WESTFIELD — Winning a championship in the South Central Conference won’t be easy, considering league-favorite Mauston finished second in the state a year ago, but Westfield head coach Sam Rugg thinks he just might have the team capable doing just that.
And after watching how Rugg’s team opened the conference dual meet season against Wisconsin Dells on Thursday night, not many people would argue with him.
The Pioneers lost just one match – not including a pair of forfeit defeats – and picked up five pins en route to an impressive 56-18 victory over the Chiefs at Westfield Area High School.
“I think we’ve got four really, really solid seniors and we got some juniors that have been around the block,” Rugg said. “We’re ready to be very, very competitive.”
One of those seniors is Austin McCartney, who opened the night with a 15-0 technical fall victory over Mason Weber at 138 pounds.
“I liked starting out with a bang at 138 with Austin McCartney, because that sets the tone for the whole dual meet,” Rugg said.
The second match of the night at 145 pounds was a good one, with Westfield junior Titus Dickinson taking on senior Max Obois, who was a state qualifier for the Chiefs a year ago. Dickinson trailed by just one point after two periods, but got a little too aggressive in the third period and was pinned by Obois at 4 minutes, 38 seconds.
“It’s his first year in the starting lineup, taking on their state qualifier,” Rugg said of Dickinson. “We had a tight match all the way through, but one little mistake cost him, and you can’t do that on a good kid.”
The pin for Obois would be the only win for the Chiefs, as the Pioneers rolled off seven straight wins from 152 pounds to 106 pounds, and also got a forfeit win from senior Jay Kaenel at 170 pounds. One of the more exciting wins of the night for the Pioneers came at 152 pounds, where senior Parry Starling, a new student to the district from Iowa – broke a 1-1 tie with a takedown with just 10 seconds left in the match to pick up a 3-1 victory over Willie Vandenlangenberg.
After Starling’s win, the Pioneers next five victories all came via the pin. The quickest of those pins came in just 10 seconds by junior Allen Hadlock. Sophomore heavyweight Austin Barton was the last of those pins, and it came in just 26 seconds. Also getting pins for the Pioneers were Quade Jones at 182 pounds (5:50), Tanner Akers at 195 pounds (2:47) and Brandon Peters at 220 pounds (4:14).
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At 106 pounds, Westfield’s Daniel Nelson was a 7-6 winner over Tyler Braun. It looked like Nelson at first got a 10-6 victory, getting three points late in the match on a near fall, but after the third period ended, the official realized he made a mistake by not stopping the match earlier when the wrestler on top was warned for stalling.
To correct the mistake, the official took the three near fall points off the board, and put 40 seconds back up on the clock. Nelson and Braun returned to the mat, and Nelson then held on for the one-point victory.
The Chiefs finally ended Westfield’s run with a pair of forfeit victories at 113 and 120 pounds, but the Pioneers finished the night on a high note with a 7-4 victory by freshman Hunter Clark at 126 pounds, and then a forfeit victory for Lucas Nelson at 132 pounds.
Before the season started, Wisconsin Dells head coach Jeff Campbell predicted Westfield would be the surprise team in the conference. And while he wasn’t surprised to see how good Westfield was on Thursday, he thinks his Wisconsin Dells team is better than Thursday’s score indicates.
“We got to get a couple guys back yet, and we’re going to keep working to get them back, hopefully by the first of the year,” Campbell said. “We’ll fill out our lineup, get our kids down to the weight that they need to be at, and we’ll get to where we need to be. It’s just taking a little bit longer than we anticipated.”
On the other side of the mat, Rugg was just happy to see his team start 1-0 in conference duals.
“The kids wrestled extremely hard. That’s all I ask.”
WESTFIELD 56, WISCONSIN DELLS 18
138: Austin McCartney, WE, won by tech. fall over Mason Weber, 15-0. 145: Max Obois, WD, pinned Titus Dickinson, 4:38. 152: Parry Starling, WE, def. Willie Vandenlangenberg, 3-1. 160: Allen Hadlock, WE, pinned Jamore Rand, 0:10. 170: Jay Kaenel, WE, received a forfeit. 182: Quade Jones, WE, pinned Jeremy Bronas, 5:05. 195: Tanner Akers, WE, pinned Luis Garcia, 2:47. 220: Brandon Peters, WE, pinned Josh McMeans, 4:13. 285: Austin Barton, WE, pinned Everett Menore, 0:26. 106: Daniel Nelson, WE, def. Tyler Braun, 7-6. 113: Alex Morzy, WD, received a forfeit. 120: Bryan Ugalde, WD, received a forfeit. 126: Hunter Clark, WE, def. Hans Obois, 7-4. 132: Lucas Nelson, WE, received a forfeit.