonus for the young team.
“Being in our gym did make the kids a little more at ease, but they knew how tough Stratford was going to be,” Peterson said.
Stratford, which won seven matches by pin, one by forfeit and one by decision, needed just 39 minutes to win the match. The Tigers forfeited the final five weights to wrap up the match in quick fashion.
The only match that was contested and didn’t end in a pin was at 106 pounds. Stratford’s Jake Drexler beat David Rieck 8-2.
“This was an eye-opening experience for our young team,” Peterson said. “We were 10th in the conference last year, and this year we finished fourth and won a regional tournament. We’ve got good numbers and only graduate one senior. I like the direction our program is going, and we were proud to be here.”
Amherst finished the dual meet season with an 8-9 record.
220: Hunter Kauffman (ST) pinned Dylan Kearney (A), 2:52. 285: Jon Aguirre (ST) pinned Chris Thomas (A), 3:38. 106; Jake Drexler (ST) def. Davie Rieck (A), 8-2. 113: Dilan Dehlinger (ST) pinned Luke Wright (A), 1:30. 120: Anthony Gliniecki (ST) pinned Robert Johannes (A), :35. 126: Jordan Becker (ST) pinned Daniel Zachman (A), :53. 132: Mason Kauffman (ST) pinned Cole Mackenzie (A), :13. 138: Sam Wenzel (ST) pinned Grant Krogwold (A), 2:30. 145: Mark Handrick (ST) won by forfeit. 152: James Borgen (A) won by forfeit. 160: Bryce Holderman (A) won by forfeit. 170: Gavin Sneller (A) won by forfeit. 182: Ethan Sneller (A) won by forfeit. 195: Max Villnow (A) won by forfeit.
Mark Massoglia can be reached at 715-423-7200, ext. 6736. Follow him on Twitter @markmazzy.