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The Baraboo wrestling team will be well represented at Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 sectional meet in Verona.

Nine Thunderbirds will compete on the sectional mat after placing in the top four of their weight class at Saturday’s regional in Holmen. Baraboo’s big day, which included seven finalists and five champions, led to a team score of 201, good for second behind third-ranked Holmen. The Vikings advanced to Tuesday’s team sectional with 259.5 points.

Tomah (187.5), Sparta (136), Portage (116), La Crosse Logan/Central (111), Reedsburg (105) and Onalaska/Luther (21) rounded out the scoring.

“I cannot remember the last time we put seven wrestlers in the regional finals and came away with five champions,” Baraboo coach Joe Bavlnka said. “I could not be more proud of this team. We wrestled at a very high level against some very stiff competition. We were able to find ways to win in hard-fought, intense situations.

“Brandon Jesse was the spark that got things going at 132.”

Jesse, a sophomore, advanced to his first sectional meet with a 11-6 decision over Portage freshman Lowell Arnold in the 132-pound title match.

“He came in as the fourth-seeded wrestler, he won a tough first-round match then pinned the top-seeded wrestler from Tomah in semifinals,” Bavlnka said. “As a team, we really started to roll from there”

Jesse kicked off four straight Baraboo championships. Eli Davidson immediately came out and won the 138-pound title with a 10-2 major decision over Reedsburg’s Nick Coplien.

“Eli Davidson had an epic come-from-behind win in the semifinals,” Bavlnka said. “He was able to reverse the Holmen wrestler with about 45 seconds left and put him to his back twice with a cradle to earn the win. He then avenged early-season losses to the Reedsburg wrestler with a convincing win in the finals.”

Carlos Chavez won the 145-pound championship with a 5-1 decision, followed by John Gunderson’s 8-0 major decision in the 152-pound title match. For matches later, Tyson Fry took home the 195-pound title with a 17-3 major decision.

“Carlos Chavez, John Gunderson and Tyson Fry I thought had dominating performances against some very tough competition,” Bavlnka said. “Aiden Estes and Joe Schick wrestled well, finishing runner-up and put themselves in a good position too for a chance at state in next week’s sectional.”

Estes took second at 170 pounds, as Holmen’s Kalyn Jahn came away with a 32-second pin in the championship match. Schick had a second-place wrestleback after dropping a 7-3 decision to Holmen’s Jesse Fiers in the 285-pound finals. Schick came back to record a 7-5 decision in the wrestleback.

Frankie Van Houten added a third-place finish at 160 pounds, securing his spot with a 3:50 pin of Holmen’s Lucas Lazarescu. Traton Winecke claimed Baraboo’s final spot in sectionals with a fourth-place finish at 220 pounds.

The nine T-Birds will head to Verona looking to qualify for the individual state meet from Feb. 21-23 at the Kohl Center in Madison. Gunderson and Pablo Ramirez represented Baraboo at the 2018 state meet, both losing their opening match.

“I am very grateful to be able to coach this team and look forward to sectional Saturday,” Bavlnka said.

Team scores: Holmen 259.5, Baraboo 201, Tomah 187.5, Sparta 136, Portage 116, La Crosse Logan/Central 111, Reedsburg 105, Onalaska/Luther 21.

Championship matches

106: Kratochvill, H, pinned Griffin, T, 0:33. 113: Pellowski, H, dec. Ellefson, LCL, 8-2. 120: Bailey, S, pinned Smith, H, 2:51. 126: Tijerina, Por, dec. Pohlamus, S, 7-0. 132: Jesse, B, dec. Arnold, P, 11-6. 138: Davidson, B, mdec Coplien, R, 10-2. 145: Chavez, B, dec. Vetsch, H, 5-1. 152: Gunderson, B, mdec McCutchen, H, 8-0. 160: Nagel, LCL, dec. Fritsche, T, 5-2. 170: Jahn, Hol, pinned Estes, B, 0:32. 182: Schams, H, pinned Lass, T, 0:30. 195: Fry, B, mdec Hericks, T, 17-3. 220: Pfaff, S, pinned Horman, H, 3:31. 285: Fiers, H, dec. Schick, B, 7-3.

Second-place wrestlebacks

106: Griffin, T, dec. Beckett, P, 4-2. 113: Ellefson, LCL, mdec Pollack, T, 8-0. 120: Smith, H, pinned Judd, R, 1:26. 132: Arnold, P, mdec Boulton, T, 10-2. 145: Vetsch, H, dec. Linzmeier, T, 5-0. 152: McCutchen, H, pinned Hauser, S, 2:25. 195: Hericks, T, dec. Butler, H, 5-1. 285: Schick, B, dec. Larson, T, 7-5.

Third-place matches

106: Beckett, P, pinned Roe, LCL, 3:36. 113: Pollack, T, dec. Hibner, P, 11-4. 120: Judd, R, def. Wylie, LCL, inj. def. 126: Klonecki, H, mdec Bemis, T, 10-2. 132: Boulton, T, pinned Rensberry, H, 5:36. 138: Treu, S, dec. West, H, 10-4. 145: Linzmeier, T, dec. Schinker, R, 9-4. 152: Hauser, S, pinned Kapanka, LCL, 1:40. 160: Van Houten, Bar, pinned Lazarescu, H, 3:50. 170: Pierce, T, pinned Marx, LCL, 4:30. 182: Blum, On, def. Jankowski, LCL, injury. 195: Butler, H pinned Statz, R, 1:39. 220: Von Haden, T, pinned Winecke, B, 3:44. 285: Larson, T, pinned Snodgrass, LCL, 1:07.

Fourth-place wrestlebacks

106: Roe, LCL, pinned Miller, R, 4:55. 120: Harms, P, def. Wylie, LCL, inj. def. 126: Bemis, T, pinned Stapleton, B, 2:36. 132: Rensberry, H, dec. Brooks, S, 4-1. 138: West, H, pinned Walters, T, 3:10. 145: Schinker, R, dec. Klass, S, 4-3. 152: Kapanke, LCL, mdec Gayton, P, 12-2. 182: Cox, S, won forfeit. 195: Connelly, S, pinned Statz, R, 2:55. 285: Snodgrass, LCL, pinned Finkel, R, 0:46.

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Capital Newspapers Regional Sports Reporter