The Portage wrestling team will send five individuals to next Saturday’s WIAA Division 1 Verona Sectional, including three freshmen who kept their seasons alive by finishing fourth or better at the Holmen Regional on Saturday.
Leading Portage in Holmen was junior Jessie Tijerina, who claimed the lone regional championship for the Warriors. Joining Tijerina as sectional qualifiers for Portage were freshmen Chase Beckett, Riley Hibner and Lowell Arnold, along with senior Robert Harms.
Tijerina, now 35-2 on the season, had little trouble winning the regional title at 126 pounds. After an opening-round bye, Tijerina pinned Tomah’s Braden Bemis in 3 minutes, 44 seconds in the semifinals. In the finals, Tijerina picked up a 7-0 victory over Sparta’s Vince Polhamus to clinch his regional title.
Tijerina, who was Portage’s lone state qualifier a year ago, where he finished in fifth place, will advance to sectionals, where he will need to finish in first or second place to advance to the state individual tournament. Tijerina will open up against Middleton’s John Ndoyi (5-9) in a sectional quarterfinal match. The other regional champion in Tijerina’s bracket is Waunakee junior Berhett Statz (37-7).
At 132 pounds, Arnold finished in second place after dropping an 11-6 decision to Baraboo’s Brandon Jesse in the finals. After the loss, Arnold bounced back to get a 10-2 major decision victory over Tomah’s Nate Boulton in the second-place match.
Arnold, who reached the finals with pins in the quarterfinals and semifinals, will take a 28-12 record into the Verona Sectional, where he will open with a quarterfinal match against DeForest’s Eli Bauer (17-10). With a win over Bauer, Arnold would likely face Madison East senior Dakarai Clay (38-4), who won the 132-pound title at the Waunakee Regional on Saturday.
Beckett advanced to sectionals by finishing third at 106 pounds on Saturday in Holmen. Beckett opened by pinning Reedsburg’s Dylan Miller, but lost a 13-5 major decision in the semifinals to Holmen’s Parker Kratochvill. Beckett bounced back by pinning La Crosse Logan/Central’s Kailix Roe in 3:36 in the third-place match. Beckett had a chance to move up to second place, but lost a 4-2 decision Tomah’s Caden Griffin in the second-place match.
Beckett (21-16) will face Sauk Prairie junior Dawson Enge (34-10) in the quarterfinals at the Verona Sectional on Saturday. If Beckett can get past Enge, he will likely face a rematch with Kratochvill in the semifinals.
Hibner punched his ticket to sectionals by finishing in fourth place at 113 pounds in Holmen. Hibner started his day with a 9-2 win over Reedsburg’s Caylee Fry, but was pinned by La Crosse Logan/Central’s Dylan Ellefson in the semifinals. Hibner also fell in the third-place match, losing an 11-4 decision to Tomah’s Caleb Pollack.
Hibner (19-16) faces a tough draw at Saturday’s Verona Sectional, as he will open against Wauankee junior Nick Schweitzer (23-5), who won a regional title at 113 pounds.
Harms also advanced to sectionals with a fourth-place finish at 120 pounds in Holmen. Harms had to win a wrestleback match to earn his sectional berth after losing a 12-7 decision in the quarterfinals to Reedsburg’s Brayden Judd. After a bye in the consolation semifinals, Harms pinned Baraboo’s Vincent Tikkanen in 0:44 in the fifth-place match. Then in the battle for fourth place, Harms won by injury default over La Crosse Logan/Central’s Donavin Wylie.
Harms (11-10) will face DeForest senior Luke Beyer (31-13) in a quarterfinal match at the Verona Sectional on Saturday. Beyer won the 120-pound title at the Waunakee Regional.
Portage had two other wrestlers narrowly miss out on advancing to sectionals as freshman Oz Gaytan was fifth at 152 pounds and senior Sam Bleich was fifth at 170 pounds.
In the team standings at the regional, Portage finished in fifth out of eight teams with 116 points. Host Holmen won the regional title with 259½ points, while Baraboo was second with 201 points.
WIAA DIVISION 1 HOLMEN REGIONAL
Team scores: Holmen 259.5, Baraboo 201, Tomah 187.5, Sparta 136, Portage 116, La Crosse Logan/Central 111, Reedsburg 105, Onalaska/Luther 21.